The First Decade This brief history is written by David Shearman by reviewing all minutes, correspondence and Annual Reports since inception of the organisation. It is intended to be a practical, referenced document in which members can find when policies first eventuated and important events occurred these are frequently needed to establish DEAs track record on particular issues. A summary of key dates is provided below. The document is open to revision from the recollections, documents and correspondence of longstanding members. To date it provides documentation to 2011 and hopefully others will help complete it. Key Dates of Initiatives 19992000 Decision to form an organisation of doctors for the environment in Australia. Advertisement of intent and invitation for members to join placed in the MJA 2001 Bill Castleden identified as potential chairperson Doctors for the Environment Australia DEA incorporated in the state of SA Ad hoc Committee formed David Shearman SA, Bill Castleden WA, Grant Blashki VIC, Colin Butler ACT, Roscoe Taylor QLD, and Kevin Chamberlin QLD 2002 Inaugural meeting of DEA with agreed name Doctors for the Environment Australia promoting health through care of the environment Policy development commenced early 2002 when Tony McMichael, David Shearman and Colin Butler wrote a Position paper on climate change and human health 2003 First Annual General meeting Canberra Bill Castleden elected Chair and David Shearman Secretary Leading article in RACP News by Tony McMichael, Linda Selvey and David Shearman. The Impact of Global Climate Change on Human Health It concluded with an invitation to join DEA. 2004 First Annual Report Commencement of briefing letters to all members of federal parliament First submission to parliament on USFTA and DEA appeared before the Committee Renewable Energy, submission to parliament and appearance of Tony Michael before parliamentary committee in Canberra Population policy State committees established Scientific Advisory committee formed Establishment of The DEA Fund for tax deductible donations Students became full members Protocols developed for visiting Members of Parliament 2005 Funding from the Federal Environmental Education Research Grant Scheme for Community environmental education using human health messages, which was used to develop posters The first was cobadged by the AMA A Policy on Health and Forests A draft Document for Childrens Environmental Health An Energy Policy for Australia was initiated 2006 Submission to the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review July to Inquiry into a Sustainability Charter, Climate Change and Health poster distributed to over 20,000 doctors in late 2006 as a once off enterprise with the AMA. 2007 Established a relationship with RACGP to distribute poster on Biodiversity and Health to 35,000 RACGP members Bill Castleden and Grant Blashki appointed Al Gore ClimateEducators Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry and Resources. Inquiry into the development of Australias nonfossil fuel industry Case study into selected renewable energy sectors Public Transport and Green City Manifesto Joint scientific meeting of DEA and Rural Health West Halfpage advertisement in the Weekend Australian on the health aspects of climate change entitled Enough to make you Sick. 2008 Published Climate Change Health Check 2020 Poster Less Drive Time, More Alive Time distributed to all RACGP members in December 2008 GreenClinic Brochure, an initiative between the Australian Conservation Council and DEA, Collaboration between DEA and Medical Observer MO Magazine commenced Submission to the Garnaut Review Mail outs to all federal parliamentarians on 1 Commuity measures to reduce emissions and 2 Renewable energy 2009 Initiative on Coal and Health commenced Poola Challenge Grant DEA Students participated in global health conference and video DEA students form national student committee Submissions to parliament on fossil fuels, the proposed Olympic dam expansion food production and the agricultural sector Inaugural DEA student conference, Newman College Melbourne 2010 Major activity on coal and health commenced DEA developed a revised policy paper A Sustainable Population for Australia and a Population poster was produced and distributed Commencement of DEA initiative on divestment by banks from coal mines Jointly organised Sustainability and Health thinkthank, Prescriptions for a healthy planet 2011 Advocacy on the potential harms of the Unconventional gas industry commenced Submissions made to the Senate and to the NSW parliament on unconventional gas Policy and fact sheet on unconventional gas Commencement of action on the proposed Dual Gas Demonstration Project, Morwell Commencement of advocacy on reform of Health Impact Assessment processes Advocacy on the need for wind farms Inaugural student iDEA conference Sydney Code green student activity iDEA conferences 2011 30th April 1st May Sydney 2012 1415th April Ceres Community Park, Brunswick VIC 2013 67th April University of Adelaide 2014 2223rd March Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne 2015 1315th March University of Western Sydney Click here to download the complete history of DEA or read below for DEA history to 2010. Initiation 19992001 Doctors for the Environment Australia DEA arose as a branch