It's taken 45 days for the fire raging through Hazelwood Mine's open-cut brown coal fields to be declared "safe". But that's 45 days too many for Morwell residents who've been breathing air full of carbon monoxide, carcinogens and other toxic fumes.
Now the whole town is suffering. Men, women and children complain of headaches, bleeding noses and bloody eyes, coughing, breathing difficulties, insomnia, lethargy, skin irritations, throat, eye and ear infections, depression, agitation and anxiety. The list goes on.
Community worker Tracie talks to Morwell residents every day about what effect the toxic air is having on their physical and mental health. That's why, this week, she decided to start a campaign on CommunityRun calling for an inquiry into the health impacts of the fire on the people of Morwell.
Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Rosemary Lester, is already considering an inquiry into the long-term health effects on the town's residents but hasn't made up her mind if it's in the best interest of the community.
A public outcry right now could help her make up her mind and end the uncertainty felt by Morwell's 14,000 residents.
"We're calling for an inquiry because there's no existing health information about this. Unless an inquiry happens now, Morwell residents won't get the health information they need to prepare themselves for any long-term effects of the Hazelwood mine fire." - Tracie, community worker in Morwell
When Tracie speaks with Morwell residents, she hears the same questions every time: Am I going to get sicker? Is something bad going to happen? Will my kids be alright? Am I going to be around to see them grow up?
Tracie knows it isn't the symptoms Morwell residents are suffering from right now that worry them most. Their biggest fear is about the long-term health problems they don't yet know about and the future health of their families.
This week Tracie's going door-knocking and flyering shop windows around Morwell to get the message out about her campaign. But to get the number of signatures she needs to put pressure on Ms Lester to announce an inquiry, Tracie needs our help too.
Can you let Tracie know she has your support?
Tracie's fighting hard for an inquiry because she knows it means the difference between Morwell residents living in fear about what's to come or having the ability to move on from this tragedy and regain control of their lives.
Thanks for your support,
Emma and Michael, for CommunityRun.org
PS - CommunityRun is a tool built and powered by GetUp that allows any person to start, run and deliver their own campaign on the issue they care about. To learn more about CommunityRun or start your own campaign visit http://www.communityrun.org
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