Compared to the national average, Western Sydney suffers much higher rates of lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as diabetes; a condition that is two to three times more prevalent in Western Sydney than the Sydney CBD.
Chronic disease is often difficult for individuals to manage, but it also puts extreme pressure on the region’s hospitals and health services. The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2016 – 2020 claims that diabetes alone is costing Australia around $14 billion dollars a year.
The good news is we can turn this around. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 80 per cent of lifestyle-related diseases are preventable[i]. However, many of the factors which influence an individual’s lifestyle choices – including environment, education and employment – lay outside the traditional health sector.
Access to frequent and reliable public transport, open greenspaces, health education, better access to healthy food and reduced commute times all make it easier for individuals to live healthier lifestyles.
All levels and sectors of government, including local councils have a role to play improving the health of the Western Sydney community.
For example, councils can contribute through the provision of safe and aesthetically pleasing public spaces, foot paths and parks, which can encourage increased physical activity within the community. Research has shown that the distance individuals are willing to walk increases in line with the ‘walkability’ of their environment.
The positive effects of walking have been extensively documented: every additional kilometre walked translates to a 4.8 percent reduction in the likelihood of being obese, and by extension, a reduction in the likelihood of associated lifestyle diseases.
WSROC has been working with the Premier’s Council for Active Living (PCAL), NSW Health and Western Sydney Diabetes to tackle this regional issue at the local level, but all levels and sectors of government (transport, planning, health and education) need to work together if we are to see a reduction chronic disease.
WSROC calls on our federal leaders to lead a true multi-sector approach to health, and reduce the burden of preventable disease on our health system.
Western Sydney news articles:
Blacktown Advocate - Western Sydney councils pledge to tackle diabetes crisis by encouraging residents to walk (Published 3 November, 2015)
Fairfield City Champion – Walking charter a step in the right direction (Published 20 October, 2015)
Auburn City Council – International Charter for Walking (Published October, 2015)
Parramatta takes steps to get people walking (Published 7 September, 2015)
Parramatta Sun – Holroyd Council joins International Charter for Walking (Published 1 July, 2015)
WSROC media releases:
Beat diabetes this World Health Day (Published 4 April, 2016)
Western Sydney councils commit to walk the walk (Published 29 October, 2015)
Book a health check this National Diabetes Week (Published 13 July, 2015)
Western Sydney unites to tackle diabetes (Published 27 February, 2015)
For more information visit our Reports and Submissions pages.
Critical Condition: A comparative study of health services in Western Sydney, August 2012