Aboriginal Health #obesity : 10 major health organisations support #sugartax to fund chronic disease and obesity #prevention

Young Australians, people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and socially disadvantaged groups are the highest consumers of sugary drinks.

These groups are also most responsive to price changes, and are likely to gain the largest health benefit from a levy on sugary drinks due to reduced consumption ,

A health levy on sugary drinks is not a silver bullet – it is a vital part of a comprehensive approach to tackling obesity, which includes restrictions on children’s exposure to marketing of these products, restrictions on their sale in schools, other children’s settings and public institutions, and effective public education campaigns.

We must take swift action to address the growing burden that overweight and obesity are having on our society, and a levy on sugary drinks is a vital step in this process.”

Rethink Sugary Drink campaign Download position statement

health-levy-on-sugar-position-statement

Read NACCHO previous articles Obesity / Sugartax

Amata SA was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

See NACCHO Story

SBS will be showing That Sugar Film this Sunday night 2 April at 8.30pm.

There will be a special Facebook live event before the screenings

 ” The UK’s levy on sugar sweetened beverages will start in 2018, with revenue raised to go toward funding programs to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and healthy eating for school children.

We know unhealthy food is cheaper and that despite best efforts by many Australians to make healthier choices price does affect our decisions as to what we buy.”

Sugar tax adds to the healthy living toolbox   see full article 2 below

 ” Alarmingly, with overweight becoming the perceived norm in Australia, the number of people actively trying to lose weight is declining.   A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that nearly 64 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.  This closely mirrors research that indicates around 66 per cent of Americans fall into the same category.

With this apparent apathy towards personal health and wellbeing, is it now up to food and beverage companies to combat rising obesity rates?

Who is responsible for Australia’s waistlines?  Article 3 Below

Ten of Australia’s leading health and community organisations have today joined forces to call on the Federal Government to introduce a health levy on sugary drinks as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling the nation’s serious obesity problem.

The 10 groups – all partners of the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign – have signed a joint position statement calling for a health levy on sugary drinks, with the revenue to be used to support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.

This latest push further strengthens the chorus of calls in recent months from other leading organisations, including the Australian Medical Association, the Grattan Institute, the Australian Council of Social Services and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Craig Sinclair, Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia, a signatory of the new position statement, said a health levy on sugary drinks in Australia has the potential to reduce the growing burden of chronic disease that is weighing on individuals, the healthcare system and the economy.

“The 10 leading health and community organisations behind today’s renewed push have joined forces to highlight the urgent and serious need for a health levy on sugary drinks in Australia,” Mr Sinclair said.

“Beverages are the largest source of free sugars in the Australian diet, and we know that sugary drink consumption is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. Sugary drink consumption also leads to tooth decay.

“Evidence shows that a 20 per cent health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages in Australia could reduce consumption and prevent thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke over 25 years, while generating $400-$500m in revenue each year to support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.

“The Australian Government must urgently take steps to tackle our serious weight problem. It is simply not going to fix itself.”

Ari Kurzeme, Advocacy Manager for the YMCA, also a signatory of the new position statement, said young Australians, people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and socially disadvantaged groups have the most to gain from a sugary drinks levy.

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends the following actions to tackle sugary drink consumption:
• A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary drink consumption
• Restrictions by Australian governments to reduce children’s exposure to marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages, including through schools and children’s sports, events and activities
• Comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages (and increased availability of free water) in schools, government institutions, children’s sports and places frequented by children
• Development of policies by state and local governments to reduce the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings, sport and recreation facilities and other public places.

To view the position statement click here.

Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between major health organisations to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.

The 10 organisations calling for a health levy on sugary drinks are:

Stroke Foundation, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Diabetes Australia

the Australian Dental Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia,  Parents’ Voice, and the YMCA.

Sugar tax adds to the healthy living toolbox 

Every day we read or hear more about the so-called ‘sugar tax’ or, as it should be more appropriately termed, a ‘health levy on sugar sweetened beverages’.

We have heard arguments from government and health experts both in favour of, and opposed to this ‘tax’. As CEO of one the state’s leading health charities I support the state government’s goal to make Tasmania the healthiest population by 2025 and the Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan, with its focus on reducing obesity and smoking.

However, it is only one tool in the tool box to help us achieve the vision.

Our approach should include strategies such as restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and limiting the sale of unhealthy food and drink products at schools and other public institutions together with public education campaigns.

Some of these strategies are already in progress to include in our toolbox. We all have to take some individual responsibility for the choices we make, but as health leaders and decision makers, we also have a responsibility to create an environment where healthy choices are made easier.

This, in my opinion, is not nannyism but just sensible policy and demonstrated leadership which will positively affect the health of our population.

 Manufacturers tell us that there are many foods in the marketplace that will contribute to weight gain and we should focus more on the broader debate about diet and exercise, but we know this is not working.

A recent Cancer Council study found that 17 per cent of male teens drank at least one litre of soft drink a week – this equates to at least 5.2 kilograms of extra sugar in their diet a year.

Evidence indicates a significant relationship between the amount and frequency of sugar sweetened beverages consumed and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  We already have 45,000 people at high risk of type 2 diabetes in Tasmania.

Do we really want to say we contributed to a rise in this figure by not implementing strategies available to us that would make a difference?

I recall being quite moved last year when the then UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t act on reducing the impact of sugary drinks.

“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation… I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks…..But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing.”

The UK’s levy on sugar sweetened beverages will start in 2018, with revenue raised to go toward funding programs to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and healthy eating for school children. We know unhealthy food is cheaper and that despite best efforts by many Australians to make healthier choices price does affect our decisions as to what we buy.

In Mexico a tax of just one peso a litre (less than seven cents) on sugary drinks cut annual consumption by 9.7 per cent and raised about $1.4 billion in revenue.

Similarly, the 2011 French levy has decreased consumption of sugary drinks, particularly among younger people and low income groups.

The addition of a health levy on sugar sweetened beverages is not going to solve all problems but as part of a coordinated and multi-faceted approach, I believe we can effect change.

  • Caroline Wells, is Diabetes Tasmania CEO

3. Who is responsible for Australia’s waistlines? from here

Alarmingly, with overweight becoming the perceived norm in Australia, the number of people actively trying to lose weight is declining.   A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that nearly 64 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.  This closely mirrors research that indicates around 66 per cent of Americans fall into the same category.

With this apparent apathy towards personal health and wellbeing, is it now up to food and beverage companies to combat rising obesity rates?

Unfortunately it is not clear cut.  While Big Food and Big Beverage are investing in healthier product options, they also have a duty to shareholders to be commercially successful, and to expand their market share. The reality is that unhealthy products are very profitable.  However companies must balance this against the perception that they are complicit in making people fatter and therefore unhealthier with concomitant disease risks.

At the same time, the spectre of government regulation continues to hover, forcing companies to invest in their own healthy product ranges and plans to improve nutrition standards.

The International Food and Beverage Alliance (a trade group of ten of the largest food and beverage companies), has given global promises to make healthier products, advertise food responsibly and promote exercise. More specific pledges are being made in developed nations, where obesity rates are higher and scrutiny is more thorough.

However companies must still find a balance between maintaining a profitable business model and addressing the problem caused by their unhealthy products.

An example of this tension was evident when one leading company attempted to boost the sale of its healthier product lines and set targets to reduce salt, saturated fat and added sugar.  The Company also modified its marketing spend to focus on social causes.  Despite the good intentions, shareholders were disgruntled, and pressured the company to reinstate its aggressive advertising.

What role should governments play in shaping our consumption habits and helping us to maintain healthier weights? And should public policy be designed to alter what is essentially personal behaviour?

So far, the food and beverage industry has attempted to avoid the burden of excessive regulation by offering relatively healthier product lines, promoting active lifestyles, funding research, and complying with advertising restrictions.

Statistics indicate that these measures are not having a significant impact.  Subsequently, if companies fail to address the growing public health burden, governments will have greater incentive to step in.  In Australia, this is evident in the increased political support for a sugar tax.  The tax has been debated in varying forms for years, and despite industry resistance, the strong support of public health authorities may see a version of the tax introduced.

Already, Australia’s food labelling guidelines have been amended and tightened, and a clunky star rating system introduced to assist consumers to make healthier choices. Companies that have worked to address and invest in healthy product ranges must still market them in a responsible way. Given the sales pressure, it is tempting for companies to heavily invest in marketing healthier product ranges.  However they have an obligation under Australian consumer law to ensure products’ health claims do not mislead.

We know that an emboldened Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking action against companies that deliberately mislead consumers.  The food industry is firmly in the its sights, with a case currently underway against a leading food company over high sugar levels in its products. This shows that the Regulator will hold large companies to account, and push for penalties that ‘make them sit up and take notice.’

At a recent Consumer Congress, ACCC Chair Rod Sims berated companies that don’t treat consumers with respect.  He maintains that marketing departments with short-term thinking, and a short-sighted executive can lead to product promotion that is exaggerated and misleading.  All of which puts the industry on notice.

