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Finding balance the key to good health By Kym Goodes, CEO, TasCOSS

Published in The Examiner, 10 August 2016 ONE of the biggest challenges any government faces is balancing short-term budget priorities with longterm, strategic decisions and investment for the future. In Tasmania, the greatest challenge in managing these two competing interests is in health. On the one hand, failing to manage the day-to-day carries a high personal risk for patients and an equally high political risk for government. Emergency Department waiting room overloads combined with ambulance ramping and bed blocks are common headlines because they are real issues for many Tasmanians, who desperately need a responsive health system. Yet long-term investment in preventative health has the potential to change the lives of future generations of Tasmanians. What is needed is government with the vision and leadership to prioritise investment in prevention now for a long-term dividend. How does a government find the appropriate balance between these two competing priorities that sit within one health system and the electoral cycle? It is these questions, challenges and balancing acts that you can be sure occupy the mind of our Health Minister and our Premier. Particularly because the release of the long awaited Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan came with high expectations. Health Minister Michael Ferguson has rightly set an aspirational goal for Tasmania - to be the healthiest population by 2025. We are coming off a very low base, with our population health outcomes some of the worst in the nation on nearly every measure. The strategic plan provides some important targeted areas that align with the consultation feedback. This includes An opportunity for innovative, community driven responses Encouraging healthy eating and greater physical activity Improving health literacy so Tasmanians can make informed decisions about their health and well-being Tackling the twin scourges of obesity and smoking A shared responsibility for preventative health across government

Finding balance the key to good health  
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