Statement on Indigenous Health

tour_da_country.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:48): Deputy Speaker, congratulations on your elevation. One of my first acts on being re-elected as the member for Throsby was to participate in the second annual Tour da Country, which is a two-week-long bike ride organised by Illawarra Aboriginal health workers Shane Venables and Ben Russell, who are also members of the Koori Men's Support Group, in my electorate of Throsby. They are part of a 13-rider team that completed a gruelling 12-day, 900-kilometre route from Albion Park, in the Illawarra, down to Albury to raise awareness and promote healthier lifestyles in Aboriginal communities.

It is an unfortunate reality that Indigenous Australians suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease at a higher rate than the rest of the population. These guys come from communities and they have seen the damaging effects firsthand and wanted to do something about closing the gap. The aim of the ride was to encourage their mates to make small changes, like walking an extra 10 minutes a day, eating less junk food, quitting the smokes or getting a health check. These are changes that in the long run will make a big difference to their overall health.

The best thing about this initiative is that it is not old men in lab coats lecturing them about how they should live; it is their brothers, cousins and mates providing peer support and being mentors. It is a great initiative. I congratulate all of the organisers and participants and I wish them well in their future endeavours.