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A Healthy Society

By Nick Chapman, Independent NSW candidate for the Australian Senate

Our lives revolve around our relationships with partners, family, friends and colleagues.

Relationships are the cornerstone of strong communities. They ensure that we support each other and that we are not alone. Most of all these relationships allow us to connect with others – a very strong human need – and to enjoy ourselves!

For me personally, my family is very important to me and my first priority.

Despite the importance of relationships our current political environment seems endlessly focussed on jobs and money. Jobs allow us to contribute to society, enable self worth and are sometimes even enjoyable! And money is obviously vital for providing food, shelter, and clothing; and gives us the opportunity to do the things we enjoy. But for most of us jobs and money is not our sole reason for living. While we may enjoy our work – most of us love our relationships, social activities, and hobbies. At the core of this is the human need for connection, freedom, and fun!

In the media we often hear stories such as “depression costs the economy $8 billion”. Really, the cost is damage to people’s health, self esteem and their relationships. These are the true costs and what most of us really care about. Why does our society need a dollar value on something to give it worth? Surely human impacts should be our first priority.

Obviously governments need to manage the national finances and adjust policy to encourage job creation – that is a given and a very important government function.

Australia went through an economic re-making over the last 30 years and the nation has reaped the financial benefits. Our focus should now be on well-being so we can reap the societal benefits, and increase health and happiness as well as wealth.

I am not proposing any specific policy here, it is more about our collective attitude and outlook. I think as a highly advanced wealthy nation it is time for us to focus on building a healthy society not just a strong economy.

We need cultural change to create an environment where well-being is a focus as well as economics.

This requires leaders to make well-being a priority in the way they talk and act. Politicians have the power to influence our thinking and the direction of the nation. As a community we need to change our collective focus. Business also has a part to play and many forward-looking businesses already have policies that encourage a work-life balance.

This cultural change would encourage individuals to make decisions prioritising well-being such as choosing social time instead of overtime, working in the jobs we like not the ones that pay the most, keeping ourselves fit, caring for our social and physical environment, and engaging positively with our local communities.

Having our leaders create a cultural of support for well-being, and appropriate policy, will make it easier to make these choices.

Attitudes to drink driving are an example of recent cultural change. Drink driving is now seen as poor behaviour by the majority, whereas it was widely accepted behaviour in the past. What is key are people’s perceptions and individual beliefs not just government policy.

In the short-term there are areas we can address to help increase national well-being:

  • Housing affordability. Expensive housing adds considerable pressure to earn more money and can force people to move away from their local communities. Making negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax fairer can help to moderate home prices and reduce financial stress (more on this in the next few days).
  • Focus the $70B federal health budget on a comprehensive preventative health program helping people to keep fit and healthy.

Example initiatives could be:

  • Holistic health checks conducted by a multi-disciplinary teams to identify potential health problems and the root case of current issues, extensive public education programs on healthy lifestyles and mental health (think how much smoking campaigns have helped reduced smoking), and short-term subsidies of sporting activities.
  • Reduction of health over-servicing and over-medicalisation. Investigation and acceleration of new, active and alternative health treatments, and increased support for in-home care and self-care.
  • Better school education on well-being including psychology and mental health to give children the skills to understand their health and warning signs.
  • Support for healthier food industries such as short-term incentives for natural food products (also a big market for the Asian middle classes).
  • Continue to have fresh food GST-free.
  • Incentives for clean energy to reduce the effects of pollution and climate change.
  • Volunteering as part of the school curriculum to increase community interaction and ties.

These polices would make a contribution to the well-being of society.

But ultimately, it comes down to our collective attitude to well-being. Leaders need to lead us in the right direction. And individuals need to take responsibility for the well-being of ourselves, those close to us, and our communities.

About Nick Chapman: Nick is a consultant whose experience includes working in Canada and the UK. Nick values freedom, respect, integrity and innovation and believes in policies that benefit society as a whole. Nick stands for:

• A fair economy for a healthy society

• An independent check on government power

• Individual freedom and individual responsibility

• Political transparency

Find out more at

Also by Nick Chapman: Political transparency


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  1. Salstarat

    This article certainly puts a focus on the cold blooded callousness of the LNP – a party that knows the cost of everything and the real value of nothing! Their absolute obsession with profit and the manner in which they worship at the altar of mindless rapacity has diminished their compassion and has reduced their level of humanity to the most rudimentary level of callousness!

