QUESTION: Health measures during heatwaves

During Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Health & Wellbeing about measures taken to reduce the occurrence of illness and death that accompany heatwaves, given the hotter than average temperatures forecast for SA this summer. 


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: When the minister has recovered his breath, my question is of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. It relates to health agencies' response to increased heatwaves brought about by climate change. My question of the minister is: given the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast hotter than average days and nights from now through to the end of summer, what measures has the government taken to reduce the occurrence of death and illness that always accompanies heatwaves in South Australia?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing): The honourable member is quite right. The South Australian health system is very attuned to the risks of hot days, particularly to vulnerable people in a whole range of categories. It reminds me of a gentleman I visited in the northern area who was on oxygen machines. He was at risk if there was a power failure, and of course power failures are often related to significant heat events.

One of the key programs we have in place in partnership with Red Cross is to register and monitor people who are at risk, whether that is through their particular vulnerabilities in terms of reactions to stress, because some medical conditions have their own susceptibilities to heat variations, but it also might be vulnerabilities in terms of relying on life-saving equipment.

My understanding is that Red Cross, in partnership with SA Health, has a register of people who have those vulnerabilities and on those heat days has an active program of monitoring those people. They also know that they have a number to ring, if they need to.

In terms of the environment in which South Australians live, to the extent that we are continuing to have significant heat events, SA Health and the health network more broadly will continue to evolve to make sure that South Australians get the support they need.