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Australia Lagging in Getting our Children Active
Media > Australia Lagging in Getting our Children Active
Australia is Lagging in Getting our Children Active
More than 300,000 British school children will learn to cycle safely, competently and confidently on the road over the next three years, thanks to nearly £35m ($54m AUD) of funding by the UK Department of Transport allocated this month.
The unprecedented investment follows a recent report, which showed that where there is a longer history of delivering cycling training a high proportion of children are cycling to secondary school, locking in the benefits of bicycling for children in the UK.
Here in Australia there is a growing concern where recent trends show child participation in cycling is down from 73% in 2006 to 66% in 2009.
A national survey conducted by the Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF) and the National Heart Foundation of Australia found that 1 in 10 children currently ride to school while the number of children being driven to school has a reach a record high.
AustCycle, Australia’s national provider of accredited cycling training provides education and training to community members to encourage them to get on their bikes and ride. Initial funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and a boost of $1m from the Healthy Communities Initiative of the Department of Health and Ageing over 3 years has ensured a presence nationally for AustCycle, but more is needed.
AustCycle General Manager, Gareth Watkins said: “The UK has set the precedent for ensuring future generations will not only cycle safely but consider cycling an alternative transport option.”
Like the UK, our State and Federal Governments across Australia could also realise similar benefits by making it easier for our kids to be active in their every-day lives – it’s one of the best investment we can make for their future.” he added.
The CPF has said “with physical inactivity costing our health budget an estimated$1.5 bn a year and the economy $13bn a year, cycling appears to be one of the easiest ways to increase our physical activity and create a healthier Australia”.
- 9 out of 10 parents believe that cycling is a good way to get fit and it is important for children to learn to ride a bike.
- National Health Survey results indicate almost 25% of Australian children aged 5 to 17 years are overweight or obese. With respect to children, the most important long-term consequence of childhood obesity is its persistence into adulthood.
- 1 in 10 children currently ride to school and the number of children being driven to school has reached a record high.
- With more than 50% of car trips in Australian cities being less than 5km and 30% less than 3 km (Australian National Cycling Strategy, 2005) cycling is a viable solution to many of our traffic congestion, carbon emission and community health issues.
With all of the above statistics pointing to an emerging crisis in our country, the time is right to provide active lifestyle solutions to Australia’s next generation.