Page 54 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 25 February 2014

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DR BOURKE: Minister, could you tell us more about the government’s policy in relation to food and drinks in government schools?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, I can, Dr Bourke. On Friday, 21 February I had the pleasure of launching, together with my ministerial colleague Minister Burch, the fresh tastes: healthy food at school program, and we made some additional announcements about sugary drinks in ACT public schools. As mentioned earlier, the statistics are there for all to see. One in four children in the ACT is overweight or obese, including a growing number of kindergarten students. This exposes large numbers of children to the risk of developing serious illness later in life.

I know that parents and carers want their children to be fit and healthy and have that transferring to improving their learning potential at school. We do believe schools can support families and children to have those healthy lifestyles by providing them with support to learn about healthy nutrition and increasing the availability of healthy food and drinks choices in the school setting. This equips children to make those healthy choices.

I have to say I was terribly impressed at Palmerston primary school with the fantastic vegetable gardens that they are growing food out of, and by the new “bay cafe”, I think it was called—a new canteen which will only serve healthy food for children, and will reopen for that purpose. This is all part of the partnership—

Mr Coe: They did that without legislation. Amazing!

MS GALLAGHER: There is no legislation associated with this, Mr Coe, at all. There just will not be sugary drinks sold in ACT public canteens. But the schools are doing an incredibly good job. I did say that last week, in all the public comments I made in terms of the work that the canteen organisations are doing in relation to all of the non-government partners who have come on to support the work of fresh tastes. There were a number of them at the launch. It is all about educating children to make sure that they can have the underpinnings in their education around healthy food. (Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, has the government made any announcements recently on the obesity programs?

MS GALLAGHER: In conjunction with the work that we have been doing on fresh tastes, we also announced last week the allocation of the first successful applicants for the $2.2 million healthy Canberra grants program, which is the former HealthPACT grants program. This is an important round. The $2.2 million has been awarded to five different organisations as opposed to the past where funding was provided to about 40 organisations for much smaller amounts of money.

The successful applicants are ACT Medicare Local for a program where they will target children and provide guidance to families through education and primary

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