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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2420 ..

Many of these chronic diseases share common risk factors that are generally preventable, such as tobacco use, poor diet, high body mass index, alcohol use, high blood pressure and physical inactivity. Reducing these common and overlapping risk factors will be an effective means to improve our health outcomes and reduce the burden on our health system.

Mental illness is a leading cause of chronic disease in the ACT, with anxiety disorders and depressive disorders contributing to 5.1 per cent and 2.7 per cent of the burden of disease respectively. Of particular concern are the higher rates of anxiety in the ACT in comparison to the rest of Australia, accounting for 5.1 per cent of the burden of disease in comparison to 3.1 per cent nationally.

Also of concern is the increase in hospitalisations for self-harm amongst young people aged 10 to 24 years, with this group making up almost half of those hospitalised for self-harm. Many Canberrans will experience a mental illness at some stage in their life, and this can affect people’s lives, depending on the level of severity, from mild impairment to disabling impacts requiring health care.

Early intervention, or ideally prevention, can have significant and life-changing positive consequences for a person’s mental health. It is important to measure health and wellbeing at key development points across the lifespan. Children in the ACT receive a comprehensive health check in kindergarten and the health of children is surveyed in year 6. A new enhanced year 7 health check will commence in early 2019. The new health check presents an opportunity for early intervention with children as they enter high school.

Finally, we need to shift our focus from disease to wellbeing. I am proud that this report moves towards capturing data for the first time on measures of wellbeing. Considerably more is known about mental illness than about mental wellbeing. However, I would like to conclude with some positive news from the PATH through life study from the ANU. It shows that for today’s Canberrans our emotional health has increased, for both men and women, as we have grown older.

I have outlined here just some of the key findings in the healthy Canberra report. This includes examples of the ACT government’s initiatives to address these population-based health issues. There is much to be proud of in this report, but our work is not yet done in shaping our city, programs and services towards better health for all.

The path to a healthier Canberra requires collaboration and connecting our efforts across the health sector, across government and in partnership with academics, industry, community organisations and individuals. Working together and pooling knowledge, skills and resources, we have the best chance of delivering a sustained and comprehensive approach to Canberra’s health challenges.

The government is committed to working with our directorates and partners and the broader community to deliver on this. I would like to thank very much Dr Paul Kelly and his team in the health improvement branch for preparing this report. I commend

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