This is a second attempt to craft a set of messages about health that PM Gillard might transmit, modified in the light of your comments and suggestions, some of which have been included verbatim. An attempt has been made to generalize and personalize the ‘chat’ using ‘we’, ‘us’, and some personal anecdotes. Please note that these are fictitious and are simply included to illustrate the value of the personal approach. I have no knowledge of PM Gillard’s experiences in the health area, but she must have had many which would allow her to add a personal touch to what she says.
So this is Mark 2. Please feel free to make further suggestions about how it might be improved. It would be satisfying to at least get the message pretty right. Delivering it is another matter, which needs to be dealt with also, but in your comments it would make for more balanced discourse if you could comment on the content of the message and the process of delivery separately. In regard to the latter, there is the question of the most appropriate media for delivering the messages, and of course Julia Gillard’s style of delivery.
I suggest you read it just as it comes at you, rather than trying to pick the difference from the first version. I look forward to your further feedback. For me, this has been an informative exercise.
Tonight I want to talk to you about your health and the health of your community.
All of us know how important good health is to us. It gives us feelings of wellbeing. It makes it possible for us achieve our ambitions.
We know too that a healthy community is a good place in which to live, and a healthy workforce makes for high productivity and prosperity.
Yet many of us are not well; not all have the best of health. This is why we need a good health care system.
It is up to governments, both federal and state, to give all of you the best opportunity to lead healthy, happy, productive lives by providing easily accessible and affordable health services near to where you live.
Yet I have spoken with mothers and fathers who have had great difficulty getting a doctor when they needed need one, and have endured long waits, often in overcrowded hospital emergency departments. One solution was to build GP Super Clinics [images of interior of Super Clinics with just a few patients
] where communities requested them, so that these parents can get quick access to good care when they need it, especially after hours. Another solution was to train many more primary care doctors and nurses to overcome the shortage we now experience.
Because much of the illness in the community is preventable, great emphasis has been placed on primary care that is given by your family doctor, your GP, or a community nurse. Your GP [images of a female GP consulting with a mother and child
] is trained to prevent illness through immunization and advocating a healthy lifestyle. GPs are also trained to detect illness in its early stages when it is most treatable, as well as treating established disease.
Lifestyle conditions afflict too many in this country. We can all see that obesity is widespread, even among children, [images of obese persons
] and combined with physical inactivity and a poor diet too often leads to heart problems, diabetes, joint problems and some cancers.
Alcohol and substance abuse, [images of social effects of alcohol
] along with smoking, have caused havoc. Binge drinking, especially among the young, has reached alarming proportions. Alcopops legislation has reduced the sale of these products, so attractive to adolescents yet so dangerous.
Smoking kills over 15,000 Australians each year and costs well over half a billion dollars in healthcare. In a further attempt to reduce smoking plain packaging for cigarettes with dire health warnings will soon be introduced [images of Nicola Roxon with plain packages and warnings
]. The tobacco industry is fighting this tooth and nail because it believes it will reduce its profits, but I am determined to press ahead because we believe plain packaging will discourage young people from taking up this dangerous habit.
Mental illness is on the rise. Is there any one of us who has not been touched by it in our family or amongst our friends or workmates? It is affecting both old and young. Suicide is high and leaves tragedy in its wake. Last year 2000 people took their own lives; 300 were young people between 15 and 24.
The 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Pat McGorry, [image of Pat McGorry with Julia Gillard
] has strongly advocated for increased funding for mental health for the ‘headspace’ and other programs, so in this year’s budget several billion dollars was committed for this purpose over the next four years. Mental health must be a top priority.
As the population ages, the number of older people needing support is rising steadily [images of older people in their homes
]. I see them as I travel around the country. As more and more baby boomers reach retiring age the demand for services for the elderly and places in retirement homes will rise steeply and place even greater pressure on this sector [images of nursing homes
]. We must respond by providing more qualified staff, more carers, and more facilities to care for our older citizens. Carers are in special need of our support [images of carers caring for patients
We know that the incidence of serious chronic illness, such as cancer, is rising. A few years ago my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I saw at first hand the excellent quality of the medical care she received, but also came to understand that the personal support from family and friends, and the physical environment in which she received her care, were also vitally important to a good outcome. Because she was a country girl the stress on her young family was increased by the need to travel a long way to Adelaide for treatment, and too often be alone while doing so. She told me that it would have helped a great deal if a clinic had been available closer to home. [This anecdote is fictitious and used only as an example
]. The cancer clinics that have been built in regional areas in the recent times, [several images of cancer clinics, perhaps with one being opened by the PM
] like the one recently announced for Albury, are the result of that conversation, both of us in tears.
We have leading researchers in this field; now I want to support them properly for the next round of breakthroughs in cancer treatment. One day I hope no one will have a young friend dying from breast cancer like I did.
Many people living in rural and regional areas have told me that distance from large specialized centres has been a crippling burden. One of the benefits of the National Broadband Network [images of NBN installations, perhaps the opening of the Armidale one
] is that it will reduce that remoteness by enabling consultations between rural patients and city specialists via super fast broadband [moving image of a remote consultation
The NBN will enable monitoring of the chronically ill in their homes, which will reduce the pressure on hospitals and nursing homes [image of elderly person monitored at home
], and e-health will enable your health records to be available to any health care provider that you consult, no matter where [image of health record on a computer
And the increasing prevalence of disability in both old and young demands our attention, to them and their carers. I have seen the burden that carers carry; we must support them wherever they are. [images of disabled persons with carers
]. The NBN will bring support closer to those in remote places.
It is a depressing fact of life that dementia is becoming more and more common. I see many with dementia on my visits to nursing homes, and the sadness that brings to them, their family and their carers. [more images of older persons with Julia Gillard
]. We must provide for them and their carers.
With the aging of the population the cost of health care will continue its steady rise to the point where at mid century all of a state’s budget will be consumed by health care costs alone, leaving none for other essential services, unless different funding arrangements are made.
This is why the Federal Government has entered into an arrangement with the states to share healthcare costs, with 50% being funded by the Commonwealth [image of COAG meeting over the health care agreement
Federal and state governments will contribute to a single national pool for hospital funding to be administered by an independent national funding body. Hospitals will be funded based on the activity they undertake. Independent local hospital networks [images of local hospitals, staff and patients
] will be responsible for managing public hospital services and the funding to provide those services.
This will take some of the pressure off state health departments and will give greater responsibility to those actually delivering the care.
The new arrangements are designed to contain rising costs and reduce the far-too-long waiting times for elective surgery and the long periods in hospital emergency rooms that we all know ill patients endure while waiting for treatment or admission.
We are determined to remedy the problems with the hospital system we all know about by providing enough beds, sufficient well-trained staff and easy and rapid access.
The Government strongly supports Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Private Health Insurance, which we believe should be means tested, and medical research.
Healthcare, along with education, are at the top of the Government’s priorities. It has already devoted countless billions to health, and in the recent budget has allocated still more.
Compared with other countries we know that Australia has a fine health care system, but we also know that it can be improved in many areas.
We are determined to bring about these improvements and to complete the health reforms begun in the Government’s last term so that all Australians can have the high quality health care and support that all deserve, where they live and when they need it.
I ask that you join with me in achieving that aim. I need your help and support.
Thank you for your attention. PostscriptPlease note that the anecdotes in this piece are fictitious and are used simply as examples.
What do you think of Mark 2?