of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment ISDE, based in Switzerland, founded in 1990 and with member organisations in 38 countries, mainly Europe and the Americas. The aims of ISDE were to publicise the relationship between the condition of the environment and human health, promote environmentally friendly behaviour amongst physicians, patients, and the public, and to cooperate at all political levels in the reduction of harmful environmental influences on health. Following previous contact with Dr Gaudenz Silberschmidt, Executive Officer of ISDE, Tony McMichael met with Professor David Shearman at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1999 and they agreed that the most promising base for an Australian initiative was to explore becoming a branch of ISDE. David Shearman then visited Geneva to discuss this option with Dr Siblerschmidt. A decision was subsequently made to establish an Australian branch of ISDE. The call to action in Australia commenced with an Editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia by Tony McMichael and Charles Guest in November 1999 Doctors and the environment a call to arms for medical practitioners in Australia https://www.mja.com.au/journal/1999/171/11/doctorsandenvironment. The article concluded Medical organisations such as the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War with its Australian affiliate, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, and Medicins Sans Frontieres, have made contributions to world peace that have been recognised by the awarding of the Nobel Prize. These efforts have continued over many years. Peace and the sustainability of the global environment are intertwined. On environmental matters, no less an effort is required by our profession. An advertisement for the formation of DEA was placed in the same issue of MJA and recruitment commenced in 2000 by the placement of articles and personal contact. David Shearman writes The year 2000 was spent planning and included a stay in Switzerland working with Gaudenz Silberschmidt. Making contacts in Australia utilised many in the conservation movement, contacts made whilst I was President of the Conservation Council of SA in the early 1990s. These were early days for medical practitioners understanding of climate change, and the year 2000 was spent on the phone, cajoling, educating and even twisting arms. The key would be the identification of a Chairelect, who was knowledgeable, committed, persistent, personable and with a stable marriage. In 2001 this person, Bill Castleden, was identified. He had been a leading figure in successful WA campaigns to save the WA forests. Bill Castleden writes Within weeks of giving up daytoday forest involvement in 2001, I started to receive emails from a Professor David Shearman in Adelaide asking if I would be interested in joining a group of doctors he wanted to assemble to alert the public and the government about the close connection between a healthy environment and healthy human beings. He wanted to start an Australian branch of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment ISDE. I ignored his emails. I had had enough of campaigning for Doctors for the Forests in WA. And still David Shearman persisted. He wrote of his almost lifelong commitment to environmental causes, of his pastChairmanship of the South Australian Conservation Council and his book writing and his publications. After months of email bombardment and discussions with Wendy, we agreed that we would go for a weekend to the Mornington Peninsular south of Melbourne to meet the potential steering group of doctors he had collected from each State to form what he hoped would be called Doctors for the Environment, Australia DEA. I was not really sure what it was all about or if they were all too deeply green to be reasonable human beings! Initiation and Development 20012005 In April 2001 DEA was Incorporated in the State of South Australia and became a registered organisation. By the end of the 2001 several key doctors had been identified with a first planning teleconference held in October. Colin Butler, Grant Blashki, Kevin Chamberlin and Roscoe Taylor joined David Shearman and Bill Castleden. A further teleconference planning meeting was held in May 2002 when organisational matters, structures, finance etc were discussed. Plans were made for a face to face meeting. The Mornington Meeting October 2002 At this inaugural meeting in 2002, the health aspects of climate change were determined as our priority for action. It was noted at this stage that there were concerns that the name Doctors for the Environment Australia did not include the word health and it was decided to have a subsidiary title promoting health through care of the environment. The immediate goals were the establishment of a website, attainment of membership numbers and communication through newsletters and publications. This was a key meeting in establishing relationships and launching DEA. The meeting took place in a magnificent modern architectural beauty of a house on the Mornington peninsula with striking artwork and wonderful cliff top ocean views. Grant Blashki hosted the meeting for he had become a key player in establishing DEA. Bill Castleden writes David Shearman had carefully constructed a full weekend of meetings and presentations during which