Rising rates of overweight and obesity around Australia has led several State governments to implement policies that aim to create healthier environments, particularly those that protect children from exposure to junk food marketing. In Western Australia, the WA Preventive Health Summit Summary Report and the Final Report of the WA Sustainable Health Review supported banning unhealthy advertising on state-owned property. An advocacy policy campaign led by Cancer Council WA and the Telethon Kids Institute aimed to raise awareness of the urgency of this recommendation. Prior to the 2021 State election, the Health Minister announced that if re-elected he would establish a cross-government implementation taskforce on this policy.
Process and Analysis
In 2019, Cancer Council WA and the Telethon Kids Institute, through funding from Healthway, established a partnership to build the evidence and community support for the ban of unhealthy products on government assets. Several rapid, policy-relevant research projects and reports were commissioned which quantified the amount of unhealthy advertising around schools and evaluated similar policies in other jurisdictions, providing robust evidence to counter industry arguments to such a policy. The research led to the development of a Joint Statement signed by leading health and medical agencies in WA, a policy brief provided to key Government departments, and a paid advertising campaign to garner community support - all contributing to a groundswell of pressure on the government to announce a ban.
The presentation will provide an overview of how rapid policy-informed research and a well-planned advocacy strategy can be used by non-government coalitions to counter industry arguments, develop policy recommendations and increase political pressure on governments to implement policies to protect children from unhealthy marketing. It will also present considerations for decision makers to ensure WA implements a robust policy, which is protect from industry tactics.