A re-elected Labor Government will provide $1.7 million to fund the expansion of the popular Deadly Choices Healthy Lifestyle Program for Indigenous communities in north west Queensland, Labor candidate for Traeger Danielle Slade announced.
The funding is part of a $16 million expansion of the Deadly Choices program statewide announced by Health Minister Cameron Dick.
Ms Slade said the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health would work with local Indigenous service providers across the State to roll out the successful preventive health and positive lifestyle choices program in Mount Isa and in Gulf communities.
“It is well known that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience poorer health outcomes than Queenslanders generally,” Ms Slade said.
“This is not acceptable. Encouragingly, however, things are starting to improve.
“Closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders across a range of performance areas has been a focus of the Palaszczuk’s Government’s efforts over the last three years.
“This is why the government has been to strengthen Indigenous health services and programs throughout the state.
“The Deadly Choices Healthy Lifestyle Program continues to be a powerful vehicle for positive change in Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“It is kicking goals when it comes to improving health knowledge, attitudes and lifestyle behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Ms Slade said that since the start of the program in 2012–13, there had been a significant increase in the number of health checks undertaken by Indigenous Queenslanders.
“Deadly Choices focuses on increasing levels of physical activity, reducing smoking, better nutrition and regular health checks,” she said.
“The support of the Brisbane Broncos and prominent Indigenous ambassadors and sporting identities has proven to be a winning formula for the program.
“Research confirms that screening at Deadly Choices community days results in community members being twice as likely as other Indigenous people to engage with their local health service for a full health check.”
Ms Slade said the $1.7 million funding injection also provide employment opportunities for eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as program facilitators, personal trainers, data managers and multi-media officers.
“By working with Indigenous communities and service providers and programs such as Deadly Choices, we are gradually making headway in closing the gap of disadvantage in Indigenous communities.
“This is made possible by delivering better outcomes in health, life expectancy, education, employment and economic participation,” she said.
Mr Dick said as was the case for all Queenslanders, much of the chronic disease burden in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was avoidable, and could be prevented through adopting healthy lifestyles and identifying health risks earlier.
The Deadly Choices Healthy Lifestyle Program will help Indigenous people have regular health assessments, learn about healthy lifestyles and make healthier choices. It will include activities such as:
- community days and sporting events featuring rock climbing, jumping castle, Zumba, traditional Indigenous games, arts and crafts, sprint races, traditional food, physical activities for Elders, and Good Quick Tukka food choices.
- tackling Indigenous smoking
- sporting events including Murri Rugby League Carnival
- Deadly Choices leadership camp
- school education program – focusing on leadership and mentoring, chronic disease awareness, tobacco, nutrition, physical activity, harmful substances, healthy relationships and awareness of and access to health services.
The Deadly Choices Healthy Lifestyle Program also complements the Palaszczuk Government’s diabetes and chronic disease prevention focus of the My Health for Life program, which aims to reach 1600 Indigenous people across Queensland over four years.
CEO of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Adrian Carson welcomed the new funding, saying it would bring life-saving and life-changing benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.
“More and more of our community are participating in Deadly Choicescommunity days and sporting events,” Mr Carson said.
“We know that people participating in Deadly Choices events are twice as likely as other Indigenous Queenslanders to engage with their local health clinic.
“This means more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being exposed to health assessments and follow-up health care.
“We are encouraged by this recognition that health promotion and early identification of illness are vital to closing the health gap and welcome the Government’s commitment to supporting our preventive health efforts,” Mr Carson said.
“The size and scope of this initiative also means the creation of quite a number of jobs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through their involvement in delivering the Deadly Choices preventive health and health promotion program.”
CEO of Gidgee Healing in Mount Isa Dallas Leon said the Deadly Choicesprogram equipped young people with the knowledge to not only adopt healthy lifestyles themselves, but also to become healthy role models for family, friends and the broader community.
“This has proved to be by far the most effective way of influencing behaviour change,” Mr Leon said.
Mr Dick said a re-elected Labor Government would also provide $500,000 for expansion of multimedia, community engagement and education programs to promote the sexual health of Indigenous Queenslanders.
This would be be done through incorporating sexual and reproductive health promotion and screening for sexually transmissible infections into community events, school-based education activities and health checks.
Further, a Labor Government would provide a one-off $75,000 grant to the Queensland AIDS Council to work with Deadly Choices and the Queensland Injectors Gealth Network to develop strategies to reach LGBTIQ Indigenous people and injecting drug users.