Prevention Is the Best Medicine – Labor’s Preventative Health Strategy
Creating a Healthy Tasmania
From 2018, Labor will implement a long term strategy aimed at easing the burden on our hospitals and other health services and improving the long-term health of all Tasmanians.
Our hospitals are under siege from the Liberal Government’s cuts. Labor will ease the pressure on our hospitals by investing in early intervention and preventative health.
Our strategy is about reinvesting into frontline early intervention and preventative health services to create a healthy Tasmania.
A Healthy Boost for Tasmanian Children
Labor will lift vaccination and immunisation rates in Tasmania.
Immunisation coverage rates for Tasmanian children aged between 24 and 27 months decreases to 89.7%, compared to the national average of 90.1%.
Labor will make the protection of children from disease – and protection for staff who care for children – a priority.
A Labor Government will achieve that priority by legislating to build a path toward lifting Tasmania’s immunisation rates above 95% with the ultimate aim of achieving a 100% coverage among Tasmanian children.
Under Labor’s plan, child care centres and primary schools will be given the authority to refuse enrolment to families and children who are not fully immunised by amending the Public Health Act.
Active Kids for Active Communities
By joining in a sporting club, young Tasmanians and their families have a chance to engage with positive role models, establish new friendships and become actively involved in their communities. However, Labor understands that all too often, the cost of membership fees and new equipment prevents some children from participating.
That is why, in our first year of Government, Labor will direct the Communities, Sport and Recreation
Tasmania Division to establish a 12 month ‘Active Kids – Active Communities’ pilot program.
Invest in Six New Child and Family Centres
A Labor Government will build six new Child and Family Centres in its first term.
Child and Family Centres have transformed the lives of children and their families by giving them better access to learning, health services and support.
Child Health and Parenting Services
Child Health and Parenting Services (CHaPS) nurses play a critical role in looking after the health of the children and families in Tasmania. At Child Health Centres around the State they provide key child health and development checks at the following recommended ages: 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 4-6 months, 12 months, 2 years as well as Healthy Kids Checks.
They support not just children’s health but the health and wellbeing of families, offering parents information on a wide range of topics including: immunisation, child health and development, practical parenting tips, nutrition, breastfeeding, sleep and settling, communication, play and safety, nutrition, oral health, post natal depression, fathering, balancing work and family life, play, injury prevention and SIDS.
That is why Labor is committed to ensuring that all current CHaPS nurses positions are filled to ensure an ongoing service is available for children and families in their communities, and critical early checks can be performed. To help us attract and retain staff, Labor will employ CHaPS nurses within the Tasmanian Health Service, rather than the Department of Health and Human Services so their conditions are equivalent with other nursing staff.
Closing the Loophole for Electronic Cigarettes
Labor will close the loophole that allows the sale of e-cigarettes to children.
In Government in 2018 Labor will immediately introduce amendments to the Public Health Act 1997 to regulate the sale and use of electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes, e-cigars or vape pens).
Evidence from overseas tells us that e-cigarettes are being aggressively marketed to young people and that many teenagers have tried, or regularly use, e-cigarettes. There is considerable risk that e-cigarettes normalise smoking behaviour and will lead to younger Tasmanians taking up tobacco products.
Reduce Access to Sugar Drinks
It is a priority for Labor to prevent children becoming overweight so that they don’t face the lifetime of health risks associated with obesity.
In Government Labor will phase out the sale of soft drinks in public school canteens and the provision of soft drink in vending machines in schools. We will work with school canteen managers as well as existing programs such as Move Well Eat Well and the School Canteen Association to ensure this policy can be successfully implemented.
Enhancing the Mental Health of Young People
There is growing understanding that young people need support to manage their health and wellbeing, especially their mental health.
Recent data shows that young people aged 16-24 have the highest occurrence of mental illness compared to any other age bracket.
That is why Tasmanian Labor is committed to introducing compulsory age appropriate social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in schools, starting in primary school.
In order to improve the health of our community it is important that we understand why certain health outcomes in Tasmania are poorer than the national average.
Without evidence to drive improvements we cannot expect to see changes that will support people to stay healthy.
That is why Labor will amend the HealthStats which are released quarterly, to include preventable illness, including communicable diseases, tobacco, drug and alcohol related diseases, avoidable deaths, avoidable hospitalisations and early detection of diseases.
Inequalities in health and wellbeing are often determined by factors external to the health system. These factors include things such as housing, education, transport, infrastructure, the arts and planning.
A greater degree of collaboration is required across government agencies, with communities and across the health sector, to help coordinate a statewide preventative health strategy.
A Health in All Policies approach focuses on the social determinants of health and requires government leadership; including policies, intervention and actions beyond the health sector.
Labor will direct the Department of Premier and Cabinet to act as the lead agency to adopt a Health in All Policies approach to improve the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians.