Media releases

January 29, 2015

Australians want more health and wellbeing in schools

The average Australian wants more lessons about health and wellbeing in primary schools to help equip students for adult life according to a national survey.

The recent community perception survey commissioned by Medibank, to coincide with the beginning of the school year, asked Australians questions about children’s learning experiences at school and their expectations about what children should have in their lunchbox.

Healthy diet, exercise and mental health and wellbeing ranked as the top three life lessons for children –from  a list of topics including cyber safety, sex education and religion/cultural difference.

Divisional General Manager of Sales and Service at Medibank, Jason Gowie said that the responses indicated that most people identified the importance of teaching about good health at a grassroots level.

“Building better health outcomes for the future is a goal we all can aim for, and getting children to think about the things they can do to be healthy is a great first step. 

“It is heartening that the Australian population shares a common view when it comes to opportunities for more health and wellbeing in schools,” Mr Gowie said.

“The responses to the survey were consistent across all the demographics of participants of the survey including age, gender, income and whether respondents were parents or not.

In relation to the school lunchbox, fruit was the food that the majority of people (85%) expect to feature daily. This feeling was slightly higher among women (90%) over men (80%), and vegetables and dairy products were also expected to be included in the lunchbox daily by over 50% of respondents.

Money for spending at the cafeteria or tuckshop was something nearly half of the people surveyed felt should happen ‘occasionally’ (45%) although 35% of respondents expected that children might have money to spend at the tuckshop once a week.

Packaged snacks such as chips, chocolate or biscuits were deemed ‘occasional’ foods by 44% of respondents, yet 11% of people thought such foods should ‘never’ be given.

Medibank Community Fund has supported a range of health-related projects in school settings over recent years including a partnership with the hands-on Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program (SAKGP) and community grants to a range of school-based programs.

“It isn’t necessarily a classroom experience that is involved. The contribution of things such as kitchen garden initiatives, school breakfast clubs, extra curricula sport opportunities and raising issues like self-esteem and bullying in a relaxed setting can all help build better health and wellbeing and place children in good stead for the future,” said Mr Gowie. 

Stephanie Alexander, Founder of the SAKGP says the chance to introduce the concept of healthy living to children at a young age and assist them to actively choose to eat well and live well is at the heart of the Program.

 “I believe that it is by including pleasurable food education in every child’s primary years at school, that we will have the best possible chance of positively influencing his or her food habits for life. It is absolutely essential that students enjoy this food education; whether they are digging a hole, managing a wheelbarrow, harvesting basil, making fresh pasta, or offering a leafy ‘salad of the imagination’ to their friends. It is also important that this education integrates with the traditional curriculum objectives including literacy, numeracy, history, science etc.”

The community survey, took in the views of a representative sample of the Australian community (1500 people ranging across all States/Territories, income brackets, age brackets and gender).

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