Page 3298 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 16 August 2011

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Debate (on motion by Ms Le Couteur) adjourned to the next sitting.

Health—social determinants

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Speaker has received letters from Dr Bourke, Ms Bresnan, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Mr Hargreaves, Ms Hunter, Ms Le Couteur, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Bresnan be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The social determinants of health.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (5.24): The Greens have nominated the social determinants of health as a matter of public importance today as a person’s social and economic status is one of the most likely factors to influence their health outcomes. These health problems are also typically intergenerational. If we want to improve people’s health outcomes and assist them to live healthy lives, as policymakers we must recognise and respond to the social determinants of health—that is, the conditions in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, which are in turn shaped by political, social and economic factors.

In February 2010 there was a landmark report released in the UK called the Marmot review. The report was the product of a year-long independent review into health inequalities in the UK and was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health. The report concluded that serious health inequalities do not arise by chance and cannot be attributed simply to genetic make-up, unhealthy behaviour or difficulties in accessing medical care, important as these factors may be. Rather, it is socioeconomic factors that have a direct influence on how long a person lives and the burden of disease they will be exposed to and it is those socioeconomic factors that for many people will exert a greater impact on their personal health than either biomedical or healthcare factors.

In late 2010 a report called Health lies in wealth was produced by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling and Catholic Health Australia. It said that household income, level of education, household employment, housing tenure and social connectedness all matter when it comes to health. Reducing health inequalities is a matter of social inclusion, fairness and social justice.

If we are to achieve true health reform and significantly improve the health outcomes of the Australian and the ACT populations we must engage in debate about why people lead the lifestyles they lead and then focus on the more basic and underlying socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by some segments of the community. If we are to improve people’s health outcomes, we must consider issues such as income, education and housing, as well as intrauterine conditions, early childhood experiences, social inclusion and support, stress, violence and food security.

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