Preventative and community health

The interest of the Royal Society of Queensland in community health dates back to the foundation of its predecessor Philosophical Society of Queensland in 1859. The first paper in the Transactions was on  asphyxia, the second on ventilation of buildings. Other early papers covered public sanitation and the water supply for Brisbane. The scope of the Society’s activities has always been the gathering of evidence-led knowledge and application of scientific method, tools that are central to the challenges facing community health.

Chronic disease: Prevention or patch-up?

Which preconditions of good health or ill health are most fundamental and most ripe for remedial investment? Is smoking, poor diet, parasite load, socio-economic disadvantage, discrimination, poor education or lack of exercise most likely to influence health at population scale? Which investments in health work best and what are the relative costs of not making them?

A forum aiming to bridge science and policy in preventative health was held in Brisbane on 26 March 2018. It was sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global professional services firm having the purpose of building trust in society and solving important problems.

The preparatory flyer describes the venue and logistics. All attendees are encouraged to complete an evaluation form.



Keynote presenter was Professor Robyn McDermott MBBS, MPH, PhD, FAFPHM, Professor of Public Health Medicine, Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University Cairns.

Four discussants opened a roundtable session:

Reference materials

The attendees agreed that a submission should be made to the Queensland Government presenting an evidence-based model for minimising chronic disease. Source materials for use in compiling this submission will be  added here progressively.

The Australian Health Prevention Centre has provided a list of relevant source materials .

Community health – Cairns May 2016

A KEEN AUDIENCE of practitioners and experts in community health gathered in Cairns on 30 May to debate where investment in health should be directed to add the greatest value.

The audience heard that children who consume sweet drinks program their bodies towards lifelong obesity, type II diabetes and a range of other chronic disorders.

After five most excellent presentations and a roundtable debate, a strong consensus emerged that a sugar levy should be placed upon sugary soft drinks and fruit juices, with the revenue to be spent on personalised health education.

The culprits are not just sugar-laden soft drinks, but also cordials, fruit juices and junk foods generally. The human body is not by nature adapted to digesting refined sugar: in traditional life, sweets such as honey would have been a rare treat, not a daily substitute for meals.

Presentations and other papers arising from the event:

Where are we spending vs where we need to spend to improve health? Prof Robyn McDermott.

Peripheral artery disease and exercise. Dr Jonathan Golledge.

A cross-portfolio view of health. Dr Emily Callander. (The slides are accompanied by narration).

The event was generously sponsored by the Australian Institute for Tropical Health and Medicine. The proposal for a sugar levy is not necessarily endorsed by the Society or the Institute.

The Royal Society delivered a summary of the presentations and findings to the Queensland Government.