Introduction by Croakey: We’re opening up dialogue with Croakey readers on the issues of importance in the lead-up to the Federal election. In the months before the crucial poll, we expect climate and health equity issues to be at the forefront of political debate.
Croakey Health Media directors and members invite interested individuals or representatives of groups to join us tomorrow, 4 November 2021, for an online discussion about the Federal election and the key public health and health equity issues you would like to see covered.
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You can read below some of the issues Croakey Health Media directors and members have nominated as important in the run-up to the election.
Jennifer Doggett, CHM member
The need to learn from our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic to inform future health policies and programs, specifically: the need for better public health infrastructure, the role of social determinants, the need to improve health literacy, inequities in access to healthcare across the community; the benefits of the Aboriginal community-controlled health services; the importance of engaging local communities; and the need for reforms in media policy and regulation of digital platforms.
First Nations Voice to Parliament
James Blackwell, CHM director
My key election issue is a First Nations Voice to Parliament. We won’t truly achieve long-lasting change in this country for First Nations people, or bridge some of the major gaps we face, until we achieve a Voice enshrined in the Constitution. Such a Voice would allow us a say and control over our own affairs, and allow us to speak to Government on our own terms, and set the agenda for our future. Both major parties need to commit to holding a referendum on a Voice within the next term of Parliament, before it is implemented by legislation.
Focus on equity and value
Alison Verhoeven, Croakey Health Media director
Over the past two years, as we’ve reeled from bushfires to the pandemic, those working in our health system have been heroic in their efforts to keep us healthy, both in responding to these challenges and in their ‘business as usual’ work.
Heading into the next election, we need to focus on adequate funding for our public health system which has served us so well, but which is now stretched almost to breaking point in some quarters. This is not the time for party politics or Commonwealth-state disputes. Reorienting towards equity and value will be critical to a healthy Australia, and should be the focus of all parties.
Professor Megan Williams, CHM chair and member
Action on climate change; and accountability.
Associate Professor Lesley Russell, CHM member
As we head into election season, what I want to see from the major political parties is a new attitude to delivering on commitments and needed reforms.
I want to see leadership, bravery, vision – and, critically, meaningful action. That means:
- No more referring hard issues off to committees and advisory groups.
- Making use of the raft of reports, recommendations, strategies and priorities that have already been developed.
- The provision of flexible and longer-term funding to enable innovative approaches already underway to be expanded, evaluated and communicated.
- No more short-term pilot programs, wound up and out of funding before there is time to understand their value.
- Efforts to achieve a bipartisan approach so that new initiatives can be implemented beyond a single election cycle and survive a change in government.
- Co-design and consultation with all the stakeholders, not just those with the loudest voices or the biggest lobbying presence.
- No more dumping out a policy on major issues (I’m thinking aged care, mental health, primary care, integrated care) with four years of funding, thinking that is it and never returning to the issue again. The hard issues require hard work and will never be fully addressed in one try.
Learn from COVID
Alison Barrett, CHM member
The past two years in Australia have highlighted the importance of the public health sector and emergency preparedness. As we move towards the next election and continue into the next phase of the pandemic, we need to ensure we learn from national and international experiences of COVID-19, and focus on policies that will ensure we are prepared for the next pandemic or natural disaster.
As existing social, economic and health inequalities have been intensified by the pandemic, we also need to focus on addressing policies that reduce health inequalities and inequities. Lastly, it is time for a serious strategy and action on climate, health and wellbeing.
Equity and justice
Marie McInerney, CHM member
Equity and justice: climate action to match the scale of the emergency, embracing the Uluru Statement on Voice, Truth and Treaty, most of the housing policy that Labor took to the last election (negative gearing/capital gains etc), a permanent ‘Supplement’ for people needing income support, a humane refugee policy that would see the release of all refugees from detention……for starters.
Laurell Grubb, CHM member
The environment, the environment, the environment, the environment! Without a healthy environment, there is no health.
Climate change number one
Linda Doherty, CHM member
I am watching with interest the rise of the Independent’s movement targeting government inaction on climate change, and the many health professionals actively campaigning because they see firsthand the impact of the climate emergency on their patients’ lives.
There is a real momentum in the lead-up to this election – like no other election – from grassroots community groups wanting to do democracy differently and have their voices actually heard.
Regulate digital platforms effectively
Peter Lewis, CHM director
An all-of-government approach to regulating the digital platforms and working for non-commercial alternatives to manage civic connection. While there are multiple attempts to regulate Big Tech, in Australia the effort is disjointed across multiple portfolios. Currently the Government has recommendations from the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry and the AHRC Human rights and Technology Report working their way through multiple departments. Coordinating this effort under a single Minister would see this important work implemented.
Mitchell Ward, CHM member
‘Brand Australia’ – going cheap. Brave and visionary leadership is sadly lacking at a Federal level. Sloganeering press conferences and the continuing ‘he said, she said’ mentality will not produce better health outcomes for anyone – but it makes for great headlines. Sadly.
Dr Melissa Sweet, CHM director and member
Imagine if our mainstream political discourse was not narrowly focused on self-interest and so-called ‘winners’ and ‘losers’; imagine if we collectively interrogated policies for their impact on the health and wellbeing of future generations. Let’s give it a go, this #AusVotesHealth.
See Croakey’s coverage of the 2019 Federal election.