we had ample time to assess each others possible strengths and weaknesses. Over the final lunch and afternoon he had asked Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation and David Yencken of the Australian Collaboration to come to meet with us and to talk with us. They made us feel we could, as a medical organisation, play a very important role in the overall effort to ensure a healthy environment for the next generations of Australians to grow into. Our egos suitably massaged, we all agreed to set up DEA. I was to be the coopted Western Australian representative until such time as the organisation was formally constituted and elections could be called and held. David Shearman with his amazing persistence undertook to complete the necessary paperwork and on the 19th October 2002 Doctors for the Environment, Australia was well on its way to becoming a fully constituted environmental entity at the Mornington meeting. Policy development commenced early 2002 when Tony McMichael, David Shearman and Colin Butler wrote a Position paper on climate change and human health for our parent organisation International Society of Doctors for the Environment. DEA then used this Policy for its work in Australia. Also in 2002 a number of key articles were published in medical journals and magazines to interest the profession in climate change and to provide text for circulation. Foremost of these was Shearman D. Time and tide wait for no man.BMJ 2002 325 14661468 http//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC139043/ The initiative continued in 2003 when DEA announced its birth to RACP members with a five page leading article in RACP News by Tony McMichael, Linda Selvey and David Shearman. The article was entitled The Impact of Global Climate Change on Human Health and concluded with an invitation to join DEA. We stated Doctors have the opportunity and an often unacknowledged duty to engage with these issues as part of our obligations to alleviate human suffering. For the majority of us it is important to contemplate that the world is descending into conflict, and environmental chaos will serious imperil our ability to utilise the benefits of our medical research and our advances in patient care. This burst of enthusiastic promotion by some members of the College culminated in the formation of committees to take the matter further. Unfortunately as history tells us these fell on hard times with lack of support from the College. Only recently in 2014 did the College recognise its duties to address climate change as an international health issue. Canberra 2003 The First Annual General Meeting At its first formal Annual General Meeting in Canberra in November 2003, which linked with a symposium entitled In Search of Sustainability at the Shine Dome, the Management Committee elected Bill Castleden as Chair of the organisation and David Shearman as Secretary. DEA was still in an embryonic state. However policy and modus operandi evolved quickly. The human health aspects of climate change became our priority. Our role, perhaps best described as a niche role, was to explain the extra dimension that climate change is not just an environmental issue but one that will increasingly affect the wellbeing and health of all humanity. Governments had failed in two ways during the past decade when climate science was much more certain than the soft economic data they acted on every day, they had been in denial then in 2003 when they accepted the science there was much rhetoric and little action of consequence. Doctors for the Environment, Australia tried to act within this paradigm and bring its limited human resources to bear on those points where it could be most effective. We asked our membership to recognise that the scenery had changed we now had to examine the inappropriate functioning of government and society if we were to have any hope of controlling greenhouse emissions. The events and progress over 2004 are factually detailed in the first Annual Report but this fails to convey the burst of activity on most of the initiatives we encompass today. The output of letters and attendance at relevant meetings including the ISDE General Assembly in Europe was prodigious. A general election was held in 2004 and all members of parliament received correspondence from us. Many Ministers and Shadows were visited during 20034 and the major parties received a questionnaire the results of which were posted on the new DEA web site created by the hard work of Gerald Bonello in 2002 followed by Glen Morris and then Peter Mansfield DEA member and creator of Healthy Skepticism. Commencement of Submissions to Parliament In 2004 our first submission to parliament was made to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, on the USFTA and at the subsequent one hour hearing we presented inadequacies of the Treaty in terms of climate change accounting and the absence of externalities. Other submissions made in 2004 were to the Mandatory Renewable Energy Panel, on the health benefits of increasing the percentage of renewable energy. Of 245 submissions ours was the only that dealt with health. After discussion with the secretariat Tony McMichael was asked to address the committee in Canberra on our behalf. Premier Bracks on the greenhouse aspects of the Australian Grand Prix and suggestions for mitigation. the