We need better measures to improve the health and wellbeing of all of us. Preventive measures will help people live long and healthy lives regardless of their income or postcode.
Free School Lunches
In a wealthy state like South Australia no child should go hungry, but thousands of South Australian kids are living in poverty. Kids who don’t have lunch or breakfast find it much harder to concentrate, socialise and learn, with worse educational outcomes as a result.
I’ve called on the State Government to introduce a universal, free school breakfast and lunch program in every state primary and secondary school in South Australia funded by a levy on the major banks. This would reduce pressure on parents, improve educational outcomes and ensure that every South Australian child has access to healthy, nutritious food and can realise their full potential in the classroom. You can read more here and here.
Schools provide lunches in Japan, Norway, and France – why not here in SA?
Decades of successive Government failure to invest in healthcare means our emergency departments are regularly overwhelmed. We know that there are many strategies for ending ramping in our state, and we must act with urgency to protect our community and our health workers.
I’ve introduced a bill to legislate targets for ambulance response times based on the KPIs in the South Australian Ambulance Service’s Annual Report and require the Government to report against these. Transparency and accountability are desperately needed if we are to get our health system back on track. You can watch my speech introducing the bill here.
I've also called for the Government to employ 200 new GPs to provide free consults to people with a health care card and establish special ‘transit wards’ to speed up the transfer of patients from ambulances, paid for by axing the subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. You can read more about my plan here.
Cracking Down on Junk Food Advertising
Junk food has a terrible impact on community health. Obesity is becoming a growing issue among young people and junk food advertising pitches parents in a David and Goliath fight – where they are competing with multi-million-dollar corporations who are intent on selling products to their children. Junk food advertisers shouldn’t be able to spruik their wares on public property. I introduced a bill to ban junk food advertising within 500 metres of SA schools, on bus stops and railway stations and other public property. You can watch my speech introducing the bill here.
The Government has indicated that it will be moving to establish a working group involving Health and Transport to consider the issue, and we’ll continue to pressure the Government to crack down on junk food advertising to our kids.
When young people have access to pill testing services they’re much less likely to take drugs, or be at risk of overdose. Unfortunately, South Australia is falling behind when it comes to adopting a sensible, harm minimisation approach to drugs. I've called for the State Government to follow the example of ACT and trial pop up pill testing at SA music festivals. Analysing and testing drugs on site in this way will save many lives
Free Flu Vaccines
While many workplaces make the flu vaccine available and it is free for some vulnerable groups, we can’t risk South Australian’s falling through the cracks. I’ve called on the State Government to follow the example of Queensland and make the flu vaccine free and available to everyone via their GP or pharmacy. This is a practical and straightforward measure that will save lives, keep more people healthy and lessen the burden on our health system.
COVID Response Accountability and Transparency
In 2022 I successfully negotiated the creation of the COVID-19 Direction Accountability and Oversight Committee. This is an important transparency and accountability measure that allows for the parliament to consider and carefully scrutinise COVID directions relating to close contacts and COVID-19 positive people, safeguarding individual rights in our fight against the pandemic. Importantly, it’s legislated that this committee isn’t controlled by the Government, ensuring genuinely independent oversight. You can watch my speech here.
Supporting Our Healthcare Workers
After years of COVID, our health system is at breaking point. Frontline health workers have been doing the heavy lifting, but South Australia is failing to match the efforts of other states when it comes to strategies to retain and recruit healthcare workers.
I’ve called for free nursing and midwifery degrees to encourage more people into these professions at a time when they are desperately needed. I’ve also urged the State Government to follow the example of NSW and Victoria and provide a $3000 thank you payment to health workers to recognise their efforts during the pandemic.
In 2022 the Greens secured an important win by working with the Government to pass a bill to provide of heavily discounted car parking and free public transport for hospital workers. You can read more here.