Denise Cauchi is the Executive Director of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) and has been a proud Merri-bek resident for the most part of the last 23 years.
Sustainable living at home
Living sustainably is a core value for Denise; she is a keen home gardener, composter and recycler, has installed solar panels and considers the food miles involved in the products she buys, preferring to buy locally from small businesses.
“One thing I’m getting strict on is packaging,” Denise remarks, “if it doesn’t come without packaging and I can’t make the sustainable choice, I try not to buy the object.”
She has been involved in environmental activism over many years and says that while she doesn’t get it right 100% of the time, challenging herself and her family to live more sustainably is a daily practice.
She describes her local suburb of Brunswick as an enlivening hub of multiculturalism, diversity and innovation, blessed with the Merri Creek green corridor of wild natural environment. The nearby CERES world-leading environmental park has always been a landmark for Denise; she enjoyed this pioneering sustainability space when her children were young and now it continues to be part of her local morning walks.
Activism in the workplace
Denise’s growing concern about the unfolding climate crisis led her to prioritise climate action in her professional life too. After a rich career in international development and human rights advocacy, Denise now leads the team at Doctors for the Environment Australia, as their Executive Director.
Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is an organisation of medical professionals in Australia solely focused on promoting good health through care of our environment. Guided by their vision ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People,’ Denise explains that DEA is in a unique position to help the public and our politicians see that the climate emergency is a global health emergency.
As the World Health Organisation states, climate change is the greatest threat to our health in the 21st century. Denise explains that the need for urgent climate action needs to be understood by Australians as beyond being an environmental issue.
“People need to recognise it as a health issue… because our health is already being affected by climate change,” says Denise.
“Increased heat is seriously affecting people with existing health conditions such as heart and kidney disease and some parts of Australia are predicted to become so hot that they will be uninhabitable. Last year’s bushfires took the lives of 33 people, and the associated smoke pollution that blanketed our cities for weeks led to over 400 deaths.”
Advocating as a united voice
Reflecting on the recent positive response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
“COVID has shown us the blueprint for how to act and what governments are prepared and able to do when really confronted by a health emergency. When health is really prioritised the flow-on benefits for our economy and people’s wellbeing are amazing.”
In a recent open letter to PM Scott Morrison, DEA have urged our federal government to commit to a healthy recovery for people and planet, meaning that post-pandemic economic investment should be assisting us to reduce our carbon emissions.
Denise emphasises that we all have a critical role to play in addressing the climate emergency and living more sustainably. She encourages fellow Merri-bek residents to see the power of their individual sustainability actions and the way we talk about climate change to positively influence the people in our lives.
“Ultimately we need to keep pushing our politicians and decision makers, we need our government to make supportive policy and regulation,” explains Denise.
The climate emergency is impacting people across the world, including right here in Merri-bek but, as Denise reminds us, “action is the antidote to fear” and we can all show our support for urgent climate action.
Learn what actions you can take in Merri-bek today.