Page 235 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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for better preventative health, where we were talking about the need for better coordination, where we were talking about the fact that this needs to be whole of government, indeed whole of community, the Greens and Labor would not support it.

So it seems that the government will not support a measure that is proposed by the Canberra Liberals and that makes all the sense in the world, but when it comes to providing $300,000 for a review for something this government have already ruled out, they will support it. So this government are driven by politics, not by what is in the best interests of the community.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (6.17): I would like to thank Ms Porter for raising this motion today. The Greens are also very concerned about issues around healthy lifestyles, preventative health and healthy children. I think that addressing the increasing occurrence of childhood obesity and chronic illness is vital. The Greens have a very strong preventative health agenda, and active living and healthy lifestyles are a major part of this. We have been pleased to see that this has also been a growing area in health policy in the ACT, and more generally across Australia.

It is of huge concern that almost half of Canberra’s children are not within a healthy weight range and that this trend increases into adulthood. This places a huge burden on our health system later down the track, as you can see with the small number of statistics Ms Porter noted in her motion alone, such as cardiovascular disease.

We know that we could reduce the pressure on our health system if we could reduce the incidence of disease and injury in the ACT which stems from chronic and preventable conditions related to inactive lifestyles and obesity. A key plank to achieving this is through implementing proactive preventative health measures.

The Greens’ focus on early intervention in mental and dental health, as well as preventative health initiatives around diet, nutrition and physical activity, is about making the health system focus more on people’s overall wellbeing and reducing pressure on the acute health system.

Ms Porter noted that rates of smoking have improved in the ACT overall but that further efforts need to focus on reducing rates of smoking for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Smoking is a major contributor to the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and alone is responsible for 20 per cent of all deaths for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The national partnership agreement on closing the gap in Indigenous health outcomes includes important work on this issue. We are very lucky to have the national coordinator for tackling Indigenous smoking, and recent ACT Australian of the Year, Dr Tom Calma, based here in Canberra. I would like to take this opportunity to formally congratulate Dr Calma on his award, and I look forward to meeting with him to discuss a range of issues, including Indigenous smoking, in the near future.

According to the ACT Health Council, obesity is actually the biggest threat to the ACT’s high life expectancy. Changes in food purchasing habits need to occur if we are to improve our society’s health. The Greens understand that, to do this, we need to support children and families to eat healthier foods.

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