Strength For Life Program

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:21): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing regarding the Strength for Life program.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Falls remain one of the leading reasons for older people being admitted to hospital, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reporting that there were an estimated 111,222 hospitalised fall injury cases for Australians aged 65 years or older in 2014-15. Almost 3 per cent of all hospitalisations for people aged 65 or over are a result of a fall. Many falls are a result of muscles and bones becoming weaker with age. Will the minister advise the council on what can be done to improve the health of older South Australians by reducing the incidence of falls?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:22): I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing support for promoting health and wellbeing. In terms of what can be done to reduce falls amongst older South Australians, I refer particularly to the work of the Council on the Ageing SA, which developed the Strength for Life program in 2004 to increase access to strength training programs for older South Australians. It plays a vital role in promoting health and wellbeing amongst people over 50 and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 40. Accredited fitness providers run strength training sessions throughout South Australia. In 2018, COTA SA introduced Strength for Life Aqua into multiple facilities with pools.

The honourable member rightly highlighted the high number of hospitalised fall injury cases. It's noteworthy that women accounted for most of these fall injury cases: 24 per cent of the injuries were to the hip and thigh, 24 per cent to the head and 55 per cent had a principal diagnosis of fracture. Obviously, helping older South Australians to prevent slips, trips and falls is vital to reducing hospital presentations, reducing harms associated with a fall and ensuring South Australians live healthier and longer lives.

The Marshall government recognises the importance of supporting opportunities for older South Australians to age well. We want to encourage them to stay active, improve their strength and balance and support their ongoing health and wellbeing. The Marshall Liberal government is committed to providing funding of $400,000 over four years from 2018-19 to COTA SA to extend the reach of the Strength for Life program. A key focus of our commitment is to strengthen access to programs for older people in rural and regional South Australia, older people from Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse communities and older people in economically disadvantaged communities.

Our funding commitment delivers on our election commitment to increase access. It also reflects our commitment to support community-wide health and prevention services. Nobody wants to be admitted to a hospital, no matter how good the hospital is. Strategies such as Strength for Life can reduce the risk of avoidable hospitalisation.