Feedback given on the draft National Preventative Health Strategy

The Queensland Consumers Association (a member of CFA) has made a written submission on the Draft National Preventative Heath Strategy.

The draft Strategy was released recently for comment and was developed following responses to a 2020 Consultation Paper, on which CFA made a submission.

The Vision is:

To improve the health of all Australians at all stages of life, through early intervention, better information, targeting risk factors and addressing the broader causes of poor health and wellbeing.

The Aims are:

  1. Australians have the best start in life.
  2. Australians live as long as possible in good health.
  3. Health equity for target populations.
  4. Investment in prevention is increased.

The Association’s submission included:

  • Strong support for the development of the Strategy but emphasising the need to closely monitor implementation, to publicise progress and results, and to undertake periodic reviews and revisions.
  • Noting that better information is only one of many actions needed to assist consumers to be capable (i.e. have the capability) of making the many changes required to achieve many of the Strategy’s aims.
  • Noting the need for adequate public funding to ensure that community groups are able to play their part in achieving the Vision.
  • Emphasising the need for more and better consumer education (including in schools).
  • Noting the need to recognise and mention that regulation can have an important role to play in achieving some health preventive objectives.
  • Strong support for the stated need to protect actions from undue influence by any form of vested commercial interest and suggesting that the adverse effects of commercial marketing and advertising mentioned be expanded to include on services and behaviours, not just on products.
  • Recommending that consideration be given to using the word “health capability” rather than “health literacy” since capability is much more comprehensive and indicative of the policy objective than literacy.
  • Strong support for the expansion of the focus areas to include the inclusion of Protecting Mental Health.
  • Welcoming the recognition of the importance of reducing overweight and obesity levels.
  • Noting that one of the Policy achievements by 2030 is “promotion of the NHMRC alcohol guidelines” and emphasising that to obtain high levels of consumer use of the guidelines consumers need to be aware of, understand, and able to apply the concept of the Standard Drink (SD).
  • Recommending that the targets for achievements by 2030 for Reducing alcohol and other drug harm should include:
    • Major improvements in the quality of the mandatory information (especially in the quality and consistency of display) on total SD’s in packaged alcoholic beverages.
    • Requiring the provision of the the SD content of a typical serve of an alcoholic drink.
    • Increased expenditure on effective consumer education on what SDs are and how information about them can be used to reduce alcohol related harms.
  • Recommending that the targets for achievements by 2030 for Improving access to, and the consumption of, a healthy diet should include:
  • Mandatory provision of energy content information for alcoholic beverages because alcoholic beverages account for a significant proportion of the energy consumption of many consumers yet providers are not required to provide any information about energy content.

It is anticipated that the final Strategy will be launched in mid-2021.

Ian Jarratt, Queensland Consumers Association