The MAV joined ALGA to represent councils at the Melbourne hearing of the Senate Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic in Australia.
ALGA acknowledged the seriousness of the obesity epidemic, especially for children, and recognised that a response has to be multifaceted and long term.
ALGA identified that local government’s role in preventing obesity is primarily in the preventative and community health area. We know from research that the characteristics of the communities in which people live can have a significant impact on their health outcomes – for example opportunities to walk, cycle and for the case of children – play and having shops with healthy food options close by.
Over the past 10 years there have been various specific programs both from state and federal governments that have assisted local governments with preventative health measures. There have been very positive evaluations of these programs with better health outcomes for people and ultimately savings to federal and state health budgets.
ALGA called for a new financial support package of $100 million over four years to invest in a Local Government Place Based Preventative Health Fund. This fund would utilise local government’s capacity and resources aimed at improving health outcomes, for example through healthier eating, increased physical activity for children, and programs delivered with sport and recreation facilities and community groups.
Analysis undertaken on behalf of ALGA indicates this investment would have a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit by year three of $292 million and create up to 1600 new jobs.
The MAV’s response focused on the sector’s role in health and wellbeing planning, with its presentation noting that councils have the community reach and capacity but need to be well-resourced and supported to scale-up and optimise ongoing work.
ALGA’s presentation at the inquiry is part of our advocacy on behalf of local government in the lead up to the next federal election. More information about ALGA’s federal election campaign and advocacy is available on www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au
ALGA’s submission to the inquiry is available on the ALGA website.
The Committee is due to report by 26 November.