  2. FreeThinker

    Thanks Nick Chapman for your thoughtful article, and I wish you the best of fortune in your Senate quest.

    While many Australians are seeing through the Abbott-esque ‘ Jobs and Growth ‘ mantra, this three word slogan nonetheless, deserves analysis.

    As the incessant LNP propaganda asserts, Australia is not so much a society or a national community, but is essentially, an economy. Economies, so this narrow-band ideology proports, are framed around ‘ jobs and (economic ) growth, while structural or rampantly growing inequities among the people who make up an economy are not something we should worry too much about. ( After all, security corporations and private prison growth can be counted as important components in private sector led growth in the Liberal view).

    The health of a nation’s people, how it educates all its people, it’s relationship with its ecology and natural resources, issues of fairness, equality, justice and reciprocity among its people, are all matters of lesser importance to ‘ the economy’ as the LNP way of seeing the world from which the mantra ‘ Jobs and Growth’ so organically springs.

    And as Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer so quaintly put it, on the ABC’ s Q&A program a couple of weeks back, in response to citizen questioner Duncan Storer, responsible economic governance is essentially about ‘growing the (economic) pie’ in a nation. Some benefits of this she assumed, would eventually efficiently trickle down to mere mortals such as Duncan, after the needs of the private sector has been met.

    After all there is something of a revolving door in this country, between retiring politicians and the corporate world. Despite their very healthy remuneration while in office as compared to average weekly earnings, politician salaries and their associated benefits seem ‘pauperised’ by the largesse feted upon senior executives in the corporate world. Thus looking after the ‘corporate world ‘ becomes a priority for many LNP politicians, as being a parliamentarian is only a stepping stone to a life where they can grow their very own economic pie portfolio, more rapidly. Sadly, in recent years, some former Labor politicians have been adopting a similar value stance.

    Thus, embedded in a Social Darwinist way of seeing the world, ‘ Jobs and Growth’ becomes oddly enough, an ‘honest slogan ‘ for the contemporary Liberal Party.

    For in a political party that privileges and fetishises ‘ the individual ‘ at the expense of all else, as the fulcrum driving force behind economic and therefore societal success, this Jobs and Growth slogan also offers hope for Liberal parliamentarians in their quest to maintain a laissez-faire ‘free market’ to be able to move on to richer pathways, after their parliamentary careers.

    So from the Liberal perspective, ‘Jobs and Growth’ is essentially about ‘Us’ ( the deserving) and ‘Them’ (the much less deserving and the undeserving).

    Essentially ‘Jobs’ and Growth’ is a plea mantra for maintaining the status quo so that conservative politicians can continue to feed off the public purse longer, while simultaneously seeking to insure and maximise their deserved entitlement rewards post-parliament, but in the private sector

    Thus growing the private sector ( including public sector debt), and keeping the big end of town’s shareholders happy, while pathologising public sector debt is the NLP’s core business. Furthermore, privatising successful public utilities, and in so.doing, helping to expand a bit more the private sector albeit in a lazy and parasitic way, is all central components of this ‘ Jobs and Growth’ mantra.

    Whither the public good !

    Drip. ….. Drip …….. Drip ……………. Drip …………………………..Drip ……………………………………………………….Drip !

  3. Denise Thompson

    Unfortunately, it’s the neo-liberal ‘economic re-making over the last 30 years’ that’s the cause of the problems we have now. It isn’t the whole nation that has ‘reaped the financial benefits’, only the rich.

  4. Jack

    I just watched Turnball again on TV with his lovely Blue Jumper on with the sound off. It’s riveting to watch a lying bullshit artist at work. He now seems much more comfortable when he’s attacking the opposition and he’s comfortable talking about racism or soft esoteric subjects. But watch his eyes dart around and his general body language twist and shout when he tries to talk about economical matters. What a pathetic Waffler of a man. I will leave the country if he gets in.

  5. Vixstar

    To read anyhing in the papers drives you insane with the biased reporting but getting home from work and reading articles here from like minded people sets my mind at ease, knowing that I am not the only one desperate for a good govenment to lead us, Labor has great policies and the team they the best ,sticking to our ideals and beliefs. Bill is a true champion for the people, this is what keeps me healthy knowing we are all on the same path to a better future with a great foundation of true warriors.
    Just picking the song now that I will be singing when we arrive at that destination. ………………. we are the champions …….. no time for losers……………yep that one.

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