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2009 Chronic Diseases Network Conference - "Prevention is the Best Medicine"

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The 13th Annual Chronic Diseases Network Conference "Prevention is the Best Medicine" was held on 10th & 11th September 2009 in Darwin. The conference was well attended, attracting over 200 people on each day, was very interactive, had lots of humour, really worked the key note speakers hard with them participating in a number of sessions and the hypothetical panel discussion.

The theme of the 2009 conference - "Prevention is the Best Medicine", reflected the growing recognition that to effectively deal with the epidemic of chronic diseases and their underlying risk factors, efforts must be focussed on prevention.

Chronic diseases present a challenge to all Territorians: government, communities and individuals as well as to the health system. In the Northern Territory (NT) the prevalence of chronic diseases in the non Aboriginal population is increasing at similar rates to the rest of Australia but amongst our Aboriginal population the prevalence is very high. In terms of "Closing the Gap" for Indigenous Australians, 70% of the difference in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians can be attributed to chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases are recognized as a key priority by the Federal Government, NT Government and the NT Department of Health and Families, with significant work being progressed in policy and strategy directions in this field including the reforms identified in the Final Report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission 2009. Other National and NT health reforms also provide many opportunities for improving the prevention and management of chronic conditions.

The keynote speakers for 2009 were:

  • Professor Fran Baum, Professor of Public Health, Flinders University
    "Taking practical action on social determinants of health: closing the gap by 2040"
  • Professor John MacDonald, Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Western Sydney
    "Prevention of chronic disease: insights from the discussion document of the National Men's Health Policy"
  • Dr Jim Dollman, Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia
    "Psychosocial and environmental influences on physical activity behaviours of Australian children"
  • Dr Brian McCoy, NHMRC Fellow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, La Trobe University
    "Indigenous men and chronic disease: can sport become more than a game and a preventative tool?"
  • Dr David Thomas, Indigenous Tobacco Control Research Program, Menzies School of Health Research
    "Improving indigenous tobacco control and reducing indigenous smoking"
  • Ms Beryl Meiklejohn, Lecturer, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology
    "Education and training - a social determinants of health approach - holistic health education and vocational training to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to manage and determine their future"
  • Professor Helen Keleher, Head, Department of Health Social Science, Monash University
    "Turning the key on health literacy to achieve better health outcomes"

The key message about the need to increase and strengthen efforts in the area of prevention was strongly reinforced and acknowledged throughout the presentations. The conference also highlighted that there is still a long way to go in the areas of health equity, empowerment and workforce development.

All keynote speakers and presenters have generously provided their presentations for downloading.

Keynote presentations

Concurrent sessions/Workshop abstracts

Abstracts for each of the concurrent sessions are available from the following link:

2009 NT Chronic Diseases Network Conference Abstracts.pdf

  • A tool for assessing and guiding improvements in health promotion: application in practice
  • Improving the management of chronic disease in the general practice and primary health care setting utilising the collaborative model
    (APCC - Australian Primary Care Collaborative)
  • Indigenous carer education program
  • Familiarity, understanding, competence, evaluating health education
  • Community health literacy: effective indigenous health promotion
  • Interactive Workshop: What to do about managing sugar in the bush
  • Does health promotion need a new suitcase or just a new set of clothes?
  • Program, planning, implementation & evaluation
  • Pharmaceutical care - good medicine made better
  • Building a kidney health program from the ground up
  • The prevention of diabetic foot amputations - can the NT show the world how it can be done?!
  • Interactive Workshop: Identifying real health issues using health impact assessment
  • Integrating SNAPE into primary health care practice
  • Well women's cancer screening: early detection - it is a priority for indigenous women?
  • Heart Foundation Tick - 20 years of preventative health
  • Choice no chance: changing the cancer journey for indigenous people
  • Cooking healthy & physical activity (CHAPA) project
  • 'No Germs on Me' Handwashing Campaign
  • Smoking cessation in aboriginal communities
  • A community-based program to prevent chronic lifestyle-related diseases in Kimberley Aborigines
  • Interactive Workshop: Northern Territory tobacco action plan 2010-2012 - a round table discussion

Please contact the CDN for further contact information. Ph: 08 8922 8280 or [click here to send email]

Many thanks to our 2009 sponsors

Major Sponsor Office for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health - Department of Health & Ageing

Gold Sponsor General Practice Network NT

Silver Sponsor Department of Health & Families, Preventable Chronic Disease Program & Health Promotion Strategy Unit

Bronze Sponsor National Heart Foundation NT

Keynote Speaker Sponsors Australian Health Promotion Association and Department of Health & Families

Satchel Sponsor Healthy Living NT

Lanyard Sponsor Hesta Super Fund - NT Branch

Conference Supporter Bodyfit NT