Statement from Injury Matters relating to the Final Report of the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety

Our position concerning specific findings and recommendations to the Final Report by the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety titled Community safety: for the greater good, but at what cost? released in May 2020.

In response to the Final Report by the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety titled Community safety: for the greater good, but at what cost? released in May 2020, Injury Matters affirms the submission put forth on 5 October 2018 by Injury Matters and its partners.1

Download our Response here.

Below outlines Injury Matters position concerning specific findings and recommendations of the report.

Bicycle Helmets

Injury Matters upholds its position that bicycle helmet laws are of critical importance in the reduction of road trauma and do not impinge upon individuals’ liberties. Therefore, helmets should be enforced for all cyclists, both on and off the road with no exemptions. Evidence demonstrates that not wearing a helmet can be the difference between a minor or fatal head injury.2 A 2017 Australian review assessing bicycle helmet effectiveness found that helmet use reduced the odds of head injuries by 51% and fatal head injuries by 65%.3

Injury Matters supports Findings 2 through 5 of the report.

  • Measures such as improved road infrastructure, lower speed limits and greater driver awareness and education are effective tools to increase cycling participation in Western Australia.
  • Head and neck injuries accounted for 25.9 per cent of the cycling injuries between 1999-00 and 2015-16 (and 48 per cent between 2013-14 and 2015-16). Bicycle helmets are an effective safety measure to decrease the risk of such injuries when cycling.
  • While bicycle helmets are effective for reducing the risk of serious or fatal head injuries, they cannot be relied upon as the only method of protecting cyclists. Governments must also ensure that effective bicycle infrastructure, such as separate shared paths or dedicated bicycle lanes, are part of any cycling policy.
  • While the current legislative regime, that mandates the wearing of bicycle helmets while cycling, restricts personal choice for individuals, this regime is clearly an effective safety measure for the prevention of head and brain injuries.

Injury Matters does not support either of the proposed Recommendations 1 or 2. The recommendation to trial no helmet use at Rottnest Island is unrealistic in nature and is not considerate of potential delays medical treatment. This setting does not offer outcomes that are transferable to a real-world setting where road traffic is present.

E-cigarettes

E-cigarette use poses risk to nicotine poisoning and long-term health consequences. Evidence demonstrates that the effects of nicotine exposure range from being relatively mild, including irritation of the eyes and skin, nausea and vomiting, to severe life-threatening illness, and in some cases, death.4 In July 2018, the Medical Journal of Australia published results that revealed from 2009-2016 there were 200 cases of nicotine related poisonings in Western Australia, of which 40% involved children under 15 years of age.5

Injury Matters maintains its position that efforts should be made to increase public awareness of nicotine toxicity and maintain legislation to restrict access.

Injury Matters does not support Recommendation 3 to lift the prohibition on the sale of e-cigarette devices. Should the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 be amended, then significant regulation would be required to ensure the safety of Western Australians, in particular children and young people.

Safety in water

Injury Matters supports the existing legislation of mandatory pool fencing to prevent toddler drowning. No findings or recommendations were provided in the report relating to pool fencing legislation. Injury Matters maintains the position that mandatory pool fencing should remain legislated in Western Australia in combination with other effective interventions such as public awareness and education when around water. Mandatory pool fencing does not hinder, restrict or impact on pool user wellbeing or enjoyment.

Evidence demonstrates that lifejackets are effective drowning prevention strategies for rivers, adults, older people, young people, weak swimmers and those who fish from rocks or boats.6

Injury Matters reserves comment on Recommendation 10 until the Recreational Vessel Safety Equipment Review is complete.

Injury Matters supports Finding 24 of the report:

  • Mandatory lifejackets may be an appropriate safety measure for areas identified as ‘black spots’, subject to the outcomes of the trial at Salmon Holes.

Concluding comment

The reduction and removal of regulations that safeguard against poor health fail to consider the complexities of society that influence health behaviours. Multiple factors, including individual awareness, knowledge, costs, environmental influences, policy regulations and cultural factors, influence injury prevention and safety promotion decision-making.7

Empowering people to make healthy choices through awareness-raising and education interventions are important approaches, however some health issues must be complemented with policy levers such as infrastructure and legislation to make the healthy choice the easy choice.8

A range of injury prevention interventions are cost-saving in that they cost less to implement then the resource costs they save.9 Injury prevention interventions can therefore represent significant value for money, including bicycle helmets, prohibition of sales of e-cigarette devices and use of lifejackets for safety in water.

Injury Matters continues to support health-driven, evidence-based legislation and policies and supports appropriate legislation and regulations that enable safer people and places, which focus on improving their health by preventing injury.

Injury Matters recommendations in response to the Final Report of the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety are:

  1. Maintain mandatory bicycle helmet legislation in WA.
  2. Maintain current prohibition of e-cigarette devices in WA.
  3. Maintain mandatory pool barrier legislation in WA.

References

  1.  Injury Matters. Injury Matters Submission to the Inquiry on Personal Choice and Community Safety. (2018).
  2.  Gill, T. Bike helmets: an emergency doctor’s perspective. The Conversation (2013).
  3. Ding Yee Lee, J. The epidemiology of severe and fatal injury among Western Australian cyclists: a linked data analysis. (The University of Western Australia, 2017).
  4. Eggleston, W., Nacca, N., Stork, C. M. & Marraffa, J. M. Pediatric death after unintentional exposure to liquid nicotine for an electronic cigarette. Clinical toxicology (Philadelphia, Pa.) 54, 890—891 (2016).
  5. Huynh, A. et al. Retrospective review of Australian PICs data from 2009 to 2016. Patterns of poisoning exposure at different ages. 2015 annual report of the Australian Poisons Information Centres.
  6. Peden, A. E., Demant, D., Hagger, M. S. & Hamilton, K. Personal, social, and environmental factors associated with lifejacket wear in adults and children: A systematic literature review. PLoS One 13, e0196421–e0196421 (2018).
  7. Injury Matters. Intervention components and types. Know Injury https://knowinjury.org.au/learn/interventions/
  8. World Health Organization. Ottawa Charter for Public Health. (1986).
  9. Pacific Institute for Research Evaluation. Injury prevention: What works? A summary of cost-outcome analysis for injury prevention programs (2014 update). https://www.childrenssafetynetwork.org/publications/whatworks2014 (2014).

Australian health and transport experts call for space for safer walking and cycling

Australian health and transport experts have today called on decision makers to enact urgent measures to support safe walking and cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian health and transport experts have today called on decision makers to enact urgent measures to support safe walking and cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading “Australian health and transport experts call for space for safer walking and cycling”

How do we evolve as an injury prevention community?

Written by Rachel Meade, Injury Prevention Manager at Injury Matters.

From the 5-7 November 2018, the 13th World Safety Conference on Injury Prevention was held in Bangkok, Thailand. This event brought  together over a thousand of the world’s leading researchers, practitioners, policy makers and activists to share information and experience on injury prevention. This year’s theme was Advancing Injury And Violence Prevention Towards Sustainable Development Goals.

The juxtaposition of an injury prevention conference with the ever-present challenges of injury in Bangkok were significant. It was eye-opening to see the challenges locals face on a daily basis; while navigating the streets of Bangkok, road safety, burns, falls and electrical hazards were never far from my mind.

The conference highlighted that global progress in injury prevention is too slow, and how we need to look beyond the public health sector for solutions and improvements.

It was the opinion of Professor Adnan Hyder of John Hopkins University that as a community, we need to think of safety as a value if we are to overcome challenges. As public health professionals, we need to look beyond the risk factors for injury and look at the social issues which enable the risk factors to be present.

We need to advocate and be outraged that people are dying and being seriously injured at the rate that they are.

In 2015, 2474 people died from falls in Australia. Where is the outrage at this? If there was a singular event that resulted in that many fatalities there would be significant attention in the media, but because it is individuals and not a collective the attention is not given. Injury is a significant public health priority in Australia and we need to make more noise to bring it to the forefront of the community.

Safety and injury prevention is everyone’s business. We need action across government departments, by NGOs, industry and importantly by community. We need to change our mindset when we think of safety, where it is something we value and think of the whole system to solve the problem.

At the end of the conference five solutions were suggested:

  1. Strengthen government leadership and accountability
  2. Strengthen legislation and regulation
  3. Shaping social norms
  4. Scaling up interventions for injury and violence prevention
  5. Strengthening monitoring and capacities

As a developed nation, Australia is in the fortunate position that we are advanced in some areas where the solutions were placed such as legislation and regulation.

One area where I think we need to focus on is the shaping of social norms, particularly with all forms of interpersonal violence and alcohol; which are supported and enabled through legislation, regulation and leadership.

We need to focus our efforts on the people who need our assistance the most, the vulnerable.

The conference concluded with the reading of the Bangkok statement which can be found on  www.worldsafety2018.org and announced the next conference to be hosted by the Public Health Association of  Australia in Adelaide in November 2020. Perhaps in two years we will see how injury prevention has evolved, shaped by the evidence of what we know works and implementing interventions with the people who are in need.

We’re partnering with the Town of East Fremantle to help residents stay on their feet

The Town of East Fremantle and Injury Matters are joining forces for a six month project to help combat falls amongst older adults living in the local government area. Falls are the leading cause of injury in the Town of East Fremantle, accounting for 463 hospitalisations and 7 fatalities between 2012 and 2016.

Continue reading “We’re partnering with the Town of East Fremantle to help residents stay on their feet”

New resource – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and injury

Know Injury has recently released a new resource regarding the incidence of injury among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The resource outlines a number of statistics including that in WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are hospitalised due to injury 2.5 times more than non-Aboriginal people, with 10,165 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hospitalised due to injury from July 2013 to June 2015.

Click here to access the new resource.

Injury Matters Submission to National Road Safety Strategy Inquiry 2011-2020

On 8 September the Australian Government announced an inquiry in to the national Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020.

Despite efforts to improve road safety and driver behaviour, road fatalities and critical injuries remain a serious problem in Western Australia. The physical impact as well as mental heath outcomes of individuals and communities affected by road crashes can be long lasting. Injury Matters provides much needed high quality mental health support services for people who have been affected by a road trauma through the Road Trauma Support WA service.

Injury Matters’ submission to the inquiry can be read here.

Hospitalisations due to farm injuries in Australia

A recent release by AIHW, Hospitalised farm injury, Australia: 2010-11 to 2014-15, highlights that there were 22,000 hospitalisations in Australia between 2010-11 and 2014-15 due to injuries which occurred on a farm.

Click here to view Know Injury’s blog about the report or access the full AIHW report today.

Closing the Gap 2018

Last week, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull presented the annual Closing the Gap report. This marks 10 years that the framework has been in place and shows how the nation and individual states are progressing against seven targets. The latest data indicates that three of the seven targets are on track to be met. In Western Australia the targets of early childhood education and year 12 or equivalent attainment are on track.

National progress against targets:

  • Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018) – On Track.
  • 95 per cent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education (by 2025) – On Track.
  • Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years (by 2018) – Not On Track.
  • Halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade (by 2018) – Not on Track.
  • Halve the gap for Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 in Year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates (by 2020) – On Track.
  • Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018) – Not on Track.
  • Close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation (by 2031) – Not on Track.

Improving the social determinants of health, such as education and employment will empower communities and improve injury outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. So progress across all targets is critical for improving the incidence and impact of injury among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  communities. Of particular interest to readers though may be the domain of health.

  • Between the periods 2005-2007 and 2010-2012, there was a small reduction in the life expectancy gap of 0.8 years for males and 0.1 years for females.
  • Over the longer term, Indigenous mortality rates have declined significantly by 14 per cent since 1998. However, there has been no improvement since the 2006 baseline and the target is not on track to be met.

To read the full Closing the Gap report click here. To learn more about the social determinants of injury visit Know Injury.

 

Injury prevention programs showcased at awards ceremony

The 2017 Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Awards have been announced with this year’s winners delivering programs that have helped prevent and raise awareness of injury prevention in WA.

The awards ceremony was held yesterday at the Parmelia Hilton in Perth.
This year’s winners were the Royal Life Saving Society WA, Curtin University School of Public Health, City of Bunbury and Shire of Dardanup in partnership with South West and Peel Local Governments, Northam Roadwise Committee and the School Drug Education Road Aware (SDERA).

The Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools Program (RASP) managed by the Royal Life Saving Society WA, won their award for their program to reduce drowning and aquatic injury and other health related issues in Aboriginal communities.

Curtin University’s entry, a new study conducted by the School of Public Health estimates the incidence and cost of injury in Western Australia and will inform government and non-government programs, policies and services in the future.

The M8 the call can W8 campaign by the City of Bunbury and the Shire of Dardanup developed in 2014 aimed to educate and remind drivers that the use of mobile phones while driving was a major distraction.

The Northam Roadwise Committee developed an Easter campaign in response to the high rates of hospitalisation and deaths from road trauma in the Wheatbelt.

Working with over 120 schools across WA, SDERA’s Changing Health Acting Together (CHAT) provided education and intervention resources that aim to reduce harm from drug use and road-related injuries in young people.

Highly commended nominations were presented to Holyoake, Kidsafe WA, the Public Transport Authority and Royal Perth Hospital.

Injury Matters CEO Sandy Lukjanowski said the acknowledgement of these programs showcased the amazing work being performed by both large organisations and small community outreach groups.

“This year’s awards has attracted a high calibre of nominations, showing us the diverse range of injury prevention work taking place in the state,” she said.

“With the total cost of injury events costing our national economy nearly $10 billion a year, these programs and initiatives are highlighting a much needed area in WA health.”

The biennial awards ceremony, hosted by Injury Matters, started in 2002 to celebrate injury prevention and safety promotion in WA and recognise the action and excellence of those working to prevent injury and promote safety in Western Australia.