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Health promotion

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The Minister for Health, Mr Ralph Hun t , today

gave further details of the new initiative in health promotion

which he announced in Parliament last night.

The initiative, for which the Government will

provide $500 000 in 1979-80, is designed to develop .and test a

program aimed at improving the general level of health in Aust-

rail a'. .

It will seek to persuade all Australians to

adopt healthier lifestyles and to see their health as a valuable

asset for which they themselves are largely responsible,

Mr Hunt said today he regarded this 'better-

health* program as the most significant development in Australia

in health care in recent years, .

It a l s o .provided further evidence of the Federal

Government's concern for the health and physical fitness of the

nation, which was highlighted last week by the Prime Minister's

announcement of the Sir Robert Menzies' Foundation for Health,

Fitness and Physical Achievement,

'During my period of office as Minister for

Health, I have become more and more convinced that continued, con­

centration on traditional curative medicine, with its associated

high costs both for the Government and the individual, can add

little to improving the nation's health status,* he said,

^ Ί believe this can be achieved only by motivating

individuals to take a responsible attitude for their own personal

health care,*

. Mr Hunt said the Government's decision to launch

the program followed a careful examination by the Health Department

of overseas and Australian trends and experience in health pro­


A number of innovative projects had already been

launched in Australia, with heartening results.


- Last year, for instance, the first national health

educators1 conference was held in Canberra, producing an informat­

ive report entitled Teach Health. -

• A major pilot project aimed at changing lifestyles

was currently in operation in the North Coast region of New South


The well-known Life. Be In It campaign, with its '

emphasis on physical activity, was another example of successful

health promotion, the Minister said. .

•During my recent visit overseas, I was struck by

the wrorld-wide interest in health promotion programs, * Mr Hunt said.

. 1I was particularly impressed by the Canadian Life­

style Program, which promotes health as an enjoyable concept.

•Our program will be a: broad national thrust seeking

to involve the entire country. ♦

‘I am hopeful that it will motivate health practit­

ioners, hospitals, managements, unions, educational authorities

and community groups to actively participate in the program and

spread the message of individual responsibility and self-help.

• The message itself is quite simple — "You can help

yourself to health by personal knoivledge, by personal decision and

personal effort — and you can help others by spreading this view."

•We can provide and advertise the knowledge, but it

will be up to every individual to make his decision and act on it.·

Mr Hunt said he expected to shortly release two

documents on the subject of health promotion, which would be of

value in planning the program. They are;

o Promoting Health - Prospects for better health

throughout the nation, by Dr T.C. Beard, a

senior medical officer in the Health Department;

• and

. e Health promotion in Australia 1978-79 - A report,

prepared by the School of Public Health and

Tropical Medicine following a series of seminars

conducted in each State which involved leading

health educators and professionals.




Mr Hunt' said the basic steps to good health were

already well-known to people who cared about their personal health.

> ’They include, for example, eating and exercising

moderately, taking adequate and regular sleep without drugs, main­

taining normal weight, and avoiding excessive stress and tension,1

he said»

'There are known risks to avoid, of which smoking

and the excessive intake of alcohol and sweets are the best ex­


'And of course my Department has for a long time

preached the gospel of good nutrition with its promotion of the

basic five food groups.

'The new initiative will seek to impress on indiv­

iduals that observance of these important rules will add enormously

to their enjoyment of life, work and recreation.'

Mr.Hunt said the program would be heavily dependent

on community involvement and support, and his Department would be

interested in hearing from any organisation or individual who might

wish to put forward suggestions for consideration within the program;

Any such suggestions would be considered during

the development stage of the program during.the next six months.

CANBERRA, 25 May 1979