Tuesday, 06 Sep 2016

Life Education key to reducing burden of disease in remote NSW

Families in remote NSW are more at risk of chronic disease compared to our major cities, a new report has revealed. However, preventable strategies such as education programs could go far to reduce this burden.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s latest report1 found very remote areas in Australia experienced 1.7 times the rate of chronic disease as compared to major cities.

But a staggering 31 per cent of the burden of disease is preventable if risk factors such as diet, tobacco use, alcohol use and physical inactivity are addressed.

In response to these findings, Life Education NSW is calling for more children in remote NSW to engage with positive, preventative education programs that promote healthy eating, active lifestyle, and give young people the tools to make informed choices about their bodies.

Life Education NSW CEO Kellie Sloane says, “This research demonstrates how a large proportion of chronic diseases can be prevented through healthy diet, exercise and healthy choices.

“According to the institute’s findings, poor diet is worse than previously thought, only second to tobacco use as a major contributor to burden of disease in Australia.

“Education is the key to shaping young minds and bodies. We’re responding to the burden of preventable disease in NSW with an unprecedented roll out of new programs in 2016 that will support schools and parents.”

These new programs include a strong focus on diet and exercise for junior primary students, and a dedicated module upper primary school students about tobacco, called ‘On the Case’.

Indigenous extension resources make the content relevant to communities, as well as culturally sensitive and reflective.

Cutting edge technology, including new 3D imagery, demonstrate the human body and its systems.  And two new animated characters, Red and Boots have recently joined Life Education’s cheeky Healthy Harold the giraffe in communicating important health messages to school children.

Each year, more than quarter of a million students across NSW in 1,600 Schools access Life Education’s preschool, primary and secondary health education programs, and there is scope to reach more. The charity’s 42 Mobile Learning Centres travel to every local government area across the state.

“We’re urging remote and regional schools to sign up to our programs which include a visit from our Mobile Learning Centres, more than 10 hours of lesson plans for teachers, and parent resources. A whole of community approach is vital,” Ms Sloan said.

Schools and parents interested in knowing more about Life Education and the new health programs can visit the Life Education NSW website www.lifeeducation.org.au, telephone 1300 HAROLD or email nsw@lifeeducation.org.au

1.   AIHW 2016. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011—summary report. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 4. Cat. no. BOD 5. Canberra: AIHW.