Community-led responses, the need to integrate climate action and economic recovery, and a determination to not go back to ‘business as usual’ are key to addressing social and health inequities exacerbated by the pandemic, a VicHealth webinar panel discussion heard this week.
The event took place while nine public housing towers in Melbourne were in the midst of a ‘hard lockdown’, illustrating important paradoxes being thrown up by the pandemic, said panelist Veronica Pardo, CEO of Multicultural Arts Victoria.
“While talking about vulnerability in communities, what we’re seeing again and again is strength, seeing how community is the key protective factor,” she said, urging reflection on “how things might have been different (with the Melbourne towers) if communities had been central in designing the response that is aimed at keeping them safe”.
Sir Michael Marmot, leading global advocate for action on the social determinants of health and health inequalities, opened the panel event, which was titled: Addressing social and health inequities as we emerge from lockdown (watch a recording here).
Marmot outlined the devastating impact of austerity policies on the United Kingdom over the past ten years, urging governments and societies not to return to ‘business as usual’ as they emerge from the pandemic, but to put the climate change and health equity agendas together and ensure wellbeing is at the heart of economic policy.