POLICY NEWS – JUNE 2017
This month’s Policy News has a focus on social media, preventive health and climate change.
MBS Taskforce consultation
The MBS Taskforce is seeking comments on after-hours MBS items.
Consultations close 21 July.
You can access the online survey here: http://www.mbsreview.com.au/after-hours.html
Sensis Social Media Report 2017
For those with an interest in social media, this report makes great reading.
Some highlights include:
- 84% of Australians use the internet daily
- 56% of Australians use the internet 5 or more times a day
- Most used social network sites are Facebook (94%) followed a long way back by Instagram (46%) with Twitter at 32% and LinkedIn at 18%.
- 71% do their networking in the evening with 47% first thing in the morning.
- And mostly in the lounge room (84%) and the bedroom (59%).
- Other popular locations include on public transport (43%),the car (37%) and at restaurants (33%).
- 79% of internet users have a Facebook profile and it is the most popular medium among social media users.
- The average number of friends, contacts or followers for those using any of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Google+ or Instagram is 469.
- Smartphone penetration is at 81%, well ahead of laptops at 59% and tablets (45%). And more than 90% of those under 50 yrs access social media via their smartphones.
- The main reasons social media users use social media is: catching up with family and friends (89%), sharing photos or videos (57%) and watching videos (43%).
- The main barrier to social media usage is lack of interest.
- The average number of times people access their Facebook account per week has fallen from 32 to 25 and the average number of Facebook friends is now 234 (down from 272 in 2016).
So there you have it! All that latest stats on social media usage.
For more, find the report here: https://www.sensis.com.au/
#StatusOfMind – the effects of social media on young people
A report entitled #StatusOfMind reported the results of a survey in the UK that looked at the positive and negative effects of social media on young people.
The survey asked 1,500 youths to rate each platform on a set of 14 health and well-being related issues as follows:
- Awareness and understanding of other people’s health experiences
- Access to expert health information you know you can trust
- Emotional support (empathy and compassion from family and friends)
- Anxiety (feelings of worry, nervousness or unease)
- Depression (feeling extremely low and unhappy)
- Loneliness (feelings of being all on your own)
- Sleep (quality and amount of sleep)
- Self-expression (the expression of your feelings, thoughts or ideas)
- Self-identity (ability to define who you are)
- Body image (how you feel about how you look)
- Real world relationships (maintaining relationships with other people)
- Community building (feeling part of a community of like-minded people)
- Bullying (threatening or abusive behaviour towards you)
- FoMO (Fear Of Missing Out – feeling you need to stay connected because you are worried things could be happening without you)
The platforms came out as follows:
- YouTube (most positive)
- Instagram (most negative)
If you suffer from FoMO, read the full report here:
GP bread and butter – preventive health
A recent report shows that Australia compares very poorly with OECD countries like Canada, NZ and the UK regarding health spend on prevention.
The numbers say it all: the annual cost of treating chronic disease in Australia is around $27b and yet we spend just over $2b a year on prevention.
More numbers? Chronic disease accounts for 66% of the burden of disease and 83% of all premature deaths. Half the population suffers from a chronic disease.
The report argues for more spending on preventive health based on cost-effectiveness and notes that the choice of funding mechanism for preventive health activities seems to be based on history rather than efficacy.
Was there ever a better case for evidence-based policy than preventive health?
Singing to the choir here but if you’re interested and want to read more, the report can be found here:
National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-Being for Australia
This framework was the result of a long process of consultation with key Australian health stakeholders.
The outcome is support for the Commonwealth Government to protect the health and well-being of Australian communities from the effects of climate change.
The framework recognizes that many of the determinants of health and well-being lie outside the health portfolio.
The vision is one of “ a fair and environmentally sustainable national policy framework that recognizes, manages and addresses the health risks of climate change and promotes health through climate change action” (p6).
The findings of the consultation were grouped under 4 themes:
- The power of the health voice in climate change policy and action
- The critical role of the Federal Government in climate and health
- Knowledge and concerns about climate change and climate policy
- Support for and architecture of a National Strategy for Climate, Health and Well-being.
The framework cites some startling stats including:
- Excess deaths due to heatwaves in 2009 and 2014 of 374 and 167 respectively
- Several thousand additional deaths due to heatwaves predicted
- A 3,000% increase in asthma-related admissions due to climate related evens such as the 2016 thunderstorm asthma event in Victoria
- Hundreds of thousands of deaths annually resulting from coal-fired electricity generation
- Health impacts of coal-fired power generation costing Australia $2.6b annually
- Health and social costs of Victorian and Queensland bushfires in 2011 of $3.9b and $7.4b
- Reduced productivity due to heat at a cost of $8b annually
- Health benefits of climate change mitigation policies offsetting implementation costs by 10 times.
The framework outlines 7 areas of policy action including:
- Health promoting and emissions-reducing policies
- Emergency and disaster-preparedness
- Supporting healthy and resilient communities
- Education and capacity building
- Leadership and governance
- A sustainable and climate-resilient health sector
- Research and data
Key policy recommendations include:
- Establishing national emissions reduction targets
- Evaluating economic savings and health benefits with emissions reduction
- Reducing deaths from air pollution by phasing out coal and stronger emissions standards for vehicles
- Prevention measures to address poor health associated with building standards
- Inclusion of health impact assessments in the evaluation of major project applications
- Public education programs to promote low emission diets and lifestyles
- A national education and training framework for health professionals
- A national environmental health surveillance system
- Establishing a Ministerial Health and Climate Change Forum.
We’ll follow this one but read the strategy and related documents here: