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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1728 ..


Statement by minister

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the following papers:

ACT Public Hospitals-Report on Purchased Services-Second Quarter 2001-02.

Chief Health Officer-Report for the period 1998-2000, dated May 2002.

I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the Chief Health Officer's report.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, the ACT enjoys excellent health in comparison to most other jurisdictions in Australia, according to the 1998-2000 report of the ACT Chief Health Officer, which I have just tabled. The Chief Health Officer's report is a biennial publication required by legislation under section 10 of the Public Health Act 1997. It provides information on population health indicators, including health risk behaviours; morbidity and mortality; notifiable conditions; health promotion activities; access and equity indicators relevant to health; and social indicators relevant to health. People in the ACT also enjoy high-quality drinking water and air, have the highest level of vaccination coverage in the country and a correspondingly low level of vaccine preventable disease.

However, the ACT, like the rest of the country, has population groups that are vulnerable to health problems. For instance, the indigenous population in the ACT, though smaller in proportion than other parts of the country, tend to make up a disproportionately large number of the clients accessing health services in the ACT. In addition, it is estimated that 1 per cent of the ACT's indigenous population is aged over 65 years compared to 7 per cent in the non-indigenous population, reflecting the lower life expectancy for this population. My government acknowledges these problems and have made it very clear that indigenous health is one of our highest ranking priorities.

The Chief Health Officer's report also tells us that while our young adults have a lower rate of problem drinking, our young people aged 14 to 19 have a higher rate of problem drinking. The rate of recent cannabis use is also higher in the ACT. However, we know from the secondary school alcohol and drug survey that it is declining in our younger people.

Cancer, heart disease and stroke account for around two-thirds of deaths in the ACT. Our health promotion efforts are targeting the key health risk behaviours-smoking, poor nutrition, alcohol and lack of physical activity-to reduce the incidence of these diseases.

While our rates of vaccine preventable communicable diseases are low, we are closely monitoring the increasing incidence of chlamydia in the ACT. We have appointed an advisory council on sexual health, AIDS, hepatitis C and related diseases (SHAHRD) to advise on issues in the area of sexual and reproductive health.

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