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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3769 ..


that the ACT enjoys a very high level of health status. However, it does reveal that there are health issues in particular population groups within our community.

It goes to the issues of demographic change that we have been talking about for some time and, from the Labor government’s point of view, the fact that there is going to be a significant population shift in the age group over 65. We will see quite a significant growth in the percentage of the population of the ACT who are over the age of 65 even in the next five to 10 years. Similarly, it projects a decrease in the number of young people, those aged between 10 to 24 years.

The report shows that the majority of adult Canberrans rate their health as either excellent or very good. As well, indicators show that more people in the ACT are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. Our life expectancy for men is going to rise to 83.1 years by 2015 and 86.5 years for women. That is an increase of 2½ years for men and almost two years for women. The infant mortality rate for the ACT was 5.5 deaths per 1,000 registered births.

Under lifestyle and health there are some concerning findings, and they go to the issue of how we prepare this city for the results of these changes in behaviour. We can see that less than half of all adults are doing the required amount of physical activity and only 13 per cent of adolescents are engaging in sufficient levels to meet national guidelines. Also, just over eight per cent of adults consume the right amount of vegetables and less than half consume the right amount of fruit. I think students do a little bit better—22 per cent of students are reported to consume four or five serves of vegetables a day and 41 per cent are eating the right amount of fruit.

There has been an increase in overweight and obese adults in the last few years. This is something that we are seeing across all population groups and, of course, does have an impact on the health system that we are going to need for the future.

The report goes to issues of health services and their use. It goes to the fact that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mortality in the ACT and is listed as one of the key areas where we see people hospitalised in the ACT. In the years to 2011 cancer projections are scheduled to increase by about 22 per cent a year, largely because of the similar growth that we are seeing in the proportion of the population over the age of 65 years. Between 2001 and 2005, there were over 6,000 new cancers diagnosed in the ACT.

Mental health is the third leading burden of disease for all Australians and is a major cause of chronic disability. We are seeing that those figures are replicated here in the ACT.

Diabetes is another area to focus on. At the moment we are seeing about 10,000 to 15,000 people in the ACT with diabetes, but it is expected that we will see an increase of around 50 per cent. That means that between 15,000 and 22,000 people in the ACT will live with diabetes.

This report really does go to support the government’s argument around the need to plan a health system for the future—a comprehensive public health response to the issues that we are seeing documented in other reports but which have come to light with the tabling of the Chief Health Officer’s report here in the ACT yesterday.


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