Labor announces public health initiatives

Source - Croakey

This weekend Labor announced a series of public health initiatives , totalling $300 million over four years, with commitments of:

  • $100 million over two years to establish 50 Healthy Communities nationwide, to help the communities that are at greatest risk of chronic disease to stay well.
  • $90 million over three years for Australia’s first National Physical Activity Strategy – to be informed by the 2015 National Physical Activity Consensus Forum’s Canberra Communique.
  • $10 million to introduce a National Nutrition Framework, with plans to Government will work with food producers and retailers to expand the Health Star Rating system, and continue the work of the National Food and Health Dialogue.
  • $50 million over four years to make the Victorian Better Health Channel the national health information platform.
  • Address harmful drinking through a National Alcohol Strategy to focus on evidence-based measures to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harms, including alcohol related violence. It will also focus on the riskiest behaviours, like binge drinking, and the most vulnerable populations, like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and young Australians.
  • $50 million over four years to help vulnerable groups stop smoking. Based on expert advice, a Shorten Labor Government will invest $20 million in a scaled-up National Tobacco Campaign. There will be $30 million in targeting at-risk populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and Australians with mental illness. Labor’s investment will flow through Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).
  • $5 million over four years to expand the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program, which will allow the program to reach more than 300,000 additional kids over four years.
  • Continue Labor’s commitment to the National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. The Survey is a crucial tool for understanding how kids eat and move, but has not been conducted since 2007.

 

Health also featured heavily in Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s speech at the official Labor campaign launch in Sydney on 20 June.

Mental health, suicide prevention, and the framing of this election as “a referendum on Medicare” were among the health highlights .

Shorten pledged $72 million for 12 regional suicide prevention projects, to “unfreeze” Medicare rebates and reverse cuts to bulk billing incentives for diagnostic imaging and pathology, and sought to position Medicare as the defining issue of the election campaign.

Many important social determinants of health also were spotlighted, including fair funding for public education, support for TAFE and apprenticeships, equality for women and the need for action on family violence.