With this in mind, it is up to Big Food and Big Beverage to be good corporate citizens.  They must uphold their social, cultural and environmental responsibilities to the community in which they seek a licence to operate, while maintaining a strong financial position for their shareholders. It is a difficult task, but there has never been a better time for companies to accept the challenge.

Eliza Newton, Senior Account Director

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download 2 @AIHW Reports : Remote Aboriginal Investment #Oralhealth #EarandHearing

 ” This AIHW report presents information on ear and hearing health outreach services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the Northern Territory. The Australian Government funded these programs and the Northern Territory Government delivered them.

Download the Report HERE : Ear and Hearing Program

AIHW Page and summary in Section 1 Below

” This is the second report on oral health services funded by the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Oral Health Program and the Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment Oral Health Program (NTRAI OHP). It covers the period from July 2012 to December 2015.

Where available, data from August 2007 to June 2012 have been included to allow examination of the effect of oral health services over the life course of associated programs delivered in the Northern Territory.”

Download the Report HERE : NT Remote Aboriginal Investment Oral Health Program

AIHW Page and summary in Section 2 Below

Section 1 : Ear and Hearing Service delivery

  • In 2015-16, 2,253 outreach audiology services were provided to 1,981 children and young people; and 1,011 ear, nose and throat (ENT) teleotology services were provided to 936 children and young people.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) conducted 1,211 visits to 1,125 children in 2015-16. This was an increase from 2014-15 when 668 CNS visits were provided to 622 children.
  • From July 2012 to June 2016, 9,221 outreach audiology services were provided to 5,357 children and young people, 3,799 ENT teleotology services were provided to 2,434 children and young people, and CNS conducted 3,087 visits to 2,614 children.

Improvement in hearing health status

  • The levels of hearing loss and impairment have improved slightly over the last 4 years. In 2015-16, 49% of Indigenous children had some type of hearing loss (compared with 52% in 2012-13) and 32% had a hearing impairment (compared with 37% in 2012-13).
  • Between July 2012 and June 2016, hearing improved for a large proportion of children and young people who received 2 or more audiology services. Almost half (48%) of the children who had hearing loss at their first service showed improvement in hearing at their last service.
  • More than half (59%) of children and young people had a reduction in the degree of their hearing impairment between July 2012 and June 2016.

Improvement in hearing health and ear conditions

  • From July 2012 to June 2016, the proportion of children and young people with at least one middle ear condition decreased from 82% to 75% between their first and last service.
  • Greater decreases were observed over the longer term. From August 2007 to June 2016, the proportion diagnosed with any ear condition decreased from 78% to 49% between their first and last service.

High demand on hearing and ear health services

A large number of hearing and ear health services have been provided, but there is much work yet to do. As at 30 June 2016, 3,090 children and young people were waiting for audiology services, and 1,841 for ENT teleotology services. While ensuring children most in need received services (through the priority listing system), a number of changes have been made to improve the overall efficiency of hearing health services, including enhancing CNS services, health promotion and education activities. However, the high demand on hearing and ear health services continues to be driven by the high prevalence of middle ear conditions among children and the chronic nature of the disease, which means the majority of children require repeated and long-term follow-up services.

Section 2 Oral Health Preventive services

Fluoride varnish treatment

  • In 2014 and 2015, 4,664 and 4,041 Indigenous children and adolescents received 5,054 and 4,441 full-mouth fluoride varnish (FV) applications, respectively. Compared with the previous report period (July 2012 to December 2013), the number of Indigenous children and adolescents who received full-mouth FV applications generally increased.
  • From July 2012 to December 2015, a total of 10,052 Indigenous children and adolescents received 13,541 full-mouth FV applications.

Fissure sealant treatment

  • In 2014 and 2015, 2,179 and 1,804 Indigenous children and adolescents received 2,323 and 1,943 fissure sealant applications, respectively. Compared with the previous report period (January to December 2013), the number of Indigenous children and adolescents who received fissure sealant applications generally increased.
  • From July 2012 to December 2015, a total of 5,324 Indigenous children and adolescents received 6,477 fissure sealant applications.

Clinical services (for example, fillings for tooth decay, and tooth extractions)

  • In 2014 and 2015, 3,159 and 3,378 occasions of clinical service were provided to 2,407 and 2,533 Indigenous children and adolescents, respectively. The number of Indigenous
  • children and adolescents who received clinical services decreased from 2013 to 2014, but increased from 2014 to 2015.
  • From July 2012 to December 2015, a total of 7,660 Indigenous children and adolescents were provided with 12,739 occasions of clinical service.

Oral health status of service recipients

  • In 2014 and 2015, the average number of decayed, missing and filled deciduous (baby) teeth was highest among service recipients aged 6—at 5.4 and 5.6, respectively; the average number for permanent teeth was highest among those aged 15—at 4.1 and 3.7.

Changes over time

  • The proportion of service recipients with experience of tooth decay decreased for most age groups between 2009 and 2015. The greatest decreases was found in the following age groups: for those aged 1–3, from 73% to 42%; for 5-year-olds, from 88% to 79%; and for 12-year-olds, from 81% to 69%.
  • Among children and adolescents who received at least 2 services within each program, those receiving services during the NTRAI OHP had a smaller increase in tooth decay, on average, than those in the Child Health Check Initiative Closing the Gap Program.

Aboriginal Health #Sugartax debate : Sugar consumption is critical to reducing chronic health conditions, including diabetes says NACCHO

sugar-tax

“The high costs of transporting food and groceries to remote communities mean that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in these areas are already paying inflated prices for these types of products, and all other grocery items.

“These communities are also less able to pay higher costs and have limited access to alternatives, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables – which, because of the long distances they need to be transported, are often past their prime and overpriced when they arrive,”

“Reducing sugar consumption is critical to reducing chronic health conditions, including diabetes; however, there needs to be more work done on how these issues would be overcome before NACCHO could support any tax-based approach such as a sugar tax.”

Chair Matthew Cooke from peak Indigenous health body, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has expressed reservations about the tax to MJA InSight.

See NACCHO Previous obesity articles HERE

 “sugary drinks were “killing the population” in remote communities, after the senate heard evidence of an “astounding” level of soft drink sales at remote community stores.

Senator Scullion said he has been working with remote stores to restrict the sale of larger bottles of soft drink.

“I’ve been trying to negotiate the two litre and 1.5 litres off the shelves completely,”

“It’s a difficult thing but the evidence shows that whatever portion you buy, a child will drink oneand-a-half litres.”

More recently he went to a community store where water was free, but despite trying to “hide the full-strength coke” it was the popular choice.

He gave one example where a remote community store was drawing half of its total profits from soft drink sales.

“It was the most expensive liquid in that store and everyone went straight there,”

Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion,

 ” TAXES on unhealthy foods, not subsidies on fruit and vegetables, are effective at reducing the burden of obesity, new research suggests, amid renewed clamour for a sugary drinks tax.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have found that a subsidy on fresh fruit and vegetables would not on its own produce health gains, because it would lead to an undesirable increase in sodium and energy intake.”

Authored by Sarah Colyer from MJA Insight

However, adding a subsidy to a package of taxes on sugar, fat, salt and sugar-sweetened beverages could be effective, they wrote. The combination of taxes plus the subsidy could avert 470 000 disability-adjusted life years and save $3.4 billion from the health budget, the modelling study found.

The study drew on detailed New Zealand price–elasticity data – which track variations in product uptake with changes in product prices – to quantify disease risk reductions associated with each change in risk factor exposure.

A sugar tax would be most cost-effective, the study found, followed by a salt tax, a saturated fat tax and a sugar-sweetened beverages tax.

Writing in the journal PLOS Medicine, Dr Linda Cobiac and colleagues said that their findings added to the “growing evidence of large health benefits and cost-effectiveness of using taxes and regulatory measures to influence the consumption of healthy foods”.

The findings about the subsidy might at first appear counterintuitive, they said.

“However, using price subsidies or discounts as an incentive to purchase more fruits and vegetables may have the effect of increasing real income available to buy food, including unhealthy products, and could therefore lead to an overall increase in dietary measures such as saturated fat, sodium, or total energy intake,” they wrote.

The federal government is facing growing pressure from public health advocates to tax sugary drinks, with the Australian Greens pledging to introduce a bill on the measure later in 2017.

Writing in the MJA, the University of Sydney’s Professor Stephen Colagiuri urged the government to make the tax a priority as part of a multicomponent strategy against obesity.

That call was echoed in a separate report released last week by the Obesity Policy Coalition, whose member organisations include Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Australia (Victoria) and Deakin University.

In his MJA article, Professor Colagiuri cited the introduction of Mexico’s sugary drinks tax in 2014, which was followed by a 12% decline in the consumption of taxed beverages and a spike in bottled water consumption.

“The ongoing impact of [Mexico’s] tax has been challenged with new data suggesting a small increase in sales of SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] in 2015, but still lower than the increase in pre-tax sales,” he wrote.

“Arguments that an SSB tax is an ineffective means to reduce consumption are inconsistent with food industry claims of potential damage and job losses, which instead may point to the industry believing that a tax would substantially impact consumption.”

Professor Colagiuri noted that Australia was among the largest global markets for sugar-sweetened beverages, with males aged 4–30 years drinking an average 750 mL (two cans) per day.

“Government pays for health services and consequently has a right and duty to address externalities to promote and protect public health,” he wrote.

However, the federal government last week continued its resistance to any form of sugar tax, with health minister Greg Hunt commenting: “We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer.”

Decrying the proposed tax as a “nanny state” response, assistant minister for health, Dr David Gillespie, noted that Denmark had repealed its sugar tax and dropped plans for a tax on saturated fats.

Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, said in 2016 that sugary drinks were “killing the population” in remote communities, after the senate heard evidence of an “astounding” level of soft drink sales at remote community stores.

David Butt, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance told MJA InSight that his organisation supported “the possibility of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages and using the revenue to subsidise access to healthier food options”.

Professor Andrew Wilson, director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney, said that compared with taxing sugar per se or salt, the proposed tax on sugary drinks had “the virtue of being fairly easy to define”.

“However, these drinks are so cheap to make that the tax will need to be substantial,” he added.

A recent report by the Grattan Institute recommended that sugar-sweetened beverages be taxed at a rate of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar, increasing the price of a 2-litre bottle of soft drink by 80 cents. This would raise about $500 million a year, according to the Grattan Institute, which predicted a resultant 15% drop in consumption of sugary drinks and a small decrease in obesity rates.

Professor Wilson stressed that any taxation approach should be “part of a package that includes education and support for good nutrition, promotion and facilitation of physical activity, with particular focus on school-aged and older teens, planning considerations and, possibly for some areas and groups, subsidies for fruit and vegetables”.

Dr Cobiac agreed, commenting: “Our modelling shows that the potential health benefits of using taxes and subsidies to improve dietary choices and the nutritional quality of our foods in Australia are huge, but ultimately, they are just one of a number of measures that are needed to tackle obesity.”

Dr Cobiac noted that 13 other countries had announced taxes on unhealthy foods or sugar drinks in the past 5 years.

“It was true that Denmark had revoked its policies,” she said; however, she added that it was likely that as early initiators “they did not fully foresee or plan for dealing with the resulting backlash from the food industry”.

“We will never know what effect the taxes would have had in Denmark; they were repealed before there was a chance to properly evaluate them,” Dr Cobiac said.

“While many people want to eat better and lose weight, it is not easy to sustain the changes in behaviour when we live in an environment where unhealthy foods are widely available, heavily marketed and cheap.

“That environment is unlikely to change without a really comprehensive strategy to tackle the obesity problem.”

Please leave your comment below

7 thoughts on “Sugar tax: what you need to know”

    1. Anonymous says:

      This debate has been going around and around for far too long. In the meantime, overweight and obesity rates are increasing. Public health advocates need to change tack and get on with their ‘real’ jobs to make a positive difference. Scrap the idea of additional taxes on processed foods. And as for ‘modelling studies’ to underpin an evidence base to guide action. We know what to do: listen to people demonstrating ‘Lived Experience’.

    1. Andrew says:

      I second the previous comment. “Modelling” is not evidence. Let’s see real world evidence first — does a tax on sugar actually reduce obesity rates? That is the only evidence that counts.

      As a side point, imposing a “sugar tax” will cause food manufacturers to substitute sugar with other sweeteners, e.g. stevia. The long term health implications of stevia (and other additives) are unknown. Of course public health “experts” love to pretend that they are omniscient and infallible, but some caution is warranted. Let’s not repeat the massive public health failures of the past, such as the notorious food pyramid which was based on the flimsiest of evidence.

    1. Dr Rosemary Stanton says:

      We do know what to do, but the political power of the processed food industry means we get obstruction to anything that might decrease sales of its products. Junk food and drinks contribute 35% of adults’ and over 40% of children’s energy intake. That is the elephant in the room and we need multiple actions to tackle it. A sugar tax is one that is simple to implement, especially applied to drinks.

      Even more importantly, we need to stop promoting junk food and drinks. That means stopping advertising these products during TV programs that children watch. It means sporting teams and sports heros not acting as walking billboards. It needs bans on advergames for children where product placement of junk foods and drinks are visible for the time spent playing the game – which may be 30 minutes. It needs schools to stop selling children junk food and drinks from the school canteen (which negates anything they might learn in the classroom).

      We also need to talk about foods rather than nutrients. The Dietary Guidelines talk about foods. Sadly, almost no one follows them – as shown by the fact that less than 7% eat even the minimal amount of vegetables and fruit recommended, and junk food consumption is so high.

    1. Roger McMaster-Fay MRCOG FRANZCOG says:

      Oh great, another tax and it worked so well on cigarettes!. We are one of the most highly taxed countries in the world! We need a new paradigm to tackle this problem and we doctors should be able to come up with one. What about tax deductions for people who loose weight?

    1. Dr. ARC says:

      Lot’s of salient comments from Rosemary and Roger. I do not believe that drinks alone are the major cause of obesity. As always if you put more calories in than you need or use in exercise the extra calories are stored as fat, period! We need to return to the era of good home cooking and stop eating out at expensive restaurants and quick take away options which are loaded with fat and sugar. Then and only then can we begin to tackle the problem of obesity.

    1. Virginia Fazio says:

      What will the food industry use to replace ingredients that are taxed? Instead of sugar in foods will they use starches and intense sweeteners? Metabolically very little difference between starch and sugar. Will saturated fat be replaced with unsaturated fats that may be less heat stable and produce byproducts may have other health risks? Will consumers go back to adding more salt during cooking and at the table to processed foods with lower salt levels? Research needs to be on the whole diet outcomes if some processed foods carry an additional tax. We know that how the food industry meet consumer demand for low cholesterol and low saturated fat foods did not always result in a “healthy” food. Perhaps as a community we need improved cooking and gardening skills so we rely less on highly processed foods.

  1. Andrew Jamieson says:

    Education, education, education!! Where is ‘health’ on the syllabus at our schools? What public education is there on nutrition despite the valiant efforts of the likes of Rosemary Stanton. We might as well tax cars even more more as we kill lots of people with them! And it has been well pointed out that sugar alone is not responsible for our health woes. Logically we need more put GST on food, however no government would seriously consider this

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Debate : # A sugary drinks tax could recoup some of the costs of #obesity while preventing it

bjoyce

Personal responsibility, not the Australian Tax Office, should determine how much sugar Australians consume, says Barnaby Joyce. Often as not, Barnaby’s recovery program involves half a packet of Marlboros, which he calls bungers.

Barnaby was much agitated on Wednesday about the suggestion by the Grattan Institute that a tax on high-sugar fizzy drinks might go some way towards alleviating Australia’s obesity problem.

“This is one of the suggestions where right at the start we always thought was just bonkers mad,” he declared, adding his party would not be supporting a sugar tax.

This shouldn’t knock you cold with surprise. Barnaby is the leader of the Nationals. Name a sugar-growing area and you’ll find a Nationals or a Liberal National Party member at the local school fete knocking back a mug of raw sugar-cane juice and proclaiming it God’s food.

But Barnaby wasn’t simply stopping at political solidarity with his northern MPs.

He had some Barnaby-advice on how you might lose weight without taxing sugar.

“People are sitting on their backside too much, and eating too much food and not just soft drinks, eating too many chips and other food,” he lectured.

“Well, so the issue is take the responsibility upon yourself. The Australian Taxation Office is not going to save your health, right. Do not go to the ATO as opposed to go to your doctor or put on a pair of sandshoes and walk around the block and…go for a run.

The ATO is not a better solution than jumping in the pool and going for a swim.

The ATO is not a better solution than reducing your portion size.

“So get yourself a robust chair and a heavy table and halfway through the meal, put both hands on the table and just push back. That will help you lose weight.”

Barnaby Joyce, living miracle, offers a health plan : Pictured above David Gillespie Assistant Minister for Rural Health and Member for Lyne

Note 1: The Federal electorates of Lyne which takes in Taree and Port Macquarie has been identified at the Number One stroke ‘hotspot’ in Australia.Refer

Note 2 : The Minister is not to be confused with David Gillespie Author of How Much Sugar and Sweet Poison : Why Sugar makes us fat .

xsweet-poison_jpg_pagespeed_ic_k1m_7kl1yc

In the wake of the progress report on Closing the Gap, the Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has declared sugary soft drinks are “killing the population” in remote Indigenous communities.

Key points:

  • Closing the Gap report found worst health outcomes found in remote communities
  • One remote community store drawing half of total profits from soft drink sales, Senator Scullion says
  • Senator Scullion says he thinks attitudes to soft drink are changing

According to evidence provided to Senate estimates today, at least 1.1 million litres of so-called “full sugar” soft drink was sold in remote community stores last financial year.

NACCHO Health News Alert : Scullion says sugary soft drinks ‘killing the population’ in remote Aboriginal communities

ob

Grattan Institute report

 ” Obesity is a major public health problem  In Australia more than one in four adults are now classified as obese, up from one in ten in the early 1980s.

And about 7% of children are obese, up from less than 2% in the 1980s.

The sugary drinks tax  revenue could be spent on obesity programs that benefit the disadvantaged, reducing the regressivity of the tax.

While the beverage and sugar industries are strongly opposed to any tax on sugar, their concerns are overblown.

A sugar-sweetened beverages tax will reduce domestic demand for Australian sugar by around 50,000 tonnes, which is only about 1% of all the sugar produced in Australia. And while there may be some transition costs, this sugar could instead be sold overseas (as 80% of Australia’s sugar production already is).

A tax on sugary drinks is a public health reform whose time has come.

The Conversation

A sugary drinks tax could recoup some of the costs of obesity while preventing it

In our new Grattan Institute report, A sugary drinks tax: recovering the community costs of obesity, we estimate community or “third party” costs of obesity were about A$5.3 billion in 2014/15.

Obesity not only affects an individual’s health and wellbeing, it imposes enormous costs on the community, through higher taxes to fund extra government spending on health and welfare and from forgone tax revenue because obese people are more likely to be unemployed.

In our new , A sugary drinks tax: recovering the community costs of obesity, we estimate community or “third party” costs of obesity were about A$5.3 billion in 2014/15.

We propose the government put a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to recoup some of the third-party costs of obesity and reduce obesity rates. Such a tax would ensure the producers and consumers of those drinks start paying closer to the full costs of this consumption – including costs that to date have been passed on to other taxpayers. There is the added benefit of raising revenue that could be spent on obesity-prevention programs.

The scope of our proposed tax is on non-alcoholic, water-based beverages with added sugar. This includes soft drinks, flavoured mineral waters, fruit drinks, energy drinks, flavoured waters and iced teas.

While a sugary drinks tax is not a “silver bullet” solution to the obesity epidemic (that requires numerous policies and behaviour changes at an individual and population-wide level), it would help.

Why focus on sugary drinks?

Sugar-sweetened beverages are high in sugar and most contain no valuable nutrients, unlike some other processed foods such as chocolate. Most Australians, especially younger people, consume too much sugar already.

People often drink excessive amounts of sugary drinks because the body does not send appropriate “full” signals from calories consumed in liquid form. Sugar-sweetened beverages can induce hunger, and soft drink consumption at a young age can create a life-long preference for sweet foods and drinks.

We estimate, based on US evidence, about 10% of Australia’s obesity problem is due to these sugar-filled drinks.

Many countries have implemented or announced the introduction of a sugar-sweetened beverages tax including the United Kingdom, France, South Africa and parts of the United States. The overseas experience is tax reduces consumption of sugary drinks, with people mainly switching to water or diet/low-sugar alternatives.

There is strong public support in Australia for a sugar-sweetened beverages tax if the funds raised are put towards obesity prevention programs, such as making healthier food cheaper. Public health authorities, including the World Health Organisation and the Australian Medical Association, as well as advocates such as the Obesity Policy Coalition, support the introduction of a sugar-sweetened beverages tax.

What the tax would look like

We advocate taxing the sugar contained within sugar-sweetened beverages, rather than levying a tax based on the price of these drinks, because: a sugar content tax encourages manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of their drinks, it encourages consumers to buy drinks with less sugar, each gram of sugar is taxed consistently, and it deters bulk buying.

The tax should be levied on manufacturers or importers of sugar-sweetened beverages, and overseas evidence suggests it will be passed on in full to consumers.

We estimate a tax of A$0.40 per 100 grams of sugar in sugary drinks, about A$0.80 for a two-litre bottle of soft drink, will raise about A$400-$500 million per year. This will reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by about 15%, or about 10 litres per person on average. Recent Australian modelling suggests a tax could reduce obesity prevalence by about 2%.


Author provided/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Low-income earners consume more sugar-sweetened beverages than the rest of the population, so they will on average pay slightly more tax. But the tax burden per person is small – and consumers can also easily avoid the tax by switching to drinks such as water or artificially sweetened beverages.

People on low incomes are generally more responsive to price rises and are therefore more likely to switch to non-taxed (and healthier) beverages, so the tax may be less regressive than predicted. Although a sugar-sweetened beverages tax may be regressive in monetary terms, the greatest health benefits will flow through to low-income people due to their greater reduction in consumption and higher current rates of obesity.

The revenue could also be spent on obesity programs that benefit the disadvantaged, reducing the regressivity of the tax.

While the beverage and sugar industries are strongly opposed to any tax on sugar, their concerns are overblown. Most of the artificially sweetened drinks and waters, which will not be subject to the tax, are owned by the major beverage companies.

A sugar-sweetened beverages tax will reduce domestic demand for Australian sugar by around 50,000 tonnes, which is only about 1% of all the sugar produced in Australia. And while there may be some transition costs, this sugar could instead be sold overseas (as 80% of Australia’s sugar production already is).

A tax on sugary drinks is a public health reform whose time has come.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health ” What Works Part 9 ” ; Hon Linda Burney’s Menzies Research Oration ” Community led programs “

 

Shadow Minister for Human Services Linda Burney makes her maiden speech in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

” Paternalism is symptomatic of a view of Aboriginal Australia which sees Indigenous people purely as the problem.

It speaks to that old lie – that Aboriginal people have inflicted this deprivation on themselves, and that governments must save them from themselves.

Despite my pessimism about the current direction of government approaches to the Aboriginal community I do see some cause for optimism.

The communities which are doing best are those which have found ways to support their own initiatives despite failing Government approaches.

I take heart from organisations like Tharawal in Sydney’s South-Western Suburbs – an Indigenous health services ( and NACCHO Member  ) which does not just focus on treating illness when it occurs.

They target what Sir Michael Marmot calls “the social determinants of health” and what the Menzies School of Health Research has worked so hard to identify. Stable housing, early education and social support.

And they are seeing excellent results. You know it is about providing this information to the organisations that already work in communities – it is not a lack of ideas, we know the programs that work and they are community led. ”

Hon Linda Burney MP : ” Truth telling and generosity – Healing the Heart of the nation  : Oration Menzies School of Health Research Darwin 18 Nov 2016

Photo above : the first elected Aboriginal woman in the House of Representatives Shadow Minister for Human Services Linda Burney makes her maiden speech at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

I open by acknowledging the Larrakia people on whose land we meet today.

I pay my respects to their elders past and present. I also take this opportunity to acknowledge their long struggle for equality, for land rights and for self determination.

I pay tribute to the Larrakia peoples’ determination in the face of denial and I mourn with them the loss of so many elders before their 23 year struggle for land rights could be resolved.

In acknowledging country I do not just pay tribute and respect –

I am acknowledging the fundamental truth that this land has played host to thousands of years of lived human experience.

Cultures evolving and changing since the first sunrise.

I want to thank the school for hosting me today. The world class socio-medical research published by the Menzies School of Health Research will lead to very real improvement in the standard of living for many Aboriginal people.

I also acknowledge today the special guests in the audience;

 Commissioner Mick Gooda, of the Royal Commission in into Juvenile Detention

 Tony McAvoy SC, the first Aboriginal Senior Council

And of course my colleagues;

 Senator Malarndirri McCarthy

 Luke Gosling MP

 Various Northern Territory administrator and MPs.

It is an honour to be invited to deliver the Menzies’ School of Health Research Oration for 2016.

If I can I’d like to offer my thoughts on 4 things –

  1. Truth telling and forgiveness, as I did for the Lingiari Oration in 2007 I want to remind you all of the importance of narrative and the need for truth as the bedrock of our reconciliation process;
  2. Recognition of First Peoples in our constitution – our next great project in truth telling and the one to which we must turn our attention to now;
  3. The perilous state of our Governments’ Indigenous Affairs policy today. and;
  4. The way, as I see it, forward from here.

But I want to start by appealing to your optimism – the facts of our condition can be dispiriting but I am reminded of the lessons taught to me by the late Faith Bandler.

I had the extraordinary honour of being invited by Faith’s daughter, Lilon, to speak at her memorial service in the Great Hall at Sydney University.

Faith more than anyone understood that we are playing the long game – it require understanding and devotion but most of all it requires patience.

The memory of Faith is an appropriate one – it was the work of Faith, along with so many others like Jessie Street and Alan Duncan that convinced the Menzies and Holt Government to hold the 1967 Referendum.

That 10 year campaign saw the revitalisation of the fight for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and began the journey of truth telling.

In my first speech to the Australian Parliament I told the story of an older non- Aboriginal woman making her way to the voting booth late on Election Day.

It was cold and dark and her daughter urged her just to give up and go home as she slowly made her way across the park to the local public school– but she insisted.

She said that her opportunity to vote for an Aboriginal woman “was history”. She saw that she had a stake in that election that transcended “bread and butter political issues”, she didn’t need to be an Aboriginal person to understand that.

She knew that the election of an Aboriginal woman was not just a victory for Aboriginal people; it was a part of our shared national history.

Not so long ago that would not have been the case – we had two distinct historical narratives.

A white one and a black one.

“White” Australia (as it was then) had no interest in Indigenous history, and “Black” Australia had no stake in engaging with a “White” future.

That old woman proved to me that we are changing this.

For the 1988 bicentenary campaign our signature poster was “white Australia has a black history.” –

That campaign, led by Kevin Cooke and Reverend Harris (with a young Linda Burney too) sums up the feeling.

I can think of few venues in which it is be more appropriate to discuss the reconciliation movement –

A school of health research; which, along with education, is one of the greatest areas of need for Aboriginal people and,

One named for our 12th Prime Minister; who governed in an era which saw the revitalisation and renewed push for equality and self-determination for our people.

His reign marked a turning point – the beginning of the end for the Australia which was nestled firmly in the bosom of the British Empire.

It was a time of national coming of age.

I am no political fan of Menzies but I think it is true to say that without him there could have been no Whitlam or Keating or Hawke.

Their fiercely independent and inclusive model of Australian identity was born of a rebellion against the era of Menzies.

So in this sense we owe him a debt of sorts.

When I was only 4 years old in 1961, Sir Robert Menzies hosted a delegation of Aboriginal people from mainland states.

They had already been fighting for years to see a referendum held which would grant Aboriginal people equal rights.

There was considerable excitement amongst the attendees, a meeting with Prime Minister was in itself a victory for a community almost completely excluded from the political process at that point.

Menzies served his guests alcoholic drinks.

Our Prime Minister was shocked when informed by one of the attendees that that act was illegal under state law.

Such was the denial of truth and the refusal to see discrimination in our country at that time – the sitting prime minister was, himself, unaware of this discrimination.

It was paternalism in its worst form.

Menzies resigned when I was 9 years old – he had been a constant on the radio and on TV for those who had them, for much longer than that.

This explains to some extent the reverence with which so many look back on this time. To them it was stable and prosperous.

But even looking back through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia – we cannot help but catch glimpses of the rampant discrimination of that era in the corners of our eyes.

Forced removal; captured so hauntingly in Archie Roaches’ “Took the Children Away, Government or church run reserves dictating the terms on which Aboriginal people could live, and; Government decrees which saw indigenous languages banned or even outlawed.

This was an era in which the Indigenous people of this continent were still considered biologically inferior, in which the White Australia policy still enjoyed bipartisan support.

It was a time in which the voices of women, non-white Australians and marginalised groups were systematically silenced.

So, while I pay my respects to Robert Menzies I cannot deny this truth. Nostalgia and reverence aside, this was an age of acute racism and a total denial of history.

We still considered ourselves an outpost of the British Empire, the millennia of Aboriginal history on this continent not only ignored, it was actively being hidden and destroyed.

I don’t know what Sir Robert Menzies would think of me delivering an oration named for him;

A woman;

An Aboriginal person, and;

A Labor member of Parliament.

Things have certainly changed.

If he didn’t accuse me of being a communist first, he might ask whether we had any political views in common and he might be surprised to hear where things stand today.

The fact is, regardless of political stripe, Menzies and I share some core political beliefs.

Sir Robert Menzies believed that government intervention could be a tool for good; he believed that the role of government was to empower the “forgotten” Australians and; He did saw economic growth as a means to an end not an end unto itself.

In his 1961 election address he noted that “a growing nation must be a healthy one”, and while it would be up to Whitlam to introduce a nationwide health scheme,

Menzies invested significantly in the area.

He was amongst the first leaders in Australia to recognise that the health of the community was a valuable measure of its prosperity.

And while his view of the 1967 Referendum was in some ways conflicted (Menzies himself having campaigned against some proposals) he also oversaw the passage of the 1963 Commonwealth Electoral Act which granted universal suffrage to Aboriginal people regardless of the state in which they were born.

Like the story of all governments when it comes to First Peoples’, Menzies legacy is mixed.

Menzies to some extent defined his generation but he was still a captive of the more exclusionary views of his day.

Truth Telling and Reconciliation

When it comes to the reconciliation process to date, truth telling is important.

Truth telling has been a theme of my public life to date.

In my view the path to reconciliation must be grounded in a fundamental commitment to truthfulness – it is one of the cornerstones of reconciliation.

As Dr Alex Boraine, deputy chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, noted at the Melbourne Reconciliation convention in 1997;

“Reconciliation… must be grounded in reality. There are 3 anchors which can keep us on the ground…. The first of these anchors is the experience of truth… of telling, of coming to terms with the truth of our past and the truth understood in this way transcends lies… it rejects denial to come clean in order to build, to heal.”

I told you earlier how surprised Menzies was to hear that the law prohibited serving his Aboriginal guests alcohol.

If not deliberately, then subconsciously, he had chosen not to see this discrimination.

As has much of the Australian community for the majority of our post-colonial history.

We cannot afford to do that.

In the last 30 years we have started to lay the anchor of truth –

We have a curriculum which teaches the truth of our history, we have a political system which now includes a record number of First Peoples and we have almost reached a national consensus about the imperative for action on closing the gap.

This kind of truth telling is not purely symbolic.

Children in our schools now understand that the history of Australia, or at least the

Australian continent, extends far beyond 228 years of colonisation.

And that is important. We won’t really be able to treat the malaise which afflicts

Aboriginal communities until the broader community understands the impact of generational disadvantage and cyclical poverty.

When Kevin Rudd delivered the apology to the stolen generation in the federal parliament he undertook a momentous act of truth-telling.

When that speech concluded two older Aboriginal women handed the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader a coolomon – it was an astounding act of generosity.

For that generosity we owe considerable gratitude, but it also demonstrates in part why the apology was so important.

That act of truth telling opened the door to forgiveness – and without it we cannot see old enmities consigned to the past.

After The Apology, as I walked into the marble foyer of the parliament I ran into Aunty May Robinson, an elder from South Western Sydney.

She held in her hands a black and white photo – and her only words to me when we saw each other were;

“Linda! I bought mum.”

We fell into each other’s arms crying.

Recognition

It is my hope that the Recognition of First Peoples in our constitution will be another of these great moments of truth telling, and that it will pave the way for a greater depth of understanding.

As it stands we have a Constitution which tells the story of western democracy; the Westminster system of government and a thousand years of its development.

But it says nothing of the more than 40,000 years of lived experience on this continent that preceded European arrival.

Our Constitution, the document on which the Parliament I sit in is founded, does not tell the truth. It is a fundamental failing and one that we cannot continue to ignore.

This is a part of the reconciliation process that Dr Boraine talked about almost 20 years ago and it is a fundamental part of our nation building project.

The symbolism of recognition belies powerful consequences.

I saw the feeling of relief on the faces of those old women in the Parliament after the apology and felt the relief of the broader Australian community at finally having acknowledged the truth.

More than anything else Recognition will add another thread to the tapestry of our national identity – a history and a story that we can all share.

I do not concede to any argument that suggests this act will be divisive. The true act of division would be a continued denial of the truth of settlement and invasion.

Recognition and Paternalism

I am also hopeful that Recognition will pave the way to a more consistent and effective approach to Government policy in the area.

For all the talk of “Prime Ministers for Indigenous Affairs” and a bipartisan commitment to closing the gap, we are yet to see the progress we need.

Life expectancy for First Australians is almost 10 years shorter than the rest of the community – the number blows out considerably further for those in rural or remote communities.

Our young people are locked up at ever increasing rates – almost 48% of those in the juvenile justice system are Aboriginal.

Our birthweights are consistently lower, as are our educational outcomes and our average earnings.

We are making slow progress – but it is not enough.

For every year that passes without dramatic improvement in our condition we draw closer to a point at which we will have failed yet another generation.

In the last week of Parliament I attended the launch of a report on the National Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Strategy.

How can it be that for Aboriginal people attending the funerals of young people is so commonplace?

One of the women who attended, Norma Ashwin, a mother who has lost her child, summed up the feeling of her community –

“We have nothing. Our kids have no hope, nothing, just a sense of no belonging… [we have] Lost everything…”

It is easy to see how in the face of this despair, Governments can turn to lazy policy options and to the comfort of the past.

Perhaps in frustration at slow progress Conservatives have done what they usually insist they will not – let the government pick and choose winning initiatives while ignoring community voices.

Conservative forces have continued to drive us back towards the paternalism of the past – from the “10 point plan” on native title and the destruction of ATSIC in the late 1990s — through to the very recent cuts to legal services, defunding of advocacy organisations and of course the denial of support for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

Half a billion dollars has been pulled out of the Indigenous affairs budget.

The trend is clear.

A concerted effort to silence the voices of Aboriginal leaders and a refusal to accept what we already know to be true —- solutions to our problems need to be found with communities, not imposed upon them.

Don Dale provides a perfect example – the Koori media had reported this story months before any mainstream news agency did and members of the local community will tell you – they had raised these issues before.