AMA Annual General Meeting in May 2004, Proposal for Environment and Health to be a special topic. the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator in relation to genetically modified canola. the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, in relation to health implications of not properly protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Mr Mike Rann, Premier of South Australia. Critique of the Economic Development Plan in relation of its failure to consider health related issues. State Committees and Further Development of DEA State Committees were also established in 2004 and it was not surprising that some of our first actions were to add our voice to many others for the preservation of old growth forests in Tasmania and in the Daintree where we quickly made our mark with media interviews. Early policy preparation was productive not only in the sphere of climate change but a Population Policy for Australia was developed. Throughout this year of frenzied activity, a constitution was prepared with the assistance of environmental lawyers, and negotiations took place on the establishment of appropriate insurance and on tax deductibility status with the establishment of The DEA Fund for tax deductible donations. No one said but I dont have time but there were no distractions from mobile phones, Twitter or Facebook. An Accountant Graeme Marshall was found who kindly worked for us pro bono. Treasurers Peter Mansfield and then Sarah Morton struggled to pull together a small membership base and pay the bills and by the end of 2013 we had recruited 140 paying members. The annual fee was set at $42. In September 2004 the Constitution was altered to bring students into full membership. The committee was joined by Gilles Rohan ACT and Sian Hughes Victoria. The Scientific Advisory Committee was formed to provide medical and scientific expertise and enhance our standing and credibility as an environmental organisation. There was no paid assistance. Throughout this period Clare Shearman put aside her interests and worked full time or more to do the letters, submissions and preparation for everything including meals for the Hon Secretary! The car was permanently full of dozens of letters en route to the post. It is not just DEA that owes a tremendous debt to Clare for helping found the organisation but to society itself and the climate change movement in particular for volunteers we see in Conservation Councils and other NGOs are3 fundamental to the functioning of society. In 2010 DEA employed a full time Administration Officer. Until that time DEA had managed with parttime casual secretaries. Action and Achievements 200511 In 2005 DEA received a grant from the Federal Environmental Education Research Grant Scheme. Our proposal Community environmental education using human health messages, aimed to improve the communitys understanding of major environmental issues, by developing two posters on biodiversity http//dea.org.au/resources/file/biodiversity_poster1 and climate change http//dea.org.au/resources/file/climate_change_and_health_poster that linked human and environmental health. These posters were displayed in the waiting rooms of DEA members, and other interested doctors. The poster on climate change was cobadged and further promoted by the AMA. We recognised that adult personal responsibility is important in improving both environmental and health outcomes despite the fact that school aged children are the only representatives of the general community who are routinely exposed to environmental messages. The posters were crafted to target the general adult community of which approximately 80 visit a general practitioner at least once a year. This large captive audience is representative of the adult population and usually has waiting time to absorb the health messages on display. A secondary goal of the initiative was to increase the awareness of environmental health issues by all medical practitioners. An initial run of 300 posters was taken up by DEA members followed by other practitioners after significant media publicity. During 2007 we established a relationship with RACGP to distribute future posters and thereafter further mail outs were made by the Medical Observer. In conclusion we found that many medical practitioners did not have enough awareness to consider displaying the posters. This began an important learning curve by DEA on the ways in which to involve the medical profession. However there were some positive outcomes from the enthusiastic display of posters by DEA members and the request for posters from a large number of schools. We acknowledge the work of Sarah Morton in initiating this educational initiative and to David King for the development and delivery of this program which extended to several other climate related posters. The Federal Government grant may have reflected our good relationship with Senator Ian Campbell, Minister for the Environment whom we met with in April 2005 and who accepted the health argument to climate change and indeed his acceptance of the very real threat of climate change. Thereafter climate change issues became increasingly politicised. Policy Development Subsequent to the Climate and Health Policy of 2002 the important work on policy by the Management Committee continued with the preparation of A