The good news is that between 2008 and 2018, the proportion of ACT children aged 5- 17 years who usually walked or cycled to school increased from 28% to 40%. However, only one in five (22%) are meeting the physical activity guideline for children of 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day (CHOR 2020). This poses a very real and serious threat to their long-term health and quality of life.
Over the past 10 years, the proportion of ACT Children (aged 5-17) consuming sugar-sweetened drinks daily has dropped from 22% in 2008 to 8% in 2018. In the ACT, more than three quarters of children aged 2-17 years (73%) are meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended daily serves of fruit BUT the proportion of children meeting the guidelines for vegetable intake remains low – with less than 4% of children. (CHOR 2020)
There are many different health conditions that require ongoing management and support. For example asthma, anaphylaxis, diabetes and epilepsy, all require specific medical action plans and management, which schools should adhere to when children with these conditions are enrolled. More than 460,000 Australians under the age of 14 have asthma (ABS 2018) and 66% of these young people have a written Asthma Action Plan (Aust Gov, 2020).
Good mental health is vital for life. Children and teenagers who are mentally healthy are better able to meet life’s challenges and have stronger relationships with the people around them. They are also better learners who are more likely to succeed at school. Good mental health in childhood and across the school years provides a solid basis for managing changes as they grow.
Learning how to stay safe in our community is an imperative part of every child’s education. From the schoolyard to the weekend there are a variety of every-day risk factors and situations we should be alerting our students to. By teaching students safe behaviours and habits early on in life and by leading by example, we can help make a difference to figures like this ....eleven per cent of people aged 16 to 24 reported being a current user of e-cigarettes, or “vapes” - more than double the number in 2020 (NSW Population Health Survey 2021).
Continuing professional learning is an integral part of teacher development. Teachers, like other professionals, make a career-long commitment to learn new skills, explore new ideas and build knowledge, all for the benefit of their students. All ACT teachers must complete a minimum of 20 hours professional learning each year to maintain their registration. The ACT requirement mirrors provisions for maintaining teacher registration across Australia (ACT TQI website).