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What’s on the menu for Queensland’s new Health Media Club? Some Ministerial grilling, perhaps

Last Friday, at the very end of the financial year, the Queensland Health Department released a statement (you can download it here in the section marked June 29) announcing 67 projects that were about to lose grants.

Another 24 projects would receive another three months of funding “to wind up reliance on grant funding”, while another 59 projects would be renewed for three months pending review, and another 119 projects were to receive continued funding.

Among those hit by cutbacks were family planning, health promotion and Indigenous health services – and you can see some of the concerned reactions in these news stories.

All of which suggests that the first meeting of Queensland’s new Health Media Club – featuring new Health Minister Lawrence Springborg – is likely to be a lively affair.

Jane Milburn, who founded the club and is communications manager for Diabetes Queensland in her day job, explains its aims in the article below, and says it may take a national focus.

***

What’s the appetite for preventive health?

Jane Milburn writes:

Talk about wellness reminds us there is nothing more important we do every day than prioritise our health.

Human health matters – it plays a pivotal role in the lives of individuals, businesses, governments and communities. Without wellness there is illness and sickness, ambulances and hospitals.

That’s why a group of journalists and health communicators created the Health Media Club as a network for conversation about health and wellness – with Queensland’s new Health Minister Lawrence Springborg stepping up to the plate on July 12 as inaugural speaker.

Back in 2008, Lawrence Springborg outlined his vision for the Liberal-National Party to fix the chronically ill conservative side of Queensland politics and now, in 2012, Minister Springborg’s new patient is the Queensland health system.

Health is often covered in a political context – reactively focusing on waiting lists, ambulance delays, staffing and bureaucratic troubles – which tends to overshadow the preventive health agenda that could keep people out of hospitals and reduce demand for health intervention.

Prevention now beats intervention later. This is the driver for the Health Media Club which sees peak health groups joining forces with journalists to create a networking forum to raise society’s consciousness of preventive health, self-preservation and longevity.

Media clubs already exist in the wide-ranging spheres from politics through business to rural, wine and food. The Health Media Club provides a platform to steer the health debate to a forward-looking, proactive and positive position.

It has emerged as an initiative of the Queensland NGO Swap It program, which is led by Diabetes Queensland and brings together Cancer Council Queensland, the Heart Foundation and Nutrition Australia Qld – and others with an interest in preventive health.

It is one of a number of media-related activities that aim to trigger healthy change at a time when overweight and obesity are endemic, making us susceptible to life-shortening but largely preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers and heart failure.

As many Queenslanders grow older and more overweight every year, hospital waiting times and health budgets continue to escalate.  Health cost Queensland $11 billion in 2011 and unless our lifestyles change for the better, that is projected to treble by 2033.

Non-government health organisations believe investing in prevention is essential to turning the tide – and this is a view supported by a health forum led by The Courier-Mail last year.

That’s why it is appropriate that Minister Springborg, as inaugural Health Media Club speaker is addressing the topic: What is the appetite for preventive health in Queensland?

It will be held in Premiers’ Hall in the Parliamentary Annexe, Thursday 12 July from 12.30-2.00pm.

Bookings and information about the club are available via www.healthmediaclub.com.au or contacting me, Jane Milburn, communications manager for Diabetes Queensland, on 0408 787 964 or janemATdiabetesqld.org.au

Although the Health Media Club has its origins in Queensland, a governance structure is being considered by the steering committee to enable the club to have national reach.

Everyone is welcome to attend this Health Media Club lunch (@$85), while working journalists attend as our VIP guests  (no charge).
Bookings close Monday July 9.