Policy on Health and Forests released in 2005. This was deemed essential to both climate change and the battle to save old growth forest in Australia from logging. A draft document for Childrens Environmental Health, 2005. DEA first recognised the importance of childrens health in relation to increasing concerns about persistent organic pollutants and about climate change. To increase our expertise in environmental hazards in childhood, Mariann LloydSmith the Coordinator of the National Toxics Network Inc NTN, a public interest nongovernment organisation which is the Australian focal point for the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network IPEN, was appointed adviserhttp//dea.org.au/about/committees An Energy Policy for Australia was also prepared in response to discussion and suggestions at the 2005 AGM though it does not appear on the DEA web site till 2008. This is a large document which reviews all modalities of energy production and their relevance to a sustainable future. All modalities of energy including nuclear were analysed for their health aspects. Submissions to Parliamentary Committees Early submissions by DEA indicated the range of climate related topics being researched and developed. Submission to the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review July 2006. This submission detailed the health concerns in relation to any expansion of the nuclear industry. https://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/UMPNERsubmission.pdf Response to the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review Report, December 2006. https://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/UMPNER_Report_response_from_DEA.pdf Submission to Inquiry into a Sustainability Charter, House of Representative Standing Committee on Environment Heritage, written by Dr Colin Butler, May 2006. Submitted by David Shearman on Sat, 24/02/2007 1521.https://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/DEA_Submission_02.pdf Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry and Resources. 27/09/2007 Inquiry into the development of Australias nonfossil fuel industry Case study into selected renewable energy sectors https://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/House_of_Reps_Standing_Committee_on_Industry_and_Resources.pdf The year of 2007 was an election year and was highly productive year for DEA delivered by a keen Management Committee and emerging state committees. The level of activity is evidenced by the large number of publications on Pp 68 of the Annual report which were augmented by Bill Castleden and Grant Blashki being appointed Al Gore ClimateEducators followed by Linda Selvey and Nick Towle. Consequently there were many more talks to communities. For the Federal election in 2007 Professor Peter Newman and Dr Gary Glazebrook prepared a Public Transport and Green City Manifesto. In fact this has remained as a policy document long after the election for it defined how transport should proceed over the next decade. The manifesto was issued in conjunction with the Public Transport Users Association PTUA, and simultaneously with letters to all federal parliamentarians. Briefing of Politicians This initiative was developed by DEA from 2004 onwards when many Ministers and Shadows were visited before the 2004 election. It was one of the most difficult of our tasks in terms of organising and delivering meetings. The intent was to brief and educate but also to maintain the contact so as to provide further information as necessary. With the 2007 election pending, DEA attempted to see key Ministers and Shadow Ministers in the health and environment portfolios as well as numerous nonministerial members and senators. We had meetings with Anthony Albanese, Peter Garrett, Nicola Roxon, Jan McLucas and Kevin Rudd. We also met Senator Christopher Evans, leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Shadow Minister for National Development, Resources and Energy emphasising that the interest in health includes most other portfolios and especially energy. We requested a well known member of federal parliament to peer review our process of briefing and to present criticisms for our consideration. The only criticism was that we were not seeing enough members. The process we use was regarded as unique and our standing and presentation took us to the forefront of what other groups were doing. Joint Scientific Meeting of DEA and Rural Health West This meeting, organised by the WA Committee took place in Fremantle on November 3 2007 and heralded the commencement of state committees organising a DEA scientific meeting at the same time as face to face management committee meetings and the AGM. The meeting was an outstanding success with 200 registrants of whom 28 were DEA members. The two keynote lectures were given by Dr Bill Castleden, Chair, DEA , Global healing a WA Perspective and by Dr Colin Butler, Epidemiologist Australian National University and member of the Management Committee DEA, Global health, global tensions and climate change. Other speakers included Dr Judy Edwards MLA and Prof Lyn Beazley, WA Chief Scientist. DEA Chairs Dr Bill Castleden 20022008 Bill Castleden, a vascular surgeon from WA, accepted an invitation to attend the foundation meeting of DEA on the Mornington Peninsula in October 2002 and then assisted in