YES I AM FAT, BUT IT IS NOT MY FAULT!
Deakin University continues to take the pre-eminent role in the fight against obesity, not just in Victoria, but nationally and internationally.
Professor Boyd Swinburn’s Eat Well Live Healthy project based around a study of residents of Colac in the Western District attracted media coverage as far afield as India, the United States and London in August.
Professor Swinburn, an acknowledged world leader in this field, is the only Australian taking part in the McGill University Think Tank on Obesity to be held in Canada in October.
The Colac project will be high on the agenda there and may become the template for a community-based approach towards combating obesity for the rest of the world.
The McGill Think Tank will also be attended by billionaire benefactor Bill Gates and the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, as well as some of the world’s leading medical experts and economists.
As Professor Swinburn has pointed out many times, the fight against obesity will not be won just by the nutritionists, but the regulators and economists will also have to play a considerable part.
Which is why Professor Richard Ingleby from Deakin’s Law School has joined the many partnerships at Deakin looking for ways to prevent today’s young people from becoming the first generation to die before their parents.
Professor Ingleby will be a key speaker in another Deakin initiative aimed at raising awareness about the need to take action now to end the obesity epidemic.
YES I AM FAT, BUT IT IS NOT MY FAULT! – a panel discussion involving some of Australia’s best minds - will look at just whose responsibility it is to deal with obesity.
Is it the role of the individual, as some in Government claim?
Is it the health experts, the regulators, the economists or all of the above?
The panel discussion will take place at the beautiful St Michael’s Church in Collins Street, Melbourne, on October 17, starting at 6pm, and coincides with Professor Swinburn’s visit to McGill University.
Other speakers on the night will be Professor Louise Baur from Sydney University, Professor David Penington, chief scientist and acknowledged expert in the running of public health campaigns, and Dr Francis McNab, ethicist, philosopher and author.
The evening starts at 6pm and will be recorded for later broadcast on Life Matters on ABC Radio National.
A live audience is also more than welcome.
The night is being organised jointly by Deakin University’s Research Services Division and St Michael's Church.
The Research Services Division was also a sponsor of the Smart Geelong Network’s Researcher of the Year Awards held in August.
CSIRO’s Daniel Layton was the winner of the Deakin University Industry Partnerships Award.
Professor David Penington was the guest speaker at the awards and he spoke about Geelong’s emerging role as a research base in Victoria.
This is an excerpt from his speech.
Geelong, in my view, is currently emerging as a highly significant third “cluster” of research, both in the biosciences and in materials research, and with the potential to be seen as the leader for regional development in Victoria.
Not only does it have long established strengths through the CSIRO divisions in its region and the AARL, but the vigorously developing Deakin University is taking its place as a leader in many areas, headed by its outstanding Vice-Chancellor Sally Walker and now competing in performance with some of the established research intensive universities.
Greg Collier (Chemgenex) has done a quite remarkable job in turning what was somewhat uncertain and confused intellectual property, part of it linked to the Israeli sand rat, around into a vigorous biopharmaceutical company with international reach and compounds now in international clinical trials with an American base and European partners.
He has achieved this from his Waurn Ponds base and continues to contribute to the vigorous and intellectually stimulating culture of Deakin University which is to be congratulated on the way in which it has accommodated the needs of his company over the years.
The great environment and life style of Geelong, including its ready access to surf beaches, has no doubt has contributed to retaining Greg here.
As second area of emerging strength, now becoming nationally recognised with the award of a Federation Fellowship and many other marks of national standing has been Peter Hodgson’s group working in the area of new materials, with many years of very productive collaboration with Ford Motor Company to its credit.
He has attracted outstanding collaborators from overseas and the group may well be the single most compelling factor in keeping Ford committed to Geelong despite the many difficulties being experienced by motor manufacturers in Australia.
Peter has created an environment
where Deakin students can see a continuum between academia and industry,
a situation of huge importance in career choice and educational experience.
Recently a very well attended two day review meeting on healthy and functional foods was held in Melbourne, put on jointly by the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Human Services. It attracted national interest and participation.
The Deakin contributors were by far the most impressive presenters, reflecting really outstanding science in this somewhat neglected area, of huge importance in preventive health strategies.
BioDeakin has many strengths, and this is one of them. There is considerable evidence of significant health problems in regional Victoria, compared with city dwellers, and I have not doubt that BioDeakin will have much to offer as we set about developing strategies for health improvement state-wide as well as through the regions where Deakin has a natural capacity to offer leadership.
My colleagues and I through Foursight were consultants to Deakin in its development of BioDeakin and more recently in arguing the case for benefits arising from the development of the Deakin Medical School, with its prime clinical base in Geelong and strong regional outreach.
This will further greatly strengthen Geelong’s standing as a centre for regional leadership in health matters and health professional education and training. The interface with Chemgenix will be of great value as well as the many opportunities for innovative development of health strategies, not heavily constrained by history as is often a problem in major cities.
I admire the documentation put together by the City of Greater Geelong and its associated bodies.
Lastly, bringing the community along with you is vitally important in making the benefits of scientific and technical advances available, and your strong cohesion as a community augurs well for continuing progress in tackling the many potentially contentious issues change will certainly bring forward.
I see science as being in jeopardy through community fears or inappropriate political lobbying in fields such as stem cell research, of vital importance in some diseases as one example. It would be a tragedy if our international scientific leadership in this field, including Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, were to be dissipated through poorly argued and emotionally charged debate and opposition to change.
One wonders whether similar attitudes in the early days of poliomyelitis epidemics would have required research just to focus on building better ‘iron lungs’ rather than using new experimental science in developing attenuated viruses and different strains for vaccines – a strategy strongly opposed in some quarters by those fearful of ‘tampering with nature’ at the time, and some opposed in principle to the whole process of vaccination.
My scientific colleagues and I welcome the strong support on this issue from John Brumby and the Victorian Government and are delighted to hear of the commitment to a conscience vote in the Federal Parliament.
I congratulate you on your collective achievements and cohesive support for innovation and development over recent years as Geelong has moved strongly to regain its position as an important powerhouse of development for Victoria. You have great potential for the future.