Indeed we know now that the both the Federal and State Governments’ were well aware of the issue.

But the story received scant political attention. Key advocacy organisation which could have raised the issues more loudly, either didn’t have the resources or didn’t exist anymore.

Paternalism isn’t just a failed policy approach because it pacifies communities and because it deprives individuals of their rights to self-determination –

It necessarily makes communication one way, from top to bottom.

Inflicting policy decisions on Aboriginal communities and then arriving later for a photo op and twitter post is not a substitute for consultation.

In the 1886 Corranderk petition to the Victorian government William Barak wrote on behalf of his people;

“Could we get our freedom back…to come home when we wish and also to go for our good health when we need it…”

It troubles me that today that I am increasingly asked by our community those same questions today – “can WE offer a solution?”… “can WE provide the services?” … “can WE our own choices?”

Command and control policy from Canberra will not help – at best it might make politicians and public servants in Canberra feel better at not having to hear cries for help

Paternalism is symptomatic of a view of Aboriginal Australia which sees Indigenous people purely as the problem.

It speaks to that old lie – that Aboriginal people have inflicted this deprivation on themselves, and that governments must save them from themselves.

Optimism and a Way Forward

Despite my pessimism about the current direction of government approaches to the Aboriginal community I do see some cause for optimism.

The communities which are doing best are those which have found ways to support their own initiatives despite failing Government approaches.

I take heart from organisations like Tharawal in Sydney’s South-Western Suburbs – an Indigenous health services which does not just focus on treating illness when it occurs.

They target what Sir Michael Marmot calls “the social determinants of health” and what the Menzies School of Health Research has worked so hard to identify. Stable housing, early education and social support.

And they are seeing excellent results.

I also see innovative new approaches, like the University of Melbourne’s first thousand days campaign – recognising that supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in that vital period bears real long term fruit.

Increasing birthweight, providing drug and alcohol support for expectant and new mothers – along with a whole range of other early interventions.

I am optimistic because we know that many of the solutions we need already exist – they are not prohibitively expensive or impossible to institute.

Here at the Menzies School of Health Research for example, you’ve done the research.

You know it is about providing this information to the organisations that already work in communities – it is not a lack of ideas, we know the programs that work and they are community led.

They just require political bravery – and with a record number of First Australians inside our parliament and an increasingly active and determined community outside it, I am confident we can find that will.

I am confident that you can find it on my side of the chamber – I have never had more faith in my party’s commitment to Indigenous Affairs.

I am optimistic because for the first time since colonisation we have a parliament that is beginning to represent the community and we will soon have a constitution that tells the truth.

I talked earlier about Faith Bandler and her long game.

She saw better than most that the campaign for the 1967 referendum was much longer than 10 years – it was a starting point for the project we are still running today.

Martin Luther King Jr said that “The arc of the moral universe [was] long but [that it] bends towards justice”

I think Faith agreed, I know I do.

But Faith more than most saw that it was up to us to shape that arc – and I am confident that we can.

We will have set backs, and we’ve taken some steps backwards but those aberrations do not define the trend.

This is a process of national healing, it is a long journey and it does take time.

To do it we need to tell the truth; and we are starting to do that.

We need generosity; and believe that the First Peoples have that in spades.

And most of all we need to accept that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a part of the solution not just the problem.

Most of all I take my optimism from the determination of Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal communities across Australia.

In her first speech to the Federal Parliament not so long ago your Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy said in reference to her people’s struggle for land rights;

“[We are] battle fatigued, perhaps we are better to acquiesce? But we are here still, and we are not going away.”

I think the sentiment applies far more broadly – now more than ever I believe in our communities’ commitment to addressing these issues.

We are not going anywhere.

NACCHO #ABS Aboriginal Health Report : Indigenous Australians consuming too much added sugar

 sugary-drink
 

In 2012-13, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2 years and over consumed an average of 75 grams of free sugars per day (equivalent to 18 teaspoons of white sugar)1. Added sugars made up the majority of free sugar intakes with an average of 68 grams (or 16 teaspoons) consumed and an additional 7 grams of free sugars came from honey and fruit juice.

ABS Report abs-indigenous-consumption-of-added-sugars

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consume around 14 per cent of their total energy intake as free sugars, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that free sugars contribute less than 10 per cent of total energy intake.

Director of Health, Louise Gates, said the new ABS report showed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are consuming an average of 18 teaspoons (or 75 grams) of free sugars per day (almost two cans of soft drink), four teaspoons more than non-Indigenous people (14 teaspoons or 60 grams).

OTHER KEY FINDINGS

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people derived an average of 14% of their daily energy from free sugars, exceeding the WHO recommendation that children and adults should limit their intake of free sugars to less than 10% of dietary energy.
    • Free sugars made the greatest contribution to energy intakes among older children and young adults. For example, teenage boys aged 14-18 years derived 18 per cent of their dietary energy from free sugars as they consumed the equivalent of 25 teaspoons (106 grams) of free sugars per day. This amount is equivalent to more than two and a half cans of soft drink. Women aged 19-30 years consumed 21 teaspoons (87 grams) of free sugars, which contributed 17 per cent to their total energy intake.
    • The majority (87%) of free sugars were consumed from energy dense, nutrient-poor ‘discretionary’ foods and beverages. Two thirds (67%) of all free sugars consumed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people came from beverages, led by soft drinks, sports and energy drinks (28%), followed by fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (12%), cordials (9.5%), and sugars added to beverages such as tea and coffee (9.4%), alcoholic beverages (4.9%) and milk beverages (3.4%).
    • Intakes were higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in non-remote areas where the average consumption was 78 grams (18.5 teaspoons), around 3 teaspoons (12 grams) higher than people living in remote areas (65 grams or 15.5 teaspoons).
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumed 15 grams (almost 4 teaspoons) more free sugars on average than non-Indigenous people. Beverages were the most common source of free sugars for both populations, however Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people derived a higher proportion of free sugars from beverages than non-Indigenous people (67% compared with 51%).

ENDNOTES

1 A level teaspoon of white sugar contains 4.2 grams of sugar.

sugary-drink-infographic

“Free sugars include the sugars added by consumers in preparing foods and beverages plus the added sugars in manufactured foods, as well as honey and the sugar naturally present in fruit juice,” said Ms Gates.

“The data shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban areas derived more energy from free sugars than those living in remote areas (14 per cent compared with 13 per cent).”

Free sugars contributed 18 per cent to dietary energy intake for teenage boys aged 14-18 years, who consumed 25 teaspoons (106 grams) of free sugars per day. This amount is equivalent to more than two and a half cans of soft drink.

Women aged 19-30 years consumed 21 teaspoons (87 grams) of free sugars, which contributed 17 per cent to their total energy intake.

“Beverages were the source of two thirds of free sugars, with soft drinks, sports and energy drinks providing 28 per cent, followed by fruit and vegetable juices with 12 per cent, cordials (9.5 per cent), sugars added to beverages such as tea and coffee (9.4 per cent), alcoholic beverages (4.9 per cent) and milk drinks (3.4 per cent),” said Ms Gates.

More details are available in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Consumption of Added Sugars (cat. no. 4727.0.55.009), available for free download from the ABS website, http://www.abs.gov.au.

agm

This year’s theme: Strengthening Our Future through Self Determination

As you are aware, the  2016 NACCHO Members’ Meeting and Annual General Meeting will be in Melbourne this year 6-8 December

1. Call to action to Present
at the 2016 Members Conference closing 8 November
See below or Download here

2.NACCHO Partnership Opportunities

3. NACCHO Interim 3 day Program has been released

4. The dates are fast approaching – so register today

 

NACCHO Aboriginal health : #AIHW #AustraliasHealth2016 : What are the health experts saying about the report ?

aus-2016

” The report has also pointed out ongoing areas of health inequality in Australia, driven by socioeconomic factors and social determinants.

Communities suffering socioeconomic disadvantage continued to have systematically poorer health including lower life expectancy, higher rates of chronic disease and higher smoking rates.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples recorded improved health indicators in some areas, including lower rates for smoking and infant mortality.

However, the report found life expectancy was shorter by 10 years than for non-Indigenous Australians, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continued to suffer higher rates of diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and end-stage kidney disease.

The impact of risk factors such as smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and harmful alcohol use have been emphasised as significant contributors to Australia’s rising rates of chronic disease.

This is an opportunity for health leaders and the Commonwealth Government to heed the report’s message that lifestyle factors and social determinants are significant contributors to ill-health, and to address the issues of health inequality and the importance of reform across all of our care systems “

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven

Download the report here australias-health-2016

 #AIHW and Minister Sussan Ley press releases from launch #AustraliasHealth2016 report

Life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians remains about one decade

The life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians remains about one decade, according to new statistics.

The latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) said that while health outcomes had improved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, they still remain below those of non-Indigenous Australians.

The biennial report, published today, shows Indigenous males born between 2010 and 2012 have a life expectancy of 69.1 years, a decade less than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

The gap for women was slightly lower at 9.5 years.

Between 2009 and 2013, 81 per cent of all Indigenous deaths were of people under 75. This is more than twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, which stands at 34 per cent.

The latest statistics come 10 years after the establishment of the Closing the Gap campaign, which aims to end the disparity on life expectancies.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged that the Government would better engage with Indigenous people in “hope and optimism rather than entrenched despair”.

Indigenous sobriety rate higher than non-Indigenous Australians

While smoking rates have been falling nationally, they remain high among Indigenous Australians, with 44 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 and over describing themselves as a current smoker.

The report states that 42 per cent smoke daily, 2.6 times the rate of their non-Indigenous counterparts.

However, Indigenous Australians drink less alcohol than non-Indigenous counterparts — 26 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 and over had not consumed alcohol in past 12 months.

This equates to a sobriety rate 1.6 times that of non-Indigenous Australians.

Potentially avoidable deaths — categorised as deaths that could have been avoided given timely and effective health care — accounted for 61 per cent of deaths of Indigenous Australians aged up to 74 years between 2009 to 2013.

This was 10 per cent more than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Australians are living longer than ever but with higher rates of chronic disease, the latest national report card shows.

Reports below from the Conversation

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Australia’s Health 2016 report, released today, Australian boys can now expect to live into their 80s (80.3), while the life expectancy for girls has reached the mid-80s (84.4).

A boy born and girl born in 1890 could only expect to live to 47.2 and 50.8 years respectively. AIHW

The single leading cause of death in Australia is coronary heart disease, followed by:

Grouped together, cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) as Australia’s biggest killer. Cancer is also the largest cause of illness, followed by cardiovascular disease:

Burden of disease, by disease group, Australia, 2011 AIHW

Chronic diseases are becoming more common, due to population growth and ageing. Half of Australians (more than 11 million) have at least one chronic disease. One quarter have two or more.

The most common combination of chronic diseases is arthritis with cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke):

AIHW

Australians have high rates of the biomedical risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Almost a quarter (23%) of Australian adults have high blood pressure and 63% have abnormal levels of cholesterol.


Lifestyle choices

Fron Jackson-Webb, Health + Medicine Editor, The Conversation

The good news is Australians are less likely to smoke and drink at risky levels than in the past.

Australia now has the fourth-lowest smoking rate among 34 OECD countries, at 13% in 2013. This is almost half that of 1991 (24%).

AIHW

The volume of alcohol Australians consume fell from 10.8 litres per person in 2007–08 to 9.7 litres in 2013–14. This is the lowest level since 1962–63. But 16% of Australians are still drinking to very risky levels: consuming 11 or more standard drinks on one occasion in the past 12 months.

AIHW

Around eight million Australians have tried illicit drugs in their lifetime, including 2.9 million in the last 12 months. The most commonly used illicit drugs are cannabis (10%), ecstasy (2.5%), methamphetamine (2.1%) and cocaine (2.1%).

Use of methamphetamine has remained stable in recent years. However, more methamphetamine users are opting for crystal (ice) rather than powder (speed).

The bad news is Australians are still struggling with their weight. Around 63% are overweight or obese, up from 56% in 1995. This equates to an average increase of 4.4kg for men and women. One in four children are overweight or obese.

Junk foods high in salt, fat and sugar account for around 35% of adults’ energy intake and around 39% of the energy intake for children and young people.

Most Australians (93%) don’t consume the recommended five serves of vegetables a day and only half eat the recommended two serves of fruit. Just 3% of children eat enough vegetables, though 70% consume the recommended amount of fruit.

Almost half (45%) of adults aged 18 to 64 and 23% of children aren’t meeting the national physical activity recommendations. These are for adults to accumulative 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. Children are advised to accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Lifestyle choices have a huge impact on the risk of chronic disease; an estimated 31% of the burden of disease in Australia could have been prevented by reducing risk factors such as smoking, excess weight, risky drinking, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.

Proportion of the burden attributable to the top five risk factors

AIHW

Preventing chronic disease

Rob Moodie, Professor of Public Health, University of Melbourne

This report outlines a number of positives in Australia’s health – our life expectancy, the health services at our beck and call, major declines in tobacco and road deaths. We’re doing well, it says, but we could do better.

If we took prevention and health promotion far more seriously, we could do a lot better.

The report nominates tobacco use, alcohol, high body mass and physical inactivity as the chief causes of preventable illness and the chief causes of our increasing level of chronic illnesses. Yet national investment in prevention is declining.


Further reading: Focus on prevention to control the growing health budget


Tobacco use is rapidly declining because of really effective measures (plain packaging, advertising bans and increasing price through taxes) that save lives and enormous amounts of money over a lifetime for people who used to smoke.

However, we can’t seem to make any major dent in the commercial, industrial and lifestyle diseases related to junk food and drinks, harmful consumption of alcohol and car dependency.

We’ve known what will work for many years but the power of some of these unhealthy industries is still overwhelming – a situation in which our politicians fear these industries and their associations more than they fear the voters.

Our collective health would have been much better if we’d been able to follow the guidance of our own national task forces and learnt from other countries. The report card should read, “Doing well, but could have done a lot better”.


Inequities

Fran Baum, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor and Foundation Director at the Southgate Institute for Health, Society & Equity, Flinders University

Australia’s Health 2016 shows many Australians are not getting a fair go at health. There is a gradient across society whereby the richer the area you live in, the longer you can expect to live. The difference between the highest and lowest is four years.

Deaths by socioeconomic group: 1 = lowest; 5 = highest

AIHW

The gradient is evident from early life. Children most at risk of exclusion – those from poor areas who experience problems with education, housing and connectedness – are most likely to die before they reach 15 years from potentially preventable or treatable causes.


Further reading: Want to improve the nation’s health? Start by reducing inequalities and improving living conditions


Our most glaring inequity is the ten-year life gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and others. Indigenous life expectancy is 69.1 years for males and 73.7 years for females.

Compared with the non-Indigenous population, Indigenous Australians are:

  • 3.5 times as likely to have diabetes and four times as likely to be hospitalised with it or to die from it
  • five times as likely to have end-stage kidney disease
  • twice as likely to die from an injury
  • twice as likely to have heart disease.

Australians living outside major cities have higher rates of disease and injury. They also live in environments that make healthy lifestyles choices harder (such as more difficulties buying fresh fruit and vegetables) and so their risk of chronic diseases is increased.

AIHW

The data on who has private health insurance coverage points to the emergence of a two-tiered health system, where those who can afford to pay receive better access and quality of care. Just 26% of those in the lowest socioeconomic group have cover compared to about 80% of the top group.

Coverage with private health insurance and government health-care cards

AIHW

Cost of care

Professor Stephen Duckett, Director of the Health Program at Grattan Institute

Over the last decade, health expenditure grew about 5% each year, above the 2.8% average growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As a result, health took up an increasing share of GDP.

Spending more on health means Australia spent less on other things. This is not necessarily bad, as long as the benefits from that increased expenditure – such as increasing life expectancy or increased quality of life – are worth the increased costs.

But spending above GDP growth cannot continue indefinitely. And the last few years saw an increase in rhetoric about health spending increases being “unsustainable” from so-called “futurists” and politicians.

Informed commentators have generally rejected the unsustainability claim, some labelling it a “myth”, while others take a more nuanced view.

Australia’s Health 2016 shows a slowing of the real growth rate in the most recent two years to about half that of the previous decade – 1.1% from 2011-12 to 2012-13 and 3.1% from 2012–13 to 2013–14.

Annual growth rates in health expenditure AIHW

This suggests the “unsustainability” rhetoric is at least overblown and potentially prompting budget decisions which are counter-productive, such as introducing a co-payment for general practice.

Commonwealth government expenditure was more or less stable over these most recent two years, declining 2.5% initially then increasing 2.4% in the last year.

Health expenditure by area (adjusted for inflation)

AIHW

Savings to the government came from shifting costs to consumers, by slowing the growth in government subsidies to private health insurers, and also by slowing spending on pharmaceuticals.

This latter slowdown was achieved through tighter controls on payments to drug manufacturers and because some big-selling drugs came off patent, resulting in falls in prices.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper Next AGM Edition

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health : New poll shows 76% Australians want increased funding for preventive health

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“Australians are sending a message to Government – we need more preventive measures in place so we can improve our overall health.

The majority of Australian adults are either overweight or obese and they are recognising the fact that something needs to done early on to prevent this unhealthy way of life.

A sugar tax on soft drink is a clear way to reduce obesity and should be implemented in the context of a National Nutrition Policy in order to sensibly address chronic conditions caused by obesity

 Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) CEO Michael Moore.

” Amata was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

The thing that I say in community meetings all the time is that, the reason we’re doing this is so that the young children now do not end up going down the same track of diabetes, kidney failure, dialysis machines and early death, which is the track that many, many people out here are on now,”

Mai Wiru, meaning good health, and managed by long-time community consultant John Tregenza. SEE NACCHO POST this week

The Roy Morgan Research poll conducted for Research Australia shows 76% Australians rank investment into preventive health among the top ten priorities for the Australian Government.

