Public Health Association of Australia:
A new biodiversity protection plan released this week by the Victorian Government which aims to ensure the long-term protection of the State’s natural areas and encourage the local population to make greater use of their parks and green spaces is a significant step forward in recognising the intrinsic link between thriving natural environments and human health.
Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association Australia said, “As the incidence of non-communicable diseases in Australia such as diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety continues to rise, it’s crucial that governments consider the body of research which demonstrates the connection between these public health issues and increasing levels of urbanisation”.
“There is a wealth of evidence which shows the link between time spent outside in the natural environment and greater levels of health and wellbeing, due to the increased physical activity that results from being outdoors in park and recreation areas and the positive mental effects associated with nature,” said Mr Moore.
The Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 plan forms part of a wider strategy by the Victorian Government for the conservation of natural areas and improving public health, and is in addition to a collaboration between the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and Parks Victoria for the provision of healthy foods and drinks in Victorian park areas.
Mr Moore commented, “The obesity problem in Australia requires an integrated approach which takes into account all of the factors associated with being overweight, including urbanisation and the widespread consumption of unhealthy foods”.
“By providing visitors to its park areas with the option to make healthier food choices, the Victorian Government is making a positive contribution toward reducing the impact of an unhealthy diet on its population”.
The new plan was presented by The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP at the 15th World Congress on Public Health 2017 on Tuesday morning, currently being held in Melbourne with over 2500 international delegates in attendance and which is being co-hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia.
It was presented during a high-level plenary session on sustainable development at the Congress, providing attendees with an insight into Australian efforts to protect the natural environment and improve the health of its national population.