the work of a slowly evolving team and was elected Chair of DEA at the first AGM in 2003 and served for 5 years. He says I perceived my main roles to be the chief support for DS as Secretary, to recruit as many new members of DEA as possible, to communicate as much as possible with other medical and environmental organisations, and to communicate with the publicatlarge. I established the WA Subcommittee of DEA and commenced a series of eighteen 3monthly newsletters that finished in November 2008 Indeed, Bill assisted with much else including Annual Reports, national newsletters and publications. He might be described as a working Chair and fulfilled the philosophy agreed for members of the management committee to share the load. He had a prodigious capacity to educate and after becoming an Al Gore educator he quickly completed 28 community talks in 2007, mainly to large audiences However it was to Bills skills of Chairpersonship that DEA owes so much. He was affable, diplomatic, positive and collegiate. He vacated the Chair in 2008 and has continued to assist DEA in many ways including service on the DEA Fund Committee. Professor Michael Kidd 20082010 Michael was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Flinders Medical School and a prominent medical figure in Australian medicine. Previous to his move to Adelaide he was Professor and head of the Discipline of General Practice at The University of Sydney. He was President of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners from 20022006 and during this time developed a partnership between the RACGP and Doctors for the Environment Australia. He is an elected member of the executive committee of The World Organisation of Family Doctors and is their liaison person with the World Health Organisation. Michael brought a different dimension to the workings and image of DEA for he had many national contacts and was very experienced in dealing with the echelons of the profession. He was a great speaker and Chair, likable and efficient, he took a particular interest in fostering younger members of DEA committees to leadership. He worked to build confidence perhaps best epitomised by his words in an Annual Report The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan, recently wrote that, Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Climate change will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, s ome of the most fundamental determinants of health food, air, water. In the face of this challenge, we need champions throughout the world who will work to put protecting human health at the centre of the climate change agenda. Doctors for the Environment Australia is one of these champions and over the past year the members of our organisation have continued to alert doctors and the public in this country on the health effects of environmental degradation and the huge health risks of climate change. Our members have provided advice and support on ways that we can all make a difference in the way we live our own lives, operate our clinics and hospitals, and in the way we provide care and advice to our patients. Professor Kingsley Faulkner 2011current Kingsley took over the Chair in 2011 and was the DEA representative at the Transforming Australia National Summit, Geelong, Victoria in September 2011. His contributions will be detailed when this history of DEA is completed. The DEA Web Site DEA attached particular importance to the need for a well functioning informative web site and a simple site was created in 2002 by Gerald Bonello even before DEA was formally announced. Thereafter there were numerous changes and revisions initially by Glen Morris and then by Peter Mansfield DEA member and creator of Healthy Skepticism who undertook significant revisions which resulted in a sixfold increase in the number of hits. Our Educational Role in 2008 In 2008 our mission was to focus even more on the need to educate on the health aspects of climate change. This aligned with the World Health Organisations WHO protecting health from climate change theme for World Health Day in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security. Indeed for DEA 2008 was a year of successful educational activities and we emerged as a significant contributor to health issues at a national level. Climate Change Health Check 2020 https://dea.org.au/images/general/Climate_Change_Health_Check_2020.pdf To recognise World Health Day and the topic Protecting Health from Climate Change, together with the Climate Institute, we released this national report written by Dr Graeme Horton and Professor Tony McMichael. The aims were to emphasise that climate change is a health issue and to indicate that there would be changes to medical practice as a result of climate change. The report was endorsed by the RACGP and the AMA joined in the press release. The Presidents of both organisations helped with media. The media take was very successful. DEA and the Climate Institute did over 40 interviews on radio and articles appeared in the Age, West Australian, Sunday Tasmanian, ABC online and ABC Rural. In addition there was a large take in rural newspapers. Interviews were also given by the AMA and RACGP. Overseas the interviews included Radio Fra


Founding Year:



Still active

Type of Group:


Primary Focus:


Geographic Sphere:


Primary Location: