News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

Stoush over Labor cancer plan funding

Canberra Times, 15 April 2019: Labor has attempted to hose down the coalition’s claim there’s a $6 billion shortfall in its promise to improve Medicare’s coverage of cancer services.

Resilient health systems: preparing for climate disasters and other emergencies

MJA online, 15 April 2019: After another Australian summer of record‐breaking temperatures, bushfires, floods and widespread drought, it is clear that our health systems should be strengthened to cope with the challenges of climate change.

Shorten promises surgery wait list cut

Canberra Times, 15 April 2019: Patients waiting for urgent elective surgery will go under the knife faster if Labor wins the federal election.

NSW rural communities feeling ‘forgotten’ by healthcare system

ABC online, 14 April 2019: Babies born in regional NSW will die about two years earlier than their city counterparts, have a lower chance of surviving cancer and are more likely to suicide, according to research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

How much does it cost to have cancer?

SMH, 14 April 2019: Out-of-pocket costs are brutal sucker punches for cancer patients. Where do the costs come from? How steep are they? And how are the Coalition and Labor aiming to help reduce “bill shock”?

Eating these foods affects health more than avoiding junk food

Fairfax Media, 10 April 2019: Eating healthy foods may be more important than not eating junk foods according to new research which has, for the first time, calculated the global effect of poor diet on our health.

Exclusive: Partnering with alcohol industry on public health is not okay, WHO says

The BMJ, 9 April 2019: The World Health Organization will not engage with the alcohol industry when developing alcohol policy or implementing public health measures, its staff have been told, and any government seeking advice from a collaboration with industry should be warned of the dangers.

The Coalition’s report card on health includes some passes and quite a few fails

The Conversation, April 9 2019: The Turnbull/Morrison government has a mixed record, at best, on health, writes Stephen Duckett.

No cheers for Instagram’s ‘alcohol influencers’

The New Daily, 9 April 2019: Popular digital influencers making grog look cool online should come clean about the companies paying them, according to health experts.

Vaping, e-cigarettes, and big tobacco

ABC (audio), 9 April 2019: It’s estimated smoking kills almost 19,000 Australians each year. E-cigarettes and vaping are often touted as a way to help bring that number down — but are they risk-free?

Preventative care to cure health spend woes

The Mandarin, 8 April 2019: Australia spends about $2 billion (1.3%) of its national health budget of $170 billion on preventative health programs. While precise comparative data is difficult to find, public researchers have identified that Australia under invests in preventative health compared to its OECD peers.

Decline in physical activity often starts as early as age 7

ScienceDaily, 8 April 2019: Overall physical activity starts to decline already around the age of school entry. While the proportion of physically inactive individuals rises with age there still are groups of people who manage to increase their physical activity level in adulthood and old age.

How social media is helping Big Tobacco hook a new generation of smokers

Salon, 7 April 2019: Big Tobacco is increasingly using social media to find new ways to hook young people on smoking, circumventing decades of laws restricting the marketing of traditional cigarettes to minors.

How Bad Are E-Cigarettes? FDA Investigates If They’re Causing Seizures

Healthline, 7 April 2019: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers of a potential link between e-cigarettes and seizures.

Health advice says we should exercise, sleep more and eat better. But it’s not an option for all of us

ABC, 5 April 2019: And even though it might be based on the best possible science and medical advice, for some Australians, [health] guidance can actually be unhelpful — or just plain unrealistic.

Budget boosts aged care, mental health and modernises Medicare

The Conversation, 2 April 2019: Stephen Duckett, Ian Hickie and other health experts respond to this year’s Budget announcements for healthcare.

‘Australian first’ program trains Indigenous communities to take action on suicide

NITV News, 27 March 2019: An Indigenous-led program, believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, is equipping First Nations communities with the tools to intervene if a loved one is contemplating suicide. Of more than a hundred people who have done the training, all have used it at least once.

Patchy report card for states on obesity prevention efforts

ABC, 2 April 2019: Public health experts have assessed states’ and territories’ obesity prevention efforts and have found progress is mixed. They’re hoping their recommendations help fuel more comprehensive progress to tackling Australia’s obesity problem, with a National Obesity Strategy now under development.

National health survey: obesity, chronic conditions rise

The Mandarin, 28 March 2019: Obesity, chronic conditions and mental health are all trending worse, but smoking rates and alcohol consumption continue to improve, according to the survey of over 21,000 Australians.

‘That was the most heartbreaking part’: Australia’s obesity epidemic out of control

Fairfax Media, 27 March 2019: Australia’s obesity epidemic is accelerating at an alarming rate, with almost one million more people becoming obese in the past three years alone, a major report warns.

Closing the Gap: Indigenous groups to share decision-making under new agreement

The Mandarin, 27 March 2019: A partnership agreement between a coalition of Indigenous peak bodies and state and federal governments will, for the first time, give Indigenous groups a direct say in the design, implementation and monitoring of Closing the Gap.

