We are proud to announce that the Achievement of the Year Award at the Associations Forum National Conference in Canberra this week was awarded jointly to the Australasian Sleep Association and Sleep Health Foundation for successfully advocating for the Federal Government to call a Parliamentary Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness. This is a highly competitive and prestigious award which was accepted on behalf of the two organisations by Stephanie Blower and Helen Burdette.
A key recommendation from the Inquiry was the acknowledgement of sleep as the third pillar of good health, alongside healthy eating and exercise, paving the way for policy development in the area with an avenue to obtain funding.
The commitment and dedication shown by the two volunteer Boards and members of both associations has been outstanding, and everyone involved should be commended for the energy, drive and passion they provided in achieving a successful outcome.
The success should not be underestimated. We are two relatively small associations, with a total combined staff of three FTE’s. We have demonstrated what is possible when two like-minded not-for- profit organisations join together on an important issue.
Having the Federal Government call a Parliamentary Inquiry, seek submissions, hold hearings and table a report was a success, as was the Government’s acknowledgement that good sleep should be considered a national health priority. The next step for our organisations is to encourage the newly re-elected Coalition Government to provide funding for all of the 11 recommendations in its report.
Sleep Health Foundation Mission: to improve people’s lives through better sleep by helping people to understand the value of getting a good night’s sleep.
Australasian Sleep Association Mission: to lead and promote sleep health and sleep science in Australia and New Zealand and to facilitate professional development.
The two organisations have been working closely since 2011 and have achieved a number of major milestones in that time including:
- October 2011 the Foundation published the SHF-Deloitte Access Economics report “Reawakening Australia.”
- June 2013 a Senate Motion unanimously passed which called “on the Government to review the findings of the Foundation's study and consider the inclusion of sleep health issues as part of a broader preventive health strategy”.
- October 2013 ASA and SHF published a supplement in the MJA “Sleep disorders: a practical guide for Australian health care practitioners” educating AMA members on the prevalence and latest treatments for sleep disorders.
- 2014 the Boards of ASA and SHF agreed to join forces to raise awareness of sleep health across all levels of society, amongst politicians, health professionals and the general public. At this time all politicians, State and Federal, were contacted by mail to raise awareness of the two reports.
- March 2014 the SHF and ASA hosted a Parliamentary Symposium in Canberra on “Poor Sleep: A Challenge to National Health, Productivity and Safety.”
- March 2017 Executive Council Australia (ECA) was approached to work with a joint working party from the two organisations. Their initial recommendation was that the group meet with politicians of all sides to educate them on the country’s sleep health issues and to request a Parliamentary Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness.
- August that year the SHF Deloitte Access Economics report “Asleep on the Job” was launched in Parliament House. This showed the annual cost of inadequate sleep to the Australian economy was $66.3 billion.
- March 2018 a range of stakeholders with interests in sleep were invited to a Sleep Summit in Sydney. Twenty-eight people attended representing varied groups, including patient support groups, Government Departments, Associations and Research Groups. A communique was signed by attendees and sent to all federal politicians - the messages:
“Government needs to recognise sleep as the third pillar of health, alongside diet and exercise,” and “A Parliamentary Inquiry was the way to achieve this”.
- September 2018 ASA/SHF conducted a study to objectively measure the sleep behaviours of those working in Parliament House, including Federal politicians, their staff and members of the media. The results showed that on average they slept 6½ hours, comparable to the general public, falling short of the recommended 7–9 hours per night.
- 13 September 2018 the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt announced that the Standing Committee on Aged Care and Sport would inquire into and report on Sleep Health Awareness in Australia.
- February 2019 a pre-Budget submission prepared, including costings for the recommendations put forward by the Summit. Although no funding has been forthcoming to date.
- The report from the Inquiry was tabled on the final sitting day of the 45th Parliament of Australia on 4 April. The recommendations in the report were consistent with the national priorities stated by the ASA and SHF and included calls for targeted funding.
- Next steps for the ASA/SHF to encourage the newly elected Coalition Government to provide funding for all recommendations in the report.
Thank you to the members and stakeholders of both our organisations for their continued encouragement and support.
Dorothy Bruck (Chair SHF) Peter Eastwood (President ASA)