The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has announced it will jointly award the 2020 Sidney Sax medal for outstanding contributions to the development and improvement of Australian healthcare to the Australian National University (ANU) College of Health and Medicine's Bushfire Impact Working Group, and to Patricia Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).
During the 2019-20 bushfires, the ANU College of Health and Medicine's Bushfire Impact Working Group, chaired by Professor Robyn Lucas and Dr Arnagretta Hunter, was established to respond to the immediate needs of the community, as well as to the medium to long term recovery, prevention and preparation efforts for future bushfire seasons. Resources and information were made available on the physical and mental health effects of bushfires and bushfire smoke. Multiple research projects were initiated to study the health and health systems effects of fire and smoke, including the measurement and assessment of air quality, effects on lung function, and medium to long term impact related to pregnancy and children. Primary health capabilities were supported in communities in the ACT and South Coast NSW. This work has had wide impact, including on the recommendations and findings of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.