How social media is helping Big Tobacco hook a new generation of smokers

The Conversation, 27 March 2019: Big Tobacco is increasingly using social media to find new ways to hook young people on smoking, circumventing decades of laws restricting the marketing of traditional cigarettes to minors.

More than one in four Aussie kids are overweight or obese: we’re failing them, and we need a plan

Croakey, 26 March 2019: Alessandro Demaio addressed the National Press Club, alongside Karen Carey (former chair of the Consumers Health Forum) and Stephen Duckett (head of the Health Program at the Grattan Institute), to outline the key health issues ahead of the 2019 federal election.

Federal Budget 2019/20 – Preventive health priorities from the health sector

Croakey, 26 March 2019: Prevention is high on the agenda for many health stakeholder groups in their bids for funding in this year’s Federal Budget.  There is a shared view expressed in the submissions that Australia is falling behind in our approach to prevention and needs to increase both funding and policy efforts in this area.

The cost of defending plain packaging laws less than previously reported

Croakey, 26 March 2019: Previous public disclosures had indicated that Australia spent A$39 million in defending its tobacco plain packaging laws against various legal challenges. However, via an FOI request the IA Reporter obtained un-redacted costings which showed that the net cost to Australia was around $A12 million.

Health groups push for food ratings to be mandatory

Fairfax Media, 24 March 2018: Consumer and public health groups are renewing their push to make the government’s Health Star Ratings mandatory to boost public confidence in the labelling system, but the food industry would strongly resist such a change.

Breastfeeding helps to protect mums’ hearts, new study finds

Fairfax Media, 20 March 2019: New research using data from the 45 and Up Study shows that childbearing women who breastfed their babies are significantly less likely to develop or die from heart disease in later life than those who didn’t.

South Australian taxpayers to foot the bill for $2m in prison nicotine patches and lozenges

ABC 20 March 2019: Taxpayers will pay more than $2 million for nicotine substitutes for South Australian prisoners over the next four years, as the state moves to make its jails smoke-free.

The small-town doctor taking on the billionaire family blamed for America’s opioid crisis

ABC, 19 March 2019: Art Van Zee was there at the beginning of America’s 20-year-old opioid crisis. Now, the town’s humble community medical centre has become an unlikely rallying point for an enormous class action against Purdue Pharmaceutical, OxyContin’s manufacturer.

Leaders urged to declare Aboriginal child suicides a ‘national crisis’

Fairfax Media, 19 March 2019: Prime Minister Scott Morrison must declare Indigenous child suicides a national emergency and overhaul current strategies, peak medical and health bodies have demanded.

Two million Aussies delay or don’t go to the dentist – here’s how we can fix that

The Conversation, 18 March 2019: The start-stop nature of dental policy has to change. What’s required is a long-term vision to reunite the mouth with the rest of the body, writes the Grattan Institute’s Stephen Duckett.

‘An inequitable, ramshackle scheme’: Experts say dental should be on Medicare

ABC, 18 March 2019: Australians’ oral health should be prioritised at the next federal election, say health experts, who are calling for significant reform to Australia’s dental scheme.

How diet became the latest front in the culture wars

The Guardian, 17 March 2019: The latest study warning us to eat less meat has brought angry sceptics out in droves. But who should we believe?

More overweight Australians are also malnourished, 16 March 2019: Our diet has become so poor that the two in three Australians who are overweight are now malnourished… The nutrition problem is so extreme in some indigenous communities one in five children suffer from stunted growth and physical wasting on a scale that is worse than that in West Africa, says leading nutrition expert Queensland University’s Professor Amanda Lee.

Calls For National Nutrition Strategy

Ten Eyewitness News, 16 March 2019: The Heart Foundation is calling on the Federal Government to implement a National Nutrition Strategy.

Study reveals how motivation affects nutrition and diet

Medical Xpress 16 March 2019: New research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests that people with a positive attitude are more likely to eat healthily. The study examined the motivational role of a theory called regulatory focus on consumers’ involvement in nutrition, that is, the time and effort they put in to finding out about nutrition and seeking out nutritious food.

I ran a police force and I’m not soft on drugs. This is why I’m backing a pill testing trial

ABC, 15 March 2019: I am not, and never have been, an advocate for drug use. The issue is clearly complex, but in order to improve it we must be prepared to deal with the reality of the world in which we are living, writes former AFP chief Michael Palmer.

Greater use of drug and alcohol treatment services in regional and remote areas, and many people travel over an hour to receive them

AIHW, 15 March 2019: People who live in regional or remote areas use drug and alcohol treatment services at a higher rate than those in major cities—and  they generally travel  for longer to do so, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Squinting smokers: Price boards shrunk under tough new tobacco laws

WA Today, 15 March 2019: Smokers will need to make sure their glasses are clean by Monday as a raft of new regulations come into force including changes to the allowable size of cigarette and tobacco price boards to no larger than an A4 sheet of paper.

