SA Healthy Towns Challenge

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:50): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing regarding preventative health.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Most members will be aware that I have spoken many times in this chamber and out in the general community about the importance of preventative measures when it comes to suicide and related mental health issues. Will the minister update the council on general health preventative measures?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:51): I thank the honourable member for his question. The Marshall Liberal government was elected with a strong commitment to preventative health. When medically possible, most people would rather be at home in a familiar place close to friends and family than in a hospital bed, however well-appointed and however good the quality of care. The government believes that, while South Australians should have access to high-quality service provision in hospitals, it is better for the individual and for the public health system if people keep healthy and any illness is effectively managed so that they do not require hospitalisation. The government wants to make it easier for South Australians to stay healthy.

One platform of this approach is the Healthy Towns Challenge which the Premier launched last week in Whyalla. The Healthy Towns Challenge will provide five grants of up to $50,000 each to five regional communities in the state to assist in the implementation of preventative health strategies. The communities applying will partner with a not-for-profit organisation with experience in the health and wellbeing sector in order to deliver projects with a prevention focus and addressing local health needs.

Examples of the sorts of projects which might receive funding through the Healthy Towns Challenge are the establishment of a farmers' market or community swap meet to increase access to affordable and healthy food, conducting screening for type 2 diabetes or skin cancer, replacing or upgrading sporting or playground equipment in the community, providing healthier food options in canteens and for functions, and, acknowledging the honourable member's interest, it may well be for a suicide prevention program.

These are just some of the ideas put forward to begin the conversation on preventative health in South Australia's regional communities, and I look forward to finding out what other creative ideas come forward from South Australians to deliver better health outcomes through preventative programs. The funding of $1 million over four years represents an investment in the future of health in South Australia. The programs funded will offer measurable results and will provide immediate benefits to the community.

Maintaining good health and wellbeing is a shared responsibility between individuals, government and communities more broadly. This program is a demonstration of the government's belief in local communities and the importance of government engaging with communities and delivering better health outcomes.