Dr Ben Lewis is a GP based in Warragul (the traditional land of the Gunai/Kurnai people) passionate about helping his local community in Gippsland transition from polluting sources of power to cleaner, more sustainable energy.
Ben is one of Healthy Futures formidable volunteers, co-chairing the volunteer group of GPs. Among the many activities Ben has done with us and for his local community, he chatted with WIN News about the release of our report on the health impacts of an early Loy Yang A closure. Here we talked to Ben to see where he gets his motivation from.
"I'm a general practitioner currently working in Warragul doing some extra training in GP anaesthetics. I've always enjoyed the country life and have gravitated back to the place I grew up over the past few years. I have a special interest in anaesthetics and am hoping to marry this with my work as a local GP. I'm also interested in working remotely in Aboriginal health and hope to do this once each year.
I've been concerned about climate change and the effect we're all having on the environment now for some time. Working in a regional area such as Gippsland lets you see first hand our environmental impact when you see communities that have been affected by the recent terrible bushfires but also how strongly the community is tied to the use of fossil fuels.
I wouldn't say that there is one particular moment/person/action that has inspired me, however I'm certainly inspired quite often by the work of volunteers in groups such as healthy futures.
I'd like to see a more collaborative approach to the problems we face around climate change. Groups such as Healthy Futures can, I believe play a key role in this by bringing stakeholders such as union groups, business groups and the local community together to tackle problems with shared goals in mind."
Why do you think individuals are an important part of achieving this vision?
"As medical professionals I believe that we can play a key role in illustrating the link between climate change and harm to human health. Doctors as a profession are quite unique in terms of the amount of trust they engender from the community and I feel that this allows us to play a key educative role on how environmental harm is a problem for everyone to deal with.
I am a volunteer with healthy futures and have recently become involved with a group particularly focused on environmental activism in Gippsland. I would like to see our group grow to include members from the community from not only the medical profession but also nursing and allied health. I would like us to assist in phasing out the use of coal fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley by 2030 and helping the community to transition to more sustainable forms of energy".
Is there something about yourself that we might not know?
"I've always loved being involved in musical theatre. I performed in a number of community shows when I was younger including les miserables in my local community. I don't have anywhere near as much time for this as I'd like anymore."