AusPAnet: National Physical Activity Consensus Forum and Communique

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Call for a National Physical Activity Action Plan to get Australia to ‘Move More and Sit Less’

The Heart Foundation hosted a National Consensus Forum at Parliament House, Canberra, on Friday 11 September 2015, to:

  • build consensus around Australia’s urgent need for a funded National Physical Activity Action Plan
  • identify priorities for policy and program actions that will get Australians to move more and sit less
  • mobilise agencies and stakeholders to join the Heart Foundation in advocacy to ensure a funded National Physical Activity Action Plan is incorporated into the policy priorities of the major parties contesting the 2016 Federal election.

Around 100 people attended the forum, with a further 200 participating online.

Attendees were from government, education, sport, transport, business, research and health sectors.

The forum was an impressive gathering of leading Australian and international physical activity experts, scientists, community stakeholders and policy advocates.

Eight priority areas were identified as being integral to the development of a National Physical Activity Action Plan.

  1. Active children - school-based programs to get Australia’s children moving;
  2. Active workplaces - workplace programs to drive productivity through physical activity and reducing sitting;
  3. Active transport, walking and cycling - transport systems that prioritise walking, cycling and public transport;
  4. Active cities and neighbourhoods - urban design guidance and regulation to create liveable and active cities and neighbourhoods;
  5. Active health care - physical activity prescription integrated into primary care;
  6. Active public education - media campaigns to reinvigorate an active culture and motivate Australians to move more and sit less;
  7. Active clubs and sport - sport and recreation services to boost participation;
  8. Active communities - community-based programs to engage and inspire communities to be more physically active; and
  9. Active seniors – community and aged-care policies and programs to keep senior active, fit and well.

The ninth area was added following feedback at the Forum.

The discussion from the forum and responses from a pre-forum survey will form the basis for the final communique – a consensus document that can be used widely to advocate for a National Physical Activity Action Plan.

Keynote speaker, Professor Nanette Mutrie, Chair of Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh, inspired those present with compelling evidence for action as well as practical examples of policy success from her native Scotland.

Professor Mutrie played a leading role in Active Scotland, a 20-year physical activity plan that has made a positive impact on sedentary lifestyles and behaviours.

Professor Mutrie highlighted that although Australian experts assisted Scotland in the development of their national physical activity plan, Australia is yet to join the more than 30 other nations who have a national plan.

Other key speakers at the forum included the Heart Foundation’s National CEO, Mary Barry; AMA Vice-President Dr Stephen Parnis; and the chair of the Heart Foundation’s National Physical Activity Advisory Committee, Professor Jo Salmon.

Important contributions were made by representatives from the Federal Government, Opposition and the Greens, with Minister Fiona Nash, Labor Member for Shortland, Jill Hall; and Australian Greens Senator for Victoria, Janet Rice, addressing the Forum.

An impressive array of senior public servants also attended and participated, including senior Health Department officials; also Deputy Secretary, Dr Wendy Southern; and First Assistant Secretary, Dr Lisa Studdert.

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash indicated that she looked forward to receiving the forum communiqué and would look seriously at its recommendations.

The minister acknowledged the importance of physical inactivity and its impact on chronic disease. The Heart Foundation has already commenced its follow up advocacy strategy – and we ask you to join us in this vital cause.