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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1931
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Senator Tate —On 27 November 1986 (Hansard, page 2883) Senator Crowley asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health a question without notice relating to the advertising industry's portrayal of women, with particular reference to how media images of women may contribute to illnesses such as anorexia nervosa. Senator Grimes undertook to refer the matters raised by Senator Crowley to the Minister for Health for further information regarding the Government's action on those matters. The Minister for Health has provided the following information:

The status of women is a priority of the Government, and action is being taken to address the needs and concerns raised during the consultations on the National Agenda for Women. In that context, the Office of the Status of Women-in conjunction with the Secretaries Task Force on the Status of Women-is considering the matter of media portrayal of women in advertising. The Office is considering the possibility of research into this matter, and is looking into revising the new edition of `Fair Exposure' to take account of the concerns that have been expressed regarding media portrayal of women.

On the specific matter of anorexia nervosa, this is a complex psychiatric and physical illness that needs to be distinguished from the more widespread chronic dieting practices adopted by some young girls. It is these latter practices that appear to be related to media portrayals of women.

Medical management of anorexia nervosa is difficult and long-term, and is primarily undertaken in special units. There is some debate at present about whether there has, in fact, been an increase in the incidence of this illness. In any event, however, there is no need for the Commonwealth to take any action in regard to the illness because adequate arrangements are already in place to treat it.

Nevertheless, the Department of Health will keep the situation under general review and ensure that health promotion campaigns for which it is responsible do not add to the problem by over-emphasis upon excessive slimness as a norm.

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Senator Walsh —On 18 March 1987 (Hansard, page 887) Senator Watson asked me a question without notice in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry in the Senate. His question concerned the cost of a series of pamphlets recently circulated in the New South Wales Farmers Journal detailing the Government's rural policy initiatives. The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Rural Policy Action Series consists of 40,000 of each of an initial series of nine pamphlets. Five titles have so far been produced and distributed, with 23,000 of each being inserted in the NSW Farmers Journal, under an agreement between that body and my Department. Three more titles are in production.

The cost for each title has been some $10,000 which includes design and typesetting, editing and printing.

The material was written by officers of this Department in consultation with interested parties.

The total cost of the series thus far for 200,000 pamphlets is $50,000, and represents a unit cost of 25c. Of the 200,000, 158,285 copies have been distributed. Seven thousand of No. 2 were reprinted at a cost of $2,000.

The practice of advertising the Government's rural policies is a cost-effective way of advising the rural community of programs of which it may be unaware, and of informing rural Australians generally. Rural Australians suffer disadvantages that do not face other Australians: disadvantages of distance from centres of government and services, and the kinds of communication problems that Aussat is designed to remedy. This series therefore fills a gap and has been recognised as doing so by rural organisations and State bodies, which have offered favourable comment and requested further copies.

No. 2, on the Rural Adjustment Scheme, had in fact to go into reprint (7,000 copies) to meet the demand from farmers.

The NSW Farmers Association felt the series sufficiently important to offer its services in distributing copies to its members (who comprise a third of Australian farmers).

I would therefore see these measures as entirely appropriate, and would imagine that, if new initiatives arise in the Budget or elsewhere, they will be conveyed to the rural sector in cost-effective and informative ways such as this pamphlet series.

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