Vaping is an urgent threat to public health

The Conversation, 14 March 2019: If unchecked by strict regulations, the next generation of youth is likely to be the most nicotine-dependent and the heaviest smoking in recent history, wiping out decades of efforts to protect them.

‘It’s easy to go and buy 100 party pies for $20 and feed your children’

Fairfax Media, 13 March 2019: Rising cost of living pressures may push parents towards party pies rather than healthy options for their children’s meals, says Queensland backbencher and Labor member for Maryborough, Bruce Saunders.

Alcohol prohibition reducing family violence in remote communities

ABC, 12 March 2019: Now there is research to back claims that alcohol laws can help reduce family violence. And one Indigenous scholar is calling for governments around the country to support prohibition.

The relationship between weight and self control

Fairfax Media, 12 March 2019: It is a sad reality that people who are overweight or obese are often stigmatised as having a simple lack of self control. A new review, published in Cell, exploring the link between our weight and self control shows that the relationship is far more complex.

Is moderate drinking good for you?

ABC, 11 March 2019: We used to think moderate drinking was good for health. Now, new evidence has called that into question.

Access to e-cigarettes will improve Australia’s health

University of Melbourne, Pursuit, 11 March 2019: For existing smokers, swapping tobacco cigarettes for e-cigarettes with nicotine will improve their health. But the shift could also mean a net health gain for Australia, if it weren’t illegal.

Smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity each linked to unhealthy brains

Science Daily, 11 March 2019: Factors that influence the health of our blood vessels, such as smoking, high blood and pulse pressures, obesity and diabetes, are linked to less healthy brains. The strongest links are with areas of the brain known to be responsible for our more complex thinking skills, and which deteriorate during the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The medical condition killing more women than breast cancer

Fairfax Media, 7 March 2019: Strokes kill more Australian women every year than breast cancer, but health authorities are fighting against a public perception that it is a condition that mostly affects older men.

Are you at risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes? It depends on where you live

The Conversation, 6 March 2019: Since 2014, more Australian women have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes than in previous years and compared to women in other countries. But it’s not because they’re less healthy – it’s because the threshold for diagnosis has changed.

The ‘staggering’ amount of salt in Australian kids’ fast food meals

Fairfax Media, 5 March 2019: Salt levels in Australian fast food meals are as much as double those in the UK, a new report by The George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and the Heart Foundation has found.

‘No safe level’: what we’re getting wrong with alcohol guidelines

Fairfax Media, 5 March 2019: The aphorism that red wine has heart health benefits is now believed by many experts to be somewhat mythical.

Tobacco giants say getting rid of packaging pictures of diseased organs will cost them millions after Brexit

The Independent, 4 March 2019: Tobacco giants say changes to packaging in a no-deal Brexit will cost the industry millions and boost black market sales. If the UK crashes out without a deal on 29 March it will immediately lose copyright for a European Commission-owned library of images showing cancers, vascular disease and other smoking harms that currently adorn packets.

Big Tobacco Loses Appeal in $13 Billion Quebec Cases

Bloomberg, 2 March 2019: The Canadian units of British American Tobacco Plc, Philip Morris International Inc. and Japan Tobacco Inc. were ordered to pay damages of about C$17 billion ($12.8 billion) after losing an appeal of class-action lawsuits filed by smokers in the Canadian province of Quebec.

Type 2 diabetes is killing our people – and its victims are getting younger

The Guardian, 28 February 2019: If Aboriginal people are ever going to improve their health, then it must be in Aboriginal hands.

Dozens more ‘action teams’ to tackle drug and alcohol issues

newsGP, 28 February 2019: More than 70 local drug action teams will be deployed in an attempt to address the harms caused by drug and alcohol misuse.

Ministers announce $160 million funding for Indigenous health research over 10 years targeting three flagship priorities and five key areas

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News, 27 February: The Federal Government will provide $160 million for a national research initiative to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Indigenous Health Research Fund will be a 10-year research program funded from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). It will support practical, innovative research into the best approaches to prevention, early intervention, and treatment of health conditions of greatest concern to Indigenous communities.

Health sector joins the push for regulatory crackdown on Facebook et al

Croakey, 27 February 2019: An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into digital platforms is an opportunity to tackle significant public health concerns, according to a review of some key submissions.

Obesity and the ‘self-control’ brain area: What is the link?

Medical News Today, 27 February 2019: New research suggests that there is a “reciprocal relationship” between obesity and the brain’s prefrontal cortex — an area scientists associate with self-control, among other functions.

Baseball bans alcohol sponsorship, other sports urged to do likewise

Fairfax Media, 26 February 2019: The NRL and other major codes have been urged to follow the lead of Baseball Australia after it became the first national sporting organisation to ban alcohol sponsorship.

Society decided to make us fat, says Queensland’s Health Minister

Brisbane Times, 28 February 2019: Society is to blame for making Queenslanders fat, Health Minister Steven Miles says. Introducing a bill to create a new health promotion agency on Thursday, Mr Miles said it was convenient to blame individuals for their weight.