Improve the National Wellbeing Index with Corporate Health Programs February 14th, 2011, by Ken Buckley

There’s no doubt that here is Australia we do health and wellbeing really well. With our wide open spaces, wonderful climate, passion for physical sport and abundance of fresh food we are well placed to be one of the healthiest nations in the world and for the most part we have lived up to these wonderful expectations.

At some point though, the downsides of modernisation start to creep in, and with unhealthy convenience foods on the rise and long working days leaving little time to be active, our lifestyles are beginning to suffer and with it our national health.

Obesity, as we often discuss, is on the rise in Australia and so are diseases such as diabetes that go along with it. So how can we preserve our good health as Australians and what role can corporate health programs play?

Australian Unity in partnership with the Australian Centre on Quality of Life at Deakin University has created a National Wellbeing Index that regularly measures the quality of life of Australian people. Of their recommendations for improving wellbeing across the country, looking after health is number one on the list and they make several key recommendations including a balanced diet, daily activity, regular medical check-ups and a favourable work-life balance.

While most studies and discussions surrounding workplace health programs relate directly to improvements in productivity and operational costs for businesses, the potential to improve national health and reduce the burden on the Australian public health and hospital system is equally significant. Employee health body HAPIA (The Health and Productivity Institute of Australia) has been campaigning for a shift in Federal Government health spending toward corporate programs that would detect and prevent many of the chronic health conditions affecting Australians due to poor lifestyle habits.

Chairman of HAPIA, Dr John Lang has been quoted as saying that “the workplace is a proven environment in which to detect and reduce chronic disease risks, potentially saving tens of billions of dollars annually… Nationwide 1500 corporate and government employers offer health risk assessments and interventions for about 400 000 or 4% of employees, but there is an opportunity for all Australian workers to benefit from workplace screening programs with the right support from Government”.

Dr Lang suggests a range of government initiatives to support workplace health programs including direct grants to employers such as the Victorian Government’s WorkSafe scheme which aims to lower state health care costs by providing grants for workplace health checks and tailored health promotion programs.

It’s a win-win not just for organisations but for the wider community as well, and a smart way to preserve our national wellbeing and our reputation as “the lucky country”.

For more information on Corporate Health Programs, contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post953” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives

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