Public health initiatives in Australia
Find out what public health initiatives do and why they're important.
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Public health initiatives are set up by the Australian government with the broad intention of improving people's health. There are lots of different health initiatives in Australia aimed at addressing a wide range of health issues, from public health research initiatives to mental health campaigns.
What is a health initiative?
A public health initiative is a program or initiative that provides support for specific health issues that exist within the community. They're generally set up by the government and seek to inform and assist the public about health issues. Initiatives can include research initiatives, like stem cell research, to campaigns aimed at informing and educating on specific health issues.
Health initiative examples
The following are some of the main health issues facing Australia today and some government initiatives that are responding to them.
Health initiatives for mental health issues
- The Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission aims to help a million Australians with mental health issues access new approaches to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
- KidsMatter supports mental health promotion and early intervention for all children through universal, evidence-based primary school and early childhood programs.
Women's health initiatives
- The National Women's Health Strategy: 2020–2030 aims to improve the health and wellbeing of all women and girls in Australia.
- The Maternity Services and Stillbirth Prevention is an Australian government initiative that aims to support efforts to improve care and outcomes across all states.
- The National Perinatal Depression Initiative aims to improve prevention and early detection of antenatal and postnatal depression, as well as provide better support for new mothers experiencing depression.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives
- The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.
- The Youth Employment Program is a program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to help them into employment or further study upon completion of high school.
Health initiatives for drugs, alcohol and tobacco
- The FASD Action Plan aims to research and educate regarding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders resulting from drinking during pregnancy.
- The Good Sports Program provides funding for programs aimed at changing attitudes to alcohol through partnerships with sporting clubs.
- Needle and syringe programs (NSPs) aim to increase education, counselling and referral services and the accessibility of NSPs through pharmacies and other outlets.
- Pregnant Pause initiative is a funded initiative that encourages Australians to go alcohol-free during their pregnancy or during the pregnancy of a family member or loved one.
Examples of successful initiatives in Australia
Here are some of the successful initiatives in Australia:
- Neural tube defects. In the past decade, public health initiatives have helped dramatically reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects in Australia. Neural tube defects are severe birth defects, with high mortality and lifelong morbidity. The National Health and Medical Research Council released recommendations to increase folate intake periconceptionally which helped protect babies against neural tube defects.
- Immunisation and disease elimination. In the past 20 years, Australia has mounted a number of national immunisation campaigns such as the National Measles Control Campaign of 1998 and the Meningococcal C campaign of 2003–04 to help reduce and protect millions of Australians.
- Lifetime health cover initiative. Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) is a government initiative that started back in 2000. It was created to encourage people to take out hospital insurance earlier in life by allowing them to avoid paying LHC loading. If you're under 31, now is a good time to get private health insurance so as to avoid the premium charge.
- Cervical cancer. The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) promotes the (pap) smear for women aged 18–69, or 2 years after first becoming sexually active. The test detects pre-cancerous cells and was introduced in 1991. By 2002 it had reduced the incidence of the disease by half (from 13 to 7 cases per 100,000 women).
Why are initiatives important in Australia?
While not all government initiatives have successful outcomes, health initiatives can be important because they can help health professionals and the government understand more about what needs to be done to address specific issues. Broadly speaking, health initiatives can:
- Help find cures and vaccinations for diseases and illnesses, including immunisation campaigns.
- Improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
- Relieve pressure on the public healthcare system by improving the health of Australians.
- Educate and inform people about disease prevention and promote better health and lifestyle choices.
- Address issues in the public healthcare system which do not provide sufficient support.
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