23 May 2013

Today's Budget

The Premier says she is reducing inequality and looking after people:

What do you think? Has your organisation put out a media release you'd like to share?

16 May 2013

Media Release from Social Determinants of Health Alliance

Here's the media release put out by SDOHA - this Network is a member.

May 14, 2013

Health inequity grows as Senate report gathers dust

While not a source of surprise, the Social Determinants of Health Alliance has expressed disappointment at there not being any mention in this year’s Federal Budget about the shame of increasing rates of health inequity in a country that prides itself on giving everyone a “fair go”.

The Social Determinants of Health Alliance (SDOHA), representing more than 40 health, social service and public policy organisations, was launched in February, shortly before the Senate Community Affairs Committee published the findings of its Inquiry into Australia’s response to World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations on addressing health inequity.

“It has now been 55 days since the committee tabled its report containing five clear recommendations on what should be done to address the unacceptable levels of health inequity in this country,” SDOHA spokesman Martin Laverty said.

“The unanimous report of a committee with representation from across the political spectrum said the Government should start the social determinants ball rolling by adopting the WHO’s Closing the gap in a generation report and commit to addressing the social determinants of health in a manner that’s relevant to the Australian context.”

The adoption of that report, considered by many to be the seminal document on health inequity, was one of the Alliance’s key priorities as outlined in its submission to the Senate Inquiry. It was also highlighted at the February gathering at which Social Inclusion Minister Mark Butler officially launched SDOHA.

SDOHA spokesman Michael Moore said members of the Alliance understand there are serious fiscal constraints on the Commonwealth, as well as states and territories, in the current environment. One of the beauties of the social determinants of health agenda, though, is that it doesn’t necessitate much – if any – spending.

“A great deal can be achieved without any line being added to the Federal Budget,” Mr Moore said. “The committee said governments should adopt practices that ensure consideration of the social determinants of health in policy development across all areas. That won’t add dollars to the Budget, but would change the way politicians and bureaucrats think about health and the ways in which any policy decision can affect people’s health – positively or negatively.”

Professor Sharon Friel, a health equity professor at Australian National University and one of the lead advisors to the WHO’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, said September’s election mustn’t see the health equity agenda shelved.

“With the Government having six months to respond to the Senate Inquiry’s report, it could sit on its hands and do nothing,” Professor Friel said. “We know Prime Minister Julia Gillard has a strong commitment to fairness and equity, though. We know Minister Mark Butler shares that commitment, and we’re confident that the Labor, Greens and Liberal senators who sat on the committee won’t want to see their thoughtful recommendations, which will support economic, social and health policy goals, gather dust on a shelf somewhere. Australians deserve better than to see politics and electioneering placed above their well-being.”

20 Years, 20 Stories - Hobart Screening

20 Years 20 Stories logo, celebrating 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act

Robin Banks, Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, in partnership with Federal Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM, invites you to the Hobart launch of Twenty Years: Twenty Stories, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.
The evening will feature short films about people with disability advocating for their rights and a panel discussion, followed by light refreshments.

The films have captions and audio description.  Auslan interpreters will also be available.
Tuesday 21 May 2013
5.15 pm arrival for a 5.30 pm start, until 7:30 pm
CCAMLR, 181 Macquarie Street, Hobart
Seating is limited, so please register by 17 May 2013 by e-mail to Katrina.warburton@justice.tas.gov.au or call 6216 4431.
The venue is wheelchair accessible. If you have other needs or any dietary requirements, please include these in your RSVP.

15 May 2013

Letter to the editor - Tasmanian Newspapers

Why do our leaders lack such courage?

While mining companies pull in billions of dollars in profits, in some Tasmanian suburbs there are people who can’t even afford to adequately heat their homes. And while the Federal Government spends billions of dollars of public money on programs that encourage more coal, gas and oil to be extracted and burned, in last night’s budget it indicated that it cannot afford to increase Newstart payments for recipients who are living below the poverty line. While the Government folded to the mining industry’s vehement opposition to the proposed mining tax, it has now laid down significant cuts to tertiary education. And while billions of dollars of fuel subsidies remain in place, it cuts funding for renewable energy programs.

And where are we now – in the red? But does this really matter? What matters more is the equity of it all.

Why is it that the Federal Government single-minded looks at ways to cut back (on the things that really matter) without any real consideration for how to draw in additional funds? This is particularly striking, given that it’s staring them in the face – the mining industry. It is utterly inequitable that the Federal Government does not require those who are obscenely wealthy to share their loot and contribute to making a more equitable society: a society in which everyone has the same opportunities to be healthy and where the social conditions of our lives are conducive to good health – a decent education, job, community, home and family life.

