Page 228 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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Although Canberra is generally a very healthy community, there remain some worrying trends which have been confirmed once again by the Chief Health Officer’s 2012 report, which was tabled here in the Assembly in August of this year. As members know, the report provides information on the health and wellbeing of the ACT population, including trends and indicators in health status, potential public health risks, morbidity and mortality, notifiable conditions, health promotion activities, harm minimisation activities and access and equity indicators relevant to health. It provides a wealth of information to support and inform government in the development of relevant policy and programs to address the trends and issues identified, and I thank the Chief Health Officer for his report.

The good news is that our health status is generally stable or improving. We enjoy longer life expectancies, and mortality rates are declining for many leading health concerns, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes.

Pleasingly, the proportion of daily adult smokers has declined from 15.2 per cent in 2007 to 11.7 per cent in 2010. Smoking by secondary school students has halved in just over a decade, and long-term illicit drug use has also decreased. A deal of credit needs to be given to the government, and our Labor federal colleagues in the continued strong endeavour to reduce smoking rates.

Still, many in our community lead unhealthy lifestyles increasing the risk of premature death and disability. Unfortunately, more than half of all ACT adults are overweight or obese and, most worryingly, by kindergarten 15.7 per cent of children are already overweight or obese. The message is fairly well understood—we need to eat better and move more, and yet many are not heeding the warnings and not making those healthy choices. Being overweight and obese increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, hypertension, musculoskeletal conditions, respiratory conditions, social isolation, depression and other psychological disorders and sleep apnoea.

Being overweight and obesity are significant public health problems not just in the ACT but for our nation. Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer are of significant concern and account for a high proportion of deaths and disability and illness in the ACT. Nutritious food, regular physical activity and maintenance of healthy weight are vital for healthy growth and development in childhood and good health throughout life. They provide a foundation for coping with the stresses of daily life, improve people’s general sense of wellbeing and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

The government has, over many years, been driving this message through a range of initiatives and investments. Whilst I cannot outline all of these today, I would like to touch on a few. In the 2009-10 budget the ACT government allocated $11 million over three years to support preventative health measures. The initiatives funded closely aligned with the preventive health agenda at the national level through the national partnerships agreement on preventive health signed by the Council of Australian Governments in November 2008. Specific campaigns have been developed

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