Taking Preventative Action
4.1 Recommendation: Establish the Australian National Preventive Health Agency
Establish the NPA as an independent agency able to translate broad policy intent into evidence-based strategies with built-in evaluation and the capacity to leverage a range of policy levers and partners, both within and outside government.
The Commonwealth Government agrees with this recommendation and has already taken action to establish the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (with $133.2 million in funding) as an independent statutory authority under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. Funded through the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health and agreed by COAG, the Agency will support all Australian Health Ministers in their efforts to combat the challenges arising from complex preventative health problems such as obesity, tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, which require intensive effort to address, across a range of sectors over long time periods.
Legislation to establish the Australian National Preventive Health Agency is currently before Parliament. The Agency was intended to commence operations on 1 January 2010, however, delays in the Senate’s consideration of the Bill has delayed its commencement. Pending successful passage of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency Bill 2009 in the Winter 2010 sittings, the Agency is expected to be established in mid to late 2010.
Appoint an expert, cross-sectoral Board of Governance of the Agency.
Consistent with the intent of the Taskforce, the Agency will be supported by an independent and expert cross-sectoral advisory council. While the Taskforce called for a governing board, governance arrangements for Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 agencies preclude the appointment of a governing board as the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the Agency’s financial management.
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The Taskforce recommends that the NPA:
- provides a national clearing house for the monitoring and evaluation of national policies and programs in preventative health;
- publishes annual reports on the state of preventative health, including reporting on progress towards the achievement of the 2020 goals specified in this Strategy;
- advises COAG, through the Australian Health Ministers Conference (AHMC), on national priorities and options for preventative health;
- administers national programs, facilitates national partnerships, and advises on national infrastructure for surveillance, monitoring, research and evaluation as charged by AHMC; and
- develops for consideration by AHMC the next phase of preventative health reform to follow after this Strategy.
- has an increased capacity and budget to that currently envisaged in the COAG agreement on preventative health.
NPA to develop a web-based clearing house/register for organisational policies, plans and achievements in order to share good practice across the country.
The Agency will play a critical role in the evaluation of the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health and programs supporting healthy lifestyles, with a focus on disseminating good practice and sharing lessons nationally. The Commonwealth Government supports the development of a mechanism of sharing good practice and will seek advice from the Agency, once established, on the most appropriate mechanism for achieving this outcome.
NPA to commission/conduct from time to time surveys of activities under taken by different sectors, and barriers to and enablers of action, and to report on these.
The Commonwealth Government is committed to identifying barriers and enablers to effective action and expects the Agency, as par t of its core functions, to also focus on these issues. The Agency has been allocated a substantial research fund ($13.1 million) and will develop a national preventative health research strategy, in consultation with the NHMRC, to guide its application.
The Government expects that to be effective and to avoid duplication, the Agency will build on and complement existing surveys rather than replicate data collections. Existing Commonwealth agencies (ie the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, and the NHMRC) already contribute significantly to surveillance and research activities and the Government expects the Agency to work collaboratively with these agencies and those from other sectors and jurisdictions to enhance rather than duplicate their activities.
Develop national recognition and award scheme for outstanding contributions, large and small, to making Australia the healthiest country by 2020.
NPA to develop and implement a comprehensive, sustained social marketing strategy to increase healthy eating and physical activity, and reduce sedentary behaviour.
NPA to develop and implement effective and sustained national social marketing campaigns at levels of reach demonstrated to reduce smoking, drawing on successful state campaigns as appropriate.
NPA to develop and implement a comprehensive and sustained social marketing and public education strategy, building on the National Binge Drinking Campaign and state campaigns.
The Commonwealth Government agrees that the Agency should play a key role in social marketing for the lifestyle risks of chronic disease – this is appropriate given its research, evaluation and policy roles. The Government has already allocated the Agency $102 million in social marketing funds through the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health, the:
- extension and expansion of the anti-obesity Measure Up campaign ($41 million); and
- development of new tobacco social marketing campaigns ($61 million).
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