Health advocates unite to promote self-care in health policy and practice

A year after the release of the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy’s landmark report, Self-care for health: a national policy blueprint, self-care in Australia takes its next step forward. Today, healthcare consumers, health promotion charities, policy experts, and industry partners have united to formally launch the Australian Self-Care Alliance.

A recognised health promotion charity, the Alliance was formed to support and promote the adoption of self-care and its implementation as a core element of all aspects of physical and mental health services and policies for Australia.

Self-care describes the role, and ability, of individuals, families, and communities to promote and maintain health, prevent disease and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.

While the term ‘self-care’ implies a focus on actions of individuals, governments and policymakers play a major role in creating environments that either inhibit or enable self-care.

Professor Rosemary Calder AM, public health policy expert and advisor to the Alliance, explains

“COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated how, by empowering individuals with an understanding of how to prevent illness or infection and engaging them as equal partners in their own health management, we can reduce preventable health problems.”
“Despite this, there is currently limited attention to self-care in Australian health policy and healthcare practices and policy discussions often do not acknowledge how people care or could care for themselves.”
“As national strategies for primary care, preventive health and digital health are being shaped and implemented, this is a timely opportunity to acknowledge and cement self-care’s crucial place in health policy and practice.”
When launching the Self-care for health: a national policy blueprint, which outlines a suite of evidence-based, feasible policy proposals to support self-care through health policy and practice, Health Minister Hon Greg Hunt MP, remarked that “self-care is the key to effective prevention”

Australian Self-Care Alliance Chair, John Bell AM, explains why now is the time for a systematic approach to support greater self-care.

“There is good evidence that responsible self-care improves individual health outcomes and contributes towards creating a sustainable healthcare system. However, our current health and care services are geared to primarily engage individuals when they are already unwell with preventable conditions, rather than incentivising practice models that help people to be healthier and to avoid preventable health risks and conditions.”
“Encouraging individuals to take greater responsibility for health outcomes, in the context of a system structured to support greater self-care, could be a defining characteristic of Australia’s health and care systems, services, and supports.”
“The Australian Self-Care Alliance represents a coalition of health advocates, practitioners, and experts who agree that health and health care should be regarded as co-produced by health professionals with individuals and communities, and greater self-care is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

The composition of the Board reflects the broad diversity of groups and organisations that seek to embed self-care in national health and care sector policy. It includes:

  • John Bell AM, Chair – Pharmacist Practitioner/Teacher, Graduate School of Health, University of Technology Sydney
  • Professor Sharon Lawn – Executive Director, Lived Experience Australia and Professor in the College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University
  • Russell McGowan – Health Care Consumer Advocate
  • Michele Goldman – CEO, Asthma Australia
  • Dr Stephen Carbone – Founder and Executive Director, Prevention United
  • Karen Booth – President, Australian Primary Care Nurses Association
  • Dr John Litt AM – Associate Professor, Flinders University
  • Dr Kathleen Weaver – Co-CEO, Flip Insurance (a subsidiary of HCF Health)
  • Dr Deon Schoombie – CEO, Consumer Healthcare Products Australia

Read more information about the Australian Self-Care Alliance

Media Contact:
Randall Pearce, Public Officer, Ph 0404 107 779

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