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Health of the nation

Features — Posted 23/09/13

Health industry leaders offer their thoughts on the health of Australia, today and into the future.

Health in Australia has many faces. Organisations big and small share the common objective of improving the health of Australia and planning for the health needs of the future.

Our spring health feature explores the health of the nation from the perspective of six leaders from six Australian health organisations. Examining what opportunities and challenges are impacting the health of Australia and exploring the way each organisation is contributing to improvements in health is a key focus. We also ask what issues each individual would tackle if made Prime Minister for a day.

In their respective roles these six leaders attend global conferences, providing insight into worldwide health trends that may impact the future health of Australia. We also asked them to share the strongest message they took away from a recent event.

Here are the six individuals we have interviewed in our health feature.

George Savvides, Managing Director, Medibank

George Savvides took on the role of Managing Director of Medibank in 2002. With over twenty years’ experience in the Australian health care industry, George has a wealth of knowledge in health care reform and discusses how we can tackle the growing costs of health care by shifting from a random to a coordinated approach.

Professor Manny Noakes, Research Scientist, CSIRO

We interviewed Professor Manny Noakes, an expert in diet, nutrition and health and author of over 100 published scientific papers. Manny led the research team that developed CSIRO’s Total Wellbeing Diet and is a strong advocate for the role diet and lifestyle can play in reducing health costs.

Dr Steve Hambleton, President, Australian Medical Association

Dr Steve Hambleton was elected Federal President of the AMA in May 2011. Working at the same General Practice in Brisbane since 1988, Steve strongly believes in the role of the GP as the cornerstone of primary care. Discussing this theme in his interview, he advocates for lifestyle change and asserts that a preventative team led by a GP can make a huge difference.

Jerril Rechter, CEO, VicHealth

As CEO of VicHealth, Jerril Rechter is responsible for overseeing the health promotion work carried out by the organisation. With previous roles at Footscray Community Arts Centre and Stompin Dance Company, Jerril discusses the health improvements derived from giving back to the community. Tapping into the way people receive information, Jerril sees health promotion moving further into the digital space.

Professor Warwick Anderson, CEO, National Health and Medical Research Council

Supporting health and medical research is one of the key functions of the NHMRC. As CEO, Professor Warwick Anderson is acutely aware of the importance of bringing science into health and strongly believes in the role research evidence will play in the decision making of the future.

Janina Nearn, CEO and Co-Founder, R U OK? Foundation

Co-Founder of the R U OK? Foundation, Janina Nearn comes from a background of producing and reporting for television. The R U OK? Foundation is dedicated to encouraging people to support those around them who may be struggling with life. In her interview Janina outlines how mental health is a huge challenge for health in Australia.

Throughout our discussions there were many common themes around the complexities of health, the need to focus on primary health and the growing burden of chronic and lifestyle disease. While these themes loom large on our horizon, what is encouraging is the strength, experience and capability shared between six individuals striving for reform and improvement in the health of our nation.

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