Page 2208 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 June 2013
funding contract that they had with the government. So we have not cut funding. The funding that was allocated for this has run to an end.
In relation to looking to continue funding, what Mr de Castella sought was an increase in funding, from $200,000 to around a million a year. Large parts of that million were for screening kids. We already screen our kids, and we worked with Mr de Castella around changes to that program that did not have a lot of the costs associated with screening, and we also supported him to work with the Medicare Local and the national agency that has been established specifically to look at preventive health measures to see if they would support the program. At this point they are not either. So our funding has run to the end. It certainly helped in the short term with a small number of children that it had provided the program to, once it had screened the children. But the issue is 24 per cent of kids are now overweight or obese. So it is not about targeting the top 100; it is about changing behaviour in a broad-based population sense. We will release a healthy weight plan for the ACT in the not-too-distant future, and you will see the steps the government is taking.
Obesity is going to be like smoking. The steps that we are taking around tobacco control will need to be taken around this issue. It is not going to deliver the change through this sports science program. The government cannot afford that. We have to look more broadly at how we actually get to and reach all the children who attend our schools. Ultimately, it is a matter for parents to help us with as well. The government cannot solve the obesity crisis, but we can work broadly across the community in a population health based sense, and we can look at how we are providing information to families about making healthy choices.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Hanson.
MR HANSON: When did you make the decision to cut funding for SmartStart, and was it before or after you described the level of obesity in the ACT as “alarming”?
MS GALLAGHER: There was no decision to cut the funding. The timetable for the funding was made four years ago, and it reaches its conclusion at the end of 2013.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.
MR DOSZPOT: Chief Minister, has the government done any research into the additional cost of health services over a lifetime for an obese or overweight person as compared to a person in a healthy weight range? If so, what is the extra cost for an overweight or obese person? If not, why not?
MS GALLAGHER: We are doing some of that work as part of the healthy weight plan for the ACT. Yes, there are significant costs, but to suggest that a program of $200,000 a year that targeted a very small number of children is going to have any impact on those costs over the lifetime, when you look at the data available to the government you could not use that program and say that it will solve 26 per cent of our students being overweight or obese. We are building bariatric beds, bariatric ambulances, bariatric wards, bariatric consulting rooms and bariatric treatment areas