For preventive health, call in the experts

A familiar face in health reform has been appointed to advise the nascent Australian National Preventive Health Agency.

Above: Head of the new Advisory Council for the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, Professor Christine Bennett.

A new council of experts has been created to provide expert advice to the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, which began operating at the start of this year. 

The acting Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, announced this week that 10 expert members would be appointed to positions on the new advisory council that last until July 2014.

At its helm will be Professor Christine Bennett, Dean of Medicine at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney. Professor Bennett is also Chair of Research Australia, Chief Medical Officer at health insurer MBF Australia and former Chair of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.

“We are delighted Professor Bennett has agreed to take on this role – her experience in the health sector, her commitment to reform, and her passion for prevention makes her impeccably suited to this role,” Minister Butler said in a statement. “Along with the expertise of the other members of the Council, Professor Bennett will greatly assist the Agency in its establishment phase.” 

The 10 experts will provide advice to the preventive health agency and make recommendations to its chief executive officer, a role currently being performed by Lisa Studdert, former general manager of the Remote Area Health Corps, a government-funded initiative to support short-term placements in health services across the Northern Territory.

“The Advisory Council will help the Agency tackle difficult public health issues focusing initially on obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and other substance abuse,” Minister Butler said. “We want to encourage Australians to think about leading healthier lifestyles such as quitting smoking, eating well, getting active and to reduce harmful alcohol consumption.”

According to the same statement from the Minister’s office, the preventive health agency was established to “support the Council of Australian Governments and the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference in grappling with the increasingly complex challenges associated with preventing chronic disease”.

“It will drive Australia’s prevention agenda by providing evidence-based advice to the Australian Government and to all health ministers and developing national guidelines and standards to guide preventive health activities.”

“The Agency will take responsibility for a number of programs including national social marketing programs relating to tobacco use and obesity and managing a preventive health research fund.”

Tags: christine-bennett, chronic-disease, minister-butler, minister-for-health-and-ageing, minister-for-mental-health-and-ageing, notre-dame-school-of-medicine, preventive-health, preventive-health-agency,

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