The importance of active cities

The Australian sporting and active lifestyle goods industry is calling on the NSW state government to include ‘health and wellbeing’ as objectives in proposed changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Executive director of the Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA), Shannon Walker, said “Our members understand that it is easier for individuals to achieve their health and physical activity goals if the infrastructure surrounding them facilitates movement and exercise.”

“Given the Act is the cornerstone of how towns and cities are planned for the future in NSW, we’re concerned the proposed amendments do not contain an explicit reference to ‘health and wellbeing’. This is despite the fact there is ample evidence from around the world that the planning system has a significant role to play in supporting healthy outcomes for residents.”

Australia, like much of the rest of the developed world, is facing a physical inactivity crisis. Obesity has risen to record highs, with over 65 per cent of adults classified as being overweight or obese. One in five Australian adults has cardio vascular disease. Over 25 per cent of 5-17 year old’s are overweight or obese.

Physical inactivity contributes 6.6 per cent of the overall health burden in Australia and 10 per cent of all deaths.

Research from around the world has shown cities that encourage physical activity have better health and economic outcomes for their residents. For example, consistent stair use can be linked to a 12 to 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality, including reductions in cardiovascular disease. Other studies have found that redeveloping business areas to promote mixed use and walkability increased employment by 300 percent.

The Australian sporting and active lifestyle goods sector has a vested interest in promoting a healthy and active community. Physically active Australians not only improve their own health through sport and exercise, they also improve their communities and contribute to the economy through increased spending and lower health costs.

“The NSW planning system has an important role to play in ensuring our cities are liveable and have a healthy design built into them from the start.”

“We strongly encourage the NSW Government to adopt new amendments that include explicit references to ‘health and wellbeing’ in the Objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979,” Mr Walker said.

The Australian Sporting Goods Association was formed in 1981 as the industry association representing a broad spectrum of sporting and active lifestyle goods industry participants, including manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers.

ASGA is a leading industry voice on issues impacting the health, trade, regulation and taxation of the sporting and active lifestyle industries. ASGA aims to foster market growth, provide services and advocate for increased participation in sport and physical activity.

The ASGA submission can be found on our website.