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Rising SA health inequities need urgent attention in the era of COVID-19

SA deemed “Heaps Unfair” when it comes to health according to new report.

What: “SA: The Heaps Unfair State” Report Launch and Twitter Festival
Who: Professor Fran Baum, Mr Ross Womersley, Professor Ron Labonte
Time: 11am, Friday 27 March
Follow on: #SAHeapsUnfair and these twitter handles @CroakeyNews @SACOSS @baumfran @RossWomersley @MelissaSweetDr @drtobyfreeman @ConMarguerite @TessRyan1 @mariemcinerney

The escalating COVID-19 crisis will widen the gulf between people with and without secure income – which is producing increasing inequities in health outcomes for South Australians, according to a powerful new report launched online today.
SA: The Heaps Unfair State report - produced by the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University and the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) - provides evidence that shows a significant increase in inequities in South Australia since the 1980s and also recommends how to improve this state’s health outcomes.
“The Heaps Unfair report shows that a state which has previously done comparatively well in reducing inequities can quickly slide backwards,” says Professor Fran Baum, Director of the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University. “An escalating divide shows an increasing number of South Australians experiencing economic and social exclusion.”
Mr Womersley, CEO of SACOSS, says: “This research has supplied us with data to support what we see evidenced in people’s lives – if you’re poor economically, you are at an increased risk of poor health outcomes.”
The report’s authors, including academics and leaders from the social service sector, say the rise is best captured in premature mortality rates that differ according to socioeconomic status.
“What seems, at first, to be a health service issue is inexorably tied to a range of other social conditions that arise with a tightening economy, increased income insecurity, lack of stable employment, poor quality housing, insufficient income support and frequently being unable to find enough stable employment,” says Mr Womersley.
“The impact of de-industrialisation on the South Australian economy and manufacturing industries, coupled with worrying trends in employment and income stability has resulted in a sharp rise in the numbers of economically disadvantaged people and children living in poverty,” says Professor Baum.
Beyond making a call to the South Australian and Federal Government to revise policy and implement changes, the report’s raft of almost 40 recommendations stretches across the fiscal, education, energy, health, public service, social security, housing, digital, employment, NGO, rural and regional sectors.
The report signals that a holistic approach, addressing the social determinants of health, is necessary if the existing problems are going to be effectively changed.
“Our work has identified that much more store is put on economic growth and much less on developing community solidarity and on achieving social justice as a policy goal in South Australia,” says Professor Baum.
The recommendations to redress this state’s health inequities, as outlined in the report, require swift action – particularly in such daunting times.
“There are many things we can do to increase health equity. We’ve learnt what not to do – it’s time to learn from those mistakes and embrace the idea of a ‘fair-go’ to extend to our health systems,” says Mr Womersley.
“Our recommendations are made in the hope that they will inform a determination to make South Australia ‘heaps’ more equal, and the recommendations are even more pressing in light of the COVID-19 crisis,” says Professor Baum.


Find the summary, full and statistical reports here. For more on the report launch and twitter festival go here.


Key media contacts:
Name: Professor Fran Baum, Director, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University
Tel: +61 8 7221 8410 Mob: +61 412 354 598 fran.baum@flinders.edu.au @baumfran
Name: Ross Womersley, CEO, SACOSS @RossWomersley
Mob: +61 418 805 426 Twitter: ross@sacoss.org.au
Name: Tania Bawden, Media Adviser, Flinders University
Tel: +61 8 8201 5768 Mob: +61 434 101 516  tania.bawden@flinders.edu.au
Name: Caryn Rogers, Communications Coordinator, SACOSS
Mob: +61 420 750 344 caryn@sacoss.org.au Twitter: @SACOSS

Published Date: 
Thursday, 26 March 2020