Waiting for the ‘rising tide that lifts all boats’ will see us wait around forever. We know for a fact that the neoliberal panacea of the ‘trickle down’ effect has not stood up to examination. The Government must be courageous, and act on the incoming side of the equation not just the outgoing – cuts to services and programs.

Taxes are good for all of us as a society. Individuals may oppose them but we must look beyond the wishes of the wealthy few to what is good for the greater good, and build a more decent compassionate society.

Miriam Herzfeld
Convener, Tasmanian Social Determinants of Health Advocacy Network

For Budget commentary visit:

14 May 2013


After months of deliberation and consultation with the Conference Scientific Committee, we have arrived at a revised working definition for the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion in June 2013. Please see this link for the revised definition

In addition, a web-based consultation for two key outcomes of the Conference - a “Health in All Policies (HiAP) Framework for Country Action” and a Conference Statement - is now being undertaken. The consultation will run from May 9-19, 2013.

The Framework will give countries concrete guidance on how to implement Health in All Policies and the Statement will call for action on HiAP to achieve improved health and equity.

The consultation is administered by WHO and the local organizer, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland. The proposed drafts can be obtained through
this link.

Interested parties are invited to send their comments directly to 8gchp@who.int.

Do we care?

Is the answer to the question why – why do we have such health inequity – that we just don’t care enough?

In a paper on addiction and social compassion, Gavin Mooney wrote the following: 

“In a caring society being poor is not good for health but it is not as bad as being poor in an uncaring society.”

“In an increasingly neoliberal world where individualism, small government and low taxes are the order of the day, compassion can cease to be a public emotion.”

“We live in a competitive society. Competition means that some win and others lose. The question is what becomes of those who lose in the competition in school, on the labour market, on the housing market etc? ....what is required is ‘long term planning and resolute political and economic efforts to provide an opportunity for as many people as possible to feel that they are valuable members of society.”

“Public compassion matters...We need to care not simply because people are poor in income or have had their culture destroyed by colonisation, or are addicted to gambling or drugs, or have fled from some vile regime, but simply because they are badly off. The need is to embrace rather than push away ‘the other’...The embrace must be for the sake of building a decent society, a caring community....”

“In considering the badly off, if we as a community are to assist them, we need to listen to their voices, the voices of the poor, of addicts. Giving voice to the voiceless is the way to achieve a better distribution of power, to support our democractic institutions, to build social capital and to address not just inequalities in health and income but those that exist at a more structural level in our society. That is the road to a decent caring society.” 

02 May 2013

The need for social compassion

Listening to Peter Costello the other night – between bedtime stories, putting toys away and whatever else needed doing – I couldn't help but feel that on an almost daily basis – or at least as often as I get to read/hear some sort of news/media – there seem to be more and more examples that illustrate: Australia – the uncaring society. How have we come to a point where it is considered to be more important to accumulate wealth than to educate our children and young people, and to provide people with disabilities with a decent standard of living and access to the support services they need? I find it highly concerning where the order of the day – the need for budget surpluses, low taxes, the massive accumulation of wealth by a very small proposition of individuals – is seen as being more important than issues of social justice. We must do more to create a more caring compassionate society. Caring is good for health.  

Some quotes from Peter Costello on 7:30 Report 30/4/13: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3748704.htm

“I mean, here we are, Julia Gillard says we've got a structural deficit which we now have, that we've come off record terms of trade, which we now are, and so what's her response? New spending. We're still going into new spending. We're going into the NDIS, we're going into the Gonski spending. Wouldn't you sit back and say we've had five budget deficits in a row, we're heading for another one, we shouldn't be introducing new spending.

"Well, well I would start with the Gonski funding for starters. So here we can't pay for our spending so what are we going to do, we're going to go out and spend more on schools. So let's go to the NDIS. We can't pay for our spending so we'll spend more on disability. We can't pay for our spending to we'll pay for parental leave.

I'd only say this. I wouldn't be introducing it (NDIS) in this form at this time. The budget's in deficit. To fund it you'll have to borrow more money. Wouldn't you say, seeing as we're in deep deficit, seeing as we can't afford to pay for all the spending we've currently got on the books, why should we actually spend more? I'd actually be looking at ways in fact to reduce the spending now, maybe to put it - put some money aside in the future. I wouldn't be sitting down and saying we'll go into a new spend which could be when it fully flowers something like $8 billion a year.