NACCHO Aboriginal Health @IndigenousPHAA #Prevention : Download @_PHAA_ Report : Saving lives a million at a time: Australia’s #top10publichealth successes over the last 20 years

As we edge closer to the federal election, it’s critical our parties consider what public health successes we must achieve next, and how they can lead on issues such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, obesity, nutrition, environmental and ecological issues such as climate change, and advancing health equity.”

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin

Today the Public Health Association Australia (PHAA) launched its new report, the Top 10 Public Health Successes Over the Last 20 Years at Australian Parliament House.

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin stated, “Public health initiatives have prevented an extraordinary amount of ill health and death in our communities – there is a saying in our field that nurses and doctors save lives, and public health professionals also save lives – they just do so a million at a time.”

The report has been compiled by Australia’s leading public health experts, and the top ten achievements are presented in no particular order as they are all considered to have been of equal importance to Australian public health.

The top ten public health successes include:

  • Folate: reduced neural tube defects
  • Immunisation and eliminating infectious disease
  • Containing the spread of HPV and its related cancers
  • Oral health: reduced dental decay
  • Reduced incidence of skin cancer
  • Tobacco control: reduced deaths caused by smoking
  • Reduced the road death and injury toll
  • Gun control: reduced gun deaths in Australia
  • Contained the spread of HIV
  • Prevented deaths from bowel and breast cancer

Download the PHAA report HERE 

PHAA Top 10 Public Health Successes_FINAL

“This report paints a clear picture of exactly which programs and initiatives have had the greatest impact – from cancer screening to vaccines, from road safety to tobacco control. These have all saved thousands of lives and protected the health of millions of Australians.”

“Public health is about preventing or minimising harm – it is always better than cure. We aim to intervene before illness, death or injury occurs, creating safe and healthy environments for all Australians. This is why in public health, we’re for birthdays,” Mr Slevin said.

“We aspire to give Australians more birthdays (five more for each person is our starting goal) and other important celebrations – weddings, births, graduations – all of the significant milestones we value in life. Perhaps most importantly, we want Australians to be healthy enough to really enjoy these extra years and milestones,” Mr Slevin said.

“So the next question we ask is, who will be the policy leaders and decision makers to help us achieve this aspiration? The report acknowledges key decision makers at the federal, state and territory government levels who were instrumental in making the top ten public health successes happen.”

“As we edge closer to the federal election, it’s critical our parties consider what public health successes we must achieve next, and how they can lead on issues such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, obesity, nutrition, environmental and ecological issues such as climate change, and advancing health equity.”

The UK has just released a new preventive health vision statement proving that western conservative governments can prioritise prevention. This is key not just because it is the most effective form of public health practice, but also the most economically sound.

“Preventive public health measures are often cheap to implement and more than pay for themselves through reduced health care costs and increased productivity through keeping people out of hospitals.”

“Public health investment in Australia currently amounts to less than 2% of the national health budget, and has been generally declining since at least 2001. It is essential we allocate adequate resources to public health programs and initiatives to build a healthier population, stem the tide of chronic disease that is enveloping the nation, and reduce future health expenditure,” Mr Slevin said.

“We owe it to ourselves and to our children to look back in twenty years’ time and say we did all we could.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #Nutrition #Obesity : @IndigenousPHAA The #AFL ladder of sponsorships such as soft drinks @CocaColaAU and junk food @McDonalds_AU endangers the health of our children

 “Aboriginal and Non- Aboriginal kids are being inundated with the advertising of alcohol, junk food and gambling through AFL sponsorship deals according to a new study.

With obesity and excessive drinking remaining a significant problem in our communities, it’s time for the AFL ladder of unhealthy sponsorship (see below) to end,

Children under the age of eight are particularly vulnerable to advertising because they lack the maturity and mental skills to evaluate the messages. Therefore, in the case of the AFL, they begin to associate unhealthy products with their favourite sport and players

We need to ask ourselves why Australia’s most popular winter sport is serving as a major advertising platform for soft drink, beer, wine, burgers and meat pies. It’s sending the wrong message to Australians that somehow these unhealthy foods and drinks are linked to the healthy activity of sport,”

Says the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

Read all NACCHO Aboriginal Health Nutrition / Obestity articles over 6 years HERE 

In the study published this week in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Australian researchers looked at the prevalence of sponsorship by alcohol, junk food and gambling companies on AFL club websites and on AFL player uniforms.

The findings were used to make an ‘AFL Sponsorship Ladder’, a ranking of AFL clubs in terms of their level of unhealthy sponsorships, with those at the top of the ladder having the highest level of unhealthy sponsors.

The study clearly demonstrated that Australia’s most popular spectator sport is saturated with unhealthy advertising.

Download PDF Copy of report NACCHO Unhealthy sponsors of sport

Ainslie Sartori, one of the authors involved in the research confirmed, “After reviewing the sponsorship deals of AFL clubs, we found that 88% of clubs are sponsored by unhealthy food and beverage companies. A third of AFL clubs are also involved in business partnerships with gambling companies.”


Sponsorship offers companies an avenue to expose children and young people to their brand, encouraging a connection with that brand.

The AFL could reinforce healthy lifestyle choices by shifting the focus away from the visual presence of unhealthy sponsorship, while taking steps to ensure that clubs remain commercially viable.

Policy makers are encouraged to consider innovative health promotion strategies and work
with sporting clubs and codes to ensure healthy messages are prominent


The study noted that children are often the targets of AFL advertising. This is despite World Health Organization recommendations that children’s settings should be free of unhealthy food promotions and branding (including through sport) due to the known risk it poses to their diet and chances of developing obesity.

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin commented, “When Australian kids see their sports heroes wearing a uniform plastered with certain brands, they inevitably start to associate these brands with the player they look up to and with the positive and healthy experience of the sport.”

He added, “The AFL is in a unique position to positively influence the health of Australian kids through banning sponsorship by alcohol, junk food and gambling companies. It could instead reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle for them.”

“Australian health policy makers need to consider innovative health promotion strategies and work together with sport clubs and codes to ensure that unhealthy advertising is not a feature. We successfully removed tobacco advertising from sport and we can do it with junk food and gambling too,” Mr Slevin said.

The recently released Sport 2030 plan rightly identifies sport as a positive vehicle to promote good health. But elite “corporate sport” plays a role of bypassing restrictions aimed at reducing exposure of children to unhealthy product marketing.

“The evidence is clear – it’s time for Australia to phase out all unhealthy sponsorship of sport,” Mr Slevin conclude