Download the Research Report Here

research-australia_polling-report-2016

Over 1000 people participated in the poll which suggests the Government needs to invest in preventive health programs with 83% of Australians trying to lose weight and/or improve their fitness. It also showed 90% of Australians view looking after and/or improving our health as very or extremely important.

“This data is another in the long line of evidence the Government has to invest more in prevention. Prevention is better than cure and the Australian public are tooting the same horn as public health experts. It’s time the Government listened to both,” continued Mr Moore also President of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA).

The poll also asked if Australians were willing to support a sugar tax on soft drinks. 75% would support the tax with 48% definitely supporting a tax.

“A sugar tax on soft drink is a clear way to reduce obesity and should be implemented in the context of a National Nutrition Policy in order to sensibly address chronic conditions caused by obesity. The poll showed an overwhelming majority of Australians know it is a good move to reduce obesity and improve overall health,

“Mexico, the United Kingdom and some American states have implemented a sugar tax on soft drink with great results. Australia can make a difference to the health of the population by taxing a beverage with zero nutritional benefits consumed by adults and children,” said Mr Moore.

Australia’s Health Tracker by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC), shows one in two Australians have a chronic disease yet the Government only invests 1.5% into prevention for chronic diseases.

“1000 Australians are calling on the Government to do more and improve the health of the population. This isn’t about losing votes, it’s about doing the right thing for the country and improving the overall health of the Australian people,” concluded Mr Moore.

The joint PHAA 44th Annual Conference and 20th Chronic Diseases Network Conference will be held from 18 – 21 September 2016 in Alice Springs, NT. The theme is Protection, Prevention, Promotion, Healthy Futures: Chronic Conditions and Public Health. #PHAACDN2016

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Sugar TV Doco: APY community and the Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation.

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Amata was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

The thing that I say in community meetings all the time is that, the reason we’re doing this is so that the young children now do not end up going down the same track of diabetes, kidney failure, dialysis machines and early death, which is the track that many, many people out here are on now,”

Mai Wiru, meaning good health, and managed by long-time community consultant John Tregenza.

Watch The Sugar Trip on Australian Story  Monday 5 September  at 8:00pm on ABC TV.

View HERE

In the language of the Pitjantjatjara people of Central Australia, there is an expression — “Ngapartji Ngapartji”.

It means: “What are you going to give back in return for this favour?”

Melbourne filmmaker Damon Gameau was introduced to the concept a couple of years ago while making his now acclaimed documentary That Sugar Film, which raised awareness of the hazards of any diet containing too much sugar.

He wanted to include a segment about an innovative health program initiated by Indigenous communities in the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands, where stores were stocking healthy foods and nutritionists were advising customers on the best food choices.

It was called Mai Wiru, meaning good health, and managed by long-time community consultant John Tregenza.

“He said he was making a film. I was fairly wary,” Mr Tregenza told Australian Story.

“I undertook to help Damon on the basis of Ngapartji Ngapartji … that if the film was a success he would set up a foundation to assist the people to understand the sugar message.”

At the time, the Mai Wiru project was starting to hit trouble. Government funding had been withdrawn and, while the stores were commercially viable, the community could no longer afford key elements of Mai Wiru, such as employing nutritionists.

Fast-forward 18 months and Gameau’s film had become a box office juggernaut — one of the highest-grossing Australian documentaries of all time.

True to his word, Gameau set about helping Mr Tregenza revitalise the health project.

He created the Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation and recently returned to the APY Lands with two nutritionists and an action plan, all paid for by funds generated by the new foundation.

Where it all began — meeting David Gulpilil

Gameau’s connection with Indigenous communities began nearly 15 years ago when he appeared in Rolf de Heer’s landmark film The Tracker, starring David Gulpilil.

Meeting Gulpilil was a life-changing experience according to Gameau.

“To go and spend time with him and live with his family and live off the land and hunt; I was only 23, it blew my mind. I felt the magic of that,” he said.

“But there was an element when I’d seen how much Coke people were consuming and that kind of really shocked me.”

Back then Gameau himself was no role model when it came to diet and health. He regularly ate junk food, smoked a packet of cigarettes a day and partied hard.

But in 2008, while working on the film Balibo in Timor-Leste, he met his future wife Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, who was a healthy eater.

“I knew as soon as I met her, I’m going to have to change some things in my life,” he told Australian Story.

“She’s the one, but I’ve got some work to do.”

He adopted a new diet, cutting out all processed foods and sugar. Within weeks he felt and looked healthier.

Turning his hand to directing, he won Tropfest in 2011 with an animated short film Animal Beatbox.

It gave him the impetus to look for a bigger directing project.

Sugar at that time was literally becoming “flavour of the month” in the media, so with his recent experience of improved health he embarked on an experiment using himself as a lab-rat and filmed what would become That Sugar Film.

Over 60 days, Gameau consumed 40 teaspoons of sugar a day — all hidden in processed, so-called healthy foods.

“By the end I’d developed pre-type two diabetes, I had heart disease, I had 11 centimetres of visceral fat. But the big one was, the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was almost in a full-blown state,” he said.

Although Gameau had proved that a high sugar diet was dangerous, he wanted to examine the reverse effect in his documentary — showing a community that had removed sugar from their diet.

That was when he discovered the APY Lands’ Mai Wiru project, and visited the small town of Amata some 100 kilometres from Uluru.

Amata was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

The community elders stepped in with Mai Wiru to address the problem.

Mai Wiru had prospered commercially but, by the time Gameau arrived, the government funding cuts meant the community could no longer afford a nutritionist.

High consumption of sugar was again taking its toll and the health focus of the project was waning.

Soon after That Sugar Film was released in March last year, Gameau successfully applied for it to be accepted into a new philanthropic funding initiative, Good Pitch, which had been adopted in Australia from the UK and US.

“It’s the first time it happened in Australia,” Gameau told Australian Story.

“They put you in a room with a lot of philanthropists, and people contribute to what is called an outreach campaign that really backed what we were doing.”

This support, including a financial start-up contribution of about $90,000 from philanthropists, and a percentage of the profits from his documentary, enabled Gameau to honour his promise to Mr Tregenza and the APY community by establishing the Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation.

 

     

       

Thumbs up for nutrition

Mr Tregenza chose the tiny town of Pipalyatjara for a pilot program.

Gameau and two nutritionists recently travelled to Pipalyatjara to work with the community in developing an education program on diet and sugar.

Pipalyatjara Store

A screening of That Sugar Film at the local women’s centre set the scene.

This was followed by in-store demonstrations on how to read food labels to detect “hidden” sugar, and by the installation of “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” signs on shelving to denote good and bad food options.

Cooking sessions using only healthy foods that could be sourced from the Mai Wiru store were also held for anybody who wanted to attend.

The meals were consumed with gusto.

“The thing that I say in community meetings all the time is that, the reason we’re doing this is so that the young children now do not end up going down the same track of diabetes, kidney failure, dialysis machines and early death, which is the track that many, many people out here are on now,” Mr Tregenza said.

With encouraging signs from the first stage of the pilot program, Mr Tregenza is now looking five to 10 years ahead.

Gameau and his team plan to return to Pipalyatjara before the end of the year to set up a healthy eating cafe — building infrastructure and assisting locally trained chefs to cook daily for the community.

Ngapartji Ngapartji. The favour is being repaid.

Watch The Sugar Trip on Australian Story tonight at 8:00pm on ABC TV.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health :Report : Perils of place: identifying hotspots of health inequality

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Hospitalisation rates for diabetes, tooth decay and other conditions that should be treatable or manageable out of hospital show how Australia’s health system is consistently failing some communities.

Perils of place: identifying hotspots of health inequality

Download report here : NACCHO download Perils-of-Place

Places such as Frankston and Broadmeadows in Victoria and Mount Isa and Palm Island in Queensland have had potentially preventable hospitalisation rates at least fifty percent above the state average in every year for a decade.

Place

The problem can be addressed, but only if governments come up with targeted solutions for individual places. Australia is not a uniform country and a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Local, tailored policy responses are required.

Reducing potentially preventable hospitalisations in hot spots in Victoria and Queensland — the two states the report studied – would save a total of at least $15 million a year. Indirect savings should be significantly larger.

The report introduces a method of identifying small areas where health inequalities are entrenched and, without intervention, are likely to endure.

To build up the limited evidence of what works in reducing place-based health problems, the report recommends that government combine with Primary Health Networks and local communities to run three- to five-year trials of tailored programs in selected places.

Rigorous evaluation is critical, so that the lessons from successful trials can be applied across the country.

Because persistent hotspots are rare, targeting them alone will not substantially reduce the growing burden of potentially preventable hospitalisations, but it’s an important first step.

Government and Primary Health Networks must ensure that all communities get a fair go. The government will save money and, more importantly, some of the most disadvantaged Australians will get the chance to lead healthier, more productive lives.