Page 3999 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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MS GALLAGHER: It will be voluntary. As the first step of implementing the healthy weight action plan, I will be meeting in the next 10 days, I think, with the working groups that have been established to lead each of the action item areas. It is being led across directorates; it is not actually being managed by the Health portfolio. I will be meeting with all of them to talk with them about how they are going to implement the action items that sit within their area of responsibility, what their priorities are and how they are going to manage them. That will happen in the next 10 days and I am happy to update the Assembly further on that.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Wall.

MR WALL: Chief Minister, how will you ensure that staff within the ACT public service are not discriminated against because of their size?

MS GALLAGHER: We already offer programs across the ACT government around healthy lifestyles. So I see this as an extension of that. For example, we would run programs at different points where you could get your cholesterol checked. It is an extension of programs like that. They would be voluntary. It is not about making fun of people’s weight—anything but. It is about encouraging healthy lifestyles, and also acknowledging that people spend upwards of 40 hours per week at work, if you are working full time. That is a considerable part of your waking hours and employers should be leading the way to encourage healthy lifestyles within their workforce.

I think we are seeing pockets of it across the ACT government. It depends on the nature of the job you do as to access to particular programs or encouragement to get out and walk and undertake physical activity or eat well. What we would like to see is a more consistent approach and the ACT government leading the way and showing all employers that it adds up—that it makes good business sense to have healthy employees who are a whole range of different weights. No-one is having a view on how many kilos you are, but it makes very good business sense to have a healthy workforce. And that is what this is about.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Chief Minister, how does the government intend to include staff in competitions? What kind of competitions will these be, and will you rule out making it compulsory?

MS GALLAGHER: This is all voluntary, but the government will be leading the way and will be letting staff know this is an important priority for the government. I am interested to understand what the Liberals’ positioning is on this. Do they accept that there is a problem that we need to address? If so, what are the appropriate responses? I would have thought that encouraging healthy lifestyles at work was a key responsibility of employers going forward. That is certainly my view as Chief Minister—that if we can encourage healthy lifestyles and a better understanding and education of what contributes to poor health, and if we can address some of the reasons why people are physically inactive, then we are working towards solving the problem.

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