November Advocacy Update

Fit For Office

Our Fit for Office Campaign wrapped up on 22 October 2023 which involved 170 active challengers who were 26 Federal MP’s, Senators and their staff. Through this campaign our Federal MP’s, Senators and Political Staff completed 3,807 workouts over 1 4,714 hours and burned 2,021,867 calories!

The top three politicians were:

  1. Dr Andrew Leigh MP– the ultimate ambassador for physical activity who enjoys running in nature and listening to the kookaburras, runs ultramarathons and is training for an ironman, who once famously said that if exercise was a pill, it’d be a wonder drug! and who finishes marathons smiling – all the while who is the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment.

Dr Leigh was a huge advocate for this campaign and we have really appreciated his support!

  1. Angus Taylor MP– pollie pedalled his way through WA recently and has helped raise money for organisations such as Carers Australia and Ronald McDonald House. The most recent beneficiary of the Pollie Pedal was Soldier On, a fellow veterans’ charity. Whilst being the Shadow Treasurer, Angus also trains for and regularly competes in triathlons and running events. He represented Australia for his age group at the triathlon World Championships in 2009.
  2. Dr Helen Haines MP– is an inspirational all- rounder who has somehow fit in time for her exercise between all her commitments with the people of Indi and supporting the nation in Parliament, with an impressive doctoral degree in medical science and a deep knowledge of epidemiology, public health, and rural health, Helen is also a nurse, midwife, teacher and academic.

We would especially like to thank the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh, Fiona Phillips, Bridget Archer, Senator Susan McDonald, Senator Tammy Tyrrell, the Hon Senator Anne Ruston, Angus Taylor and the Hon Melissa McIntosh for celebrating the last week of Fit for Office at a gathering at Parliament House on 18 October (I’ve attached a photo) who had many wonderful stories about this campaign, saying that it had encouraged and motivated them and their staff to move more.

A big heartfelt thanks also goes to all our members who got their communities involved in this campaign. A big shout out goes to Korin Koutsomihalis and her SOUL FIT CO community who participated throughout this challenge- and every week, met the World Health Organisation guidelines for physical activity. They also finished the challenge with a six hour walk around Gerringong & Gerroa, which was an incredible effort! (photos are attached).

We plan to run Fit for Office again next year and will be reaching out to you all again to get involved to make it bigger and better- so we can get as many people moving as possible. Through this campaign, we’d like to continue our goal for politicians to lead from the top and inspire Australians to be active more often and to raise awareness about the importance of regular physical activity.

Our other goal has been to develop relationships with Federal Politicians, to advocate to them about the important role you all play by improving the physical and mental health of our communities through physical activity. AUSactive’s aim is to tackle Australia’s inactivity and health crisis and relieve the economic burden on the healthcare system and we have leveraged this challenge to ask the government to invest in a public health campaign to reduce physical inactivity.

Which leads on to the productive meetings that we had in Canberra during October with Federal Politicians and their Staff –

Meeting with the office Hon. Bill Shorten MP, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Barrie Elvish, Board Member Greg Oliver and I met with advisors to Bill Shorten to discuss the significant work that our members do to improve the wellbeing for people with a disability. We discussed the critical need for more Personal Trainers to support people under the NDIS and AUSactive was advised to make a submission to the Independent Review of the NDIS to highlight how we can better work with the government to increase opportunities for people with a disability to improve their physical and mental wellbeing through exercise.

Meeting with the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment

Barrie Elvish, Board Member Greg Oliver and I met with Dr Leigh to discuss some of the initiatives of AUSactive, in particular, our request for a government- lead national public preventative health campaign, encouraging physical activity. This would improve awareness of the risks of physical inactivity and the benefits of getting active.

AUSactive would like to see the government replicate the success of Australia’s Life. Be in it. campaign in some form, that was introduced to increase physical activity and the general wellbeing among Australians and encourage them to take control of their health. This campaign saw twenty per cent of Australians surveyed, take action to be more active.

Meeting with Melanie Burke, Advisor to the Hon. Mark Butler, Minister for Health

Barrie Elvish and I also met with Melanie Burke, Advisor to the Minister for Health about our request for a government- lead national public preventative health campaign, encouraging physical activity.

We also spoke about AUSactive’s investigation into the possibility of developing an opt-in Accreditation system for Professional and Business Members that would have key desired outcomes including, being recognised within Australia’s preventive health environment and increasing consumer confidence in the sector.

Melanie was very receptive to the concept of developing an opt-in Accreditation system for our members and advised that it would be beneficial to engage with departmental experts working on the care economy that relates to those involved in aged care, disability care and support, veterans’ care and early childhood.

We therefore followed up with a meeting with the head of the Care Economy Taskforce, Mr Tim Johnson who also confirmed that developing an opt-in Accreditation system for Professional and Business Members could be very positive for our industry. 

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