Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1729 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The Chief Health Officer's report also details a number of innovative policies, programs and health promotion initiatives we have in place to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the ACT. For instance, the ACT has been a pioneer in legislating smoke-free areas in public places and serves as an example to other states and territories. We also have a very low rate of unsafe disposal of needles and syringes due to our needle and syringe programs. More recently, we have funded a project to harmonise asthma care for children across the continuum of health, welfare and education services in the ACT.

I encourage members to read the report, which provides the baseline data for a rational and well-considered approach to planning health services for the ACT and for understanding the wellbeing of our community.

I would like to draw attention to a couple of issues in the report. The report indicates that in 1999 the ACT had the highest rate of peri-natal deaths in Australia. I draw attention to this to make the point that these statistics published by the ABS may include New South Wales residents, which may inflate the rates. Examination of peri-natal deaths among ACT residents show that the rate is not significantly different to the Australian rate, and the rate does fluctuate considerably from year to year due to the impact of small increases and decreases in numbers of deaths. I make the point just to alert members to the difficulties of interpreting issues such as this with small numbers.

Similarly, the ACT in 1999 had the third highest rate of suicide in Australia. However, the ACT's small population means care must be taken in drawing conclusions of statistical significance based on one year. The rate of suicide in males in the ACT between 1995 and 1999 was lower or similar to that of Australian males. The rate of suicides in females in the ACT fluctuated, with no clear pattern, but it was generally similar to the Australian rates of suicides in females.

Results from the 1995 national health survey showed that the ACT had the second highest rate of medium/high-risk drinkers and the highest rate of female high-risk drinkers. More recent results from the 1998 national drug strategy household survey showed that hazardous alcohol use varies with age; hazardous use is higher in our younger people aged 14 to 19 years, lower in those aged 20 to 29 years and higher in 30 to 39-year-olds; and for those aged 40 years and over, the rate of hazardous drinking is similar.

These statistics are produced from the 1995 national health survey and the 1998 national drug strategy household survey and are not from the recently released Australian secondary school alcohol and drug survey. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation of the ACT of course provides residential support to families affected by alcohol abuse.

In relation to indigenous health, it is notable that indigenous people make up a disproportionately large number of clients accessing services in the ACT with drug and alcohol problems, and I have mentioned that.

In relation to illicit drug use, people reporting ever having used any illicit drug is slightly higher in the ACT, and the difference is unlikely to be statistically significant. Recent use in the last 12 months of illicit drugs generally was lower in the ACT, but cannabis use was higher. The rate of lifetime use of heroin was lower in the ACT. These statistics were also produced from the 1995 national health survey and the 1998 national drug

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .