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News

News

Here, you'll find all the latest updates, stories, and insights from St Lukes. 

Our children’s health going up in smoke

As a grandfather and someone who works in the health industry, I feel immense disappointment in this country’s efforts to prevent and protect people from products such as vapes, that are specifically designed and sold to be addictive.

Because I fear it will be my grandchildren that will be asking the questions of my generation as to why we weren’t up to making gutsy calls to keep people healthy.

And why aren’t we? Why is it so hard to place proper restrictions on products that cause harm? Why do we whiff the opportunities to make it easier for people to be healthy, to reduce the long-term burden of disease, to keep people out of hospital? 

The watered-down vaping reform legislation which will see any adult able to purchase unapproved, unregulated and untested vapes from pharmacies without the medical oversight that comes with a prescription, is a glaring and tragic case in point.

Here we were, as a nation, battling a tidal wave of tobacco industry sponsored vaping that, surprise surprise, our kids were flocking to, and when we had the chance to end it by placing an effective ban on these products, our elected representatives coughed it up.

Now, they’re patting themselves on the back for legislation that will predictably pave the way for vapes to thrive in our community, in the mouths of any kid who wants them, exposing them to harmful addiction and a convenient pathway to tobacco. Then, it’s just more chronic disease and preventable deaths.

Turning pharmacies into vape shops without any medical oversight of a product we know is highly addictive and likely to be illegally sold-on to children is a massive setback in our efforts to stop yet another generation becoming addicted to the harmful products of big tobacco.

Thankfully, some of our pharmacies are stepping up where the federal politicians have failed. The chains that have stated they won’t be transformed into vape shops and won’t stock vapes regardless of this weak legislation are to be commended for their stand.

There is still a window of hope though. Already, Western Australia has pushed back against the legislation, and I’m calling on the Tasmanian Government to do the same and better protect our younger generation. 
To retail nicotine products in Tasmania, you need a license from the state government – and this gives us an opportunity to place tougher restrictions on vapes and vaping products that contain nicotine. 

It’s an opportunity our state government needs to show leadership in and must take up. We, as a state, need to make the hard call if we are to put our hands on our hearts and say we did everything we could to make the younger generation a healthier one than ours.

Paul Lupo is the CEO of Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer St Lukes

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Tasmanian health leaders take up the fight for tougher vape legislation

With less than three months to go before vapes become available in pharmacies without a prescription, Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer St Lukes and the Tasmanian Pharmacy Guild are calling on the state government to intervene.

Federal legislation passed late last month initially proposed to make the sale of vapes ‘prescription only’. However, last-minute amendments mean nicotine vapes will become ‘pharmacist only’ from October, making them available without a prescription to anyone 18 years or over.

In addition to the national regulation, Tasmania’s own legislation requires nicotine retailers to be licenced.

St Lukes CEO Paul Lupo said this provided an opportunity for the state government to add an extra layer of protection, similar to Western Australia, where nicotine vapes had been illegal without a prescription for a decade.

“We remain incredibly disappointed by the decision taken by the Senate, that puts the interests of big tobacco ahead of the health of our community,” Mr Lupo said. 

“But now, in the lead up to October 1, we have a crucial window to ensure every action is taken to protect our community’s health and prevent these highly addictive products ending up in the hands of our children.

“We’ll be working with the state government, urging them to make Tasmania a leader in this space. We have decades of evidence of the inherent harm of nicotine addiction – now’s the time to act decisively and protect our future generations.”

Tasmanian pharmacists frustrated by the watered-down national laws vow they won’t be forced into becoming vape shops.

The Pharmacy Guild’s Tasmanian branch said pharmacists were not consulted on the amendments they were expected to enforce, and the legislation wouldn’t succeed without their buy-in. Several major national retailers have already stated they won’t stock vapes.

Under the changes, pharmacists need to be satisfied that a vape is clinically appropriate for the buyer – something Pharmacy Guild state President Helen O’Byrne said would be near impossible to manage.

“We administer pharmacist only medicines following consultation with patients, where we establish the therapeutic need,” she said. “Under the amendments, we can’t record patient information when supplying nicotine vapes, which flies in the face of the normal provision of healthcare.

It undermines the role of pharmacists as health care professionals, ultimately asking pharmacists to prescribe unapproved, unregulated, untested vaping products to the public.”

Ms O’Byrne said there remained concerns around pharmacists’ liability if a customer developed vaping-related health issues, insurance impacts, business risks and regulatory compliance. It also remained unclear how the amended federal legislation would tackle concerns around black market vapes.

“If we can’t take people’s details, how can we know how many pharmacies they’ve been to and how many vapes they’ve purchased that day?” she said.

“There’s a total lack of control, not to mention the lack of evidence around vapes helping with smoking cessation. This essentially turns pharmacists into tobacconists.

“We don’t get up and go to work in the morning to intentionally supply potentially harmful and highly addictive products to our patients.”

Mr Lupo said a St Lukes member survey conducted last year had revealed 90 per cent of respondents supported a smoking and vaping ban.

“Our members have reported they want action on vapes. St Lukes has the vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet, and to achieve that, we need to see real leadership when faced with issues like this,” he said.

“Let’s look back in 40 years’ time and say we did the right thing, not lament that we chose to take the easy road and exposed our children to something that need never have been part of their lives.”

ENDS

For further information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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Bowen Road students empowered by world-leading child health literacy initiative

Students from a southern Tasmanian primary school are reaping the benefits of an internationally renowned child health literacy initiative, designed to empower future generations to take control of their own health and wellbeing.

HealthLit4Kids is an evidence-based program developed by Tasmanian international experts Dr Rosie Nash and Dr Shandell Elmer. It has already been included in three World Health Organisation reports as an exemplar for addressing non-communicable diseases (chronic conditions) such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The targeted initiative supports primary schools to build the health literacy of staff and students in developing a culture through which the needs of the whole school community are identified and supported.

Teachers from Bowen Road Primary School are reporting a noticeable improvement in their students’ understanding of good health and healthy decisions in their third year into the program.

Bowen Road Primary Advanced Skills Teacher, Jenny Morgan, said HealthLit4Kids differed to any other program, in that it gave teachers permission to teach curriculum in an integrated way, completely tailored to the unique needs of the school, making it relatable and fun for students.

“HealthLit4Kids designs a whole-of-school action plan providing an opportunity for us to create an ethos and culture of health, and to work together on a shared goal, creating a sense of cohesion and community,” Ms Morgan said.

“New vocabulary and conversations have been heard in our classrooms and playgrounds about healthy decisions and habits, and our teachers and parent community have noticed a change in the children’s health behaviour and general classroom behaviour.”

HealthLit4Kids co-creator Dr Rosie Nash said the program gave students the opportunity to express what they learned in an age-appropriate way through their own displays and artefacts, which they were encouraged to share with their peers.

“We’ve been working with Bowen Road Primary for three years now and it is wonderful to see such positive results being observed by the whole school community,” Dr Nash said.

“The program aims to allow children to explore health issues that are specifically relevant to themselves, their families, friends and local community.

“Every year, we sit down with the teachers at the school to review what’s working for them and refining their action plan as needed, measuring outcomes from the past 12 months and setting new goals for next year.

“Every school is completely different in terms of their needs and areas of focus, and we not only tailor the program to individual schools, but within their respective action plans we also breakdown aims into ‘whole school’, ‘teachers’, ‘students’ and the ‘wider community’.

“That way we involve the whole school community, and it gives everyone a sense of ownership and pride in what they’re working together to achieve.”

Tasmanian leading not-for-profit health insurer St Lukes is working to lobby the Tasmanian Government to fund the rollout of the program progressively across all primary schools statewide.

St Luke CEO Paul Lupo said Tasmanians experienced significant challenges when it came to both their health literacy and educational attainment.

“Here we have an internationally sought-after child health literacy program, developed right here in Tasmania by Tasmanians, which is being adopted by other governments around the world, yet only a small proportion of our schools have access to it,” Mr Lupo said. “Health literacy ensures everyone in the community, regardless of background or education level, can access and understand essential health information, enabling them to actively participate in their own health and wellbeing.

“If we equip our children with the invaluable asset of health literacy, we will see a transformative intergenerational impact on Tasmania’s health outcomes.

“This represents a critical component of our vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.”
Dr Nash said health literacy was an essential life skill that should be developed with children and adolescents before health behaviours were formed.

“Research shows we do most of our learning about how to be healthy with our family and friends during our school years, meaning quality health education in primary schools is essential for healthy learners and healthy communities,” she said.

“We want to be able to provide the same opportunity for learning to all Tasmanian primary schools, and we are hopeful that though case studies like Bowen Road Primary, the government will see the long-term benefits of that opportunity.”

ENDS

For more information Emily Woodgate, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0412 828 802 | emily@timminsray.com.au

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Tasmanian senators must not fail our health on vaping Bill

St Lukes CEO Paul Lupo said with the Bill expected to be brought on for debate, the Senate had the opportunity to deliver a far-reaching public health outcome for the country.

St Lukes is calling on Tasmanian senators to justify how this decision is in the best interest of the community.

“The Federal Government has shown the courage and leadership to have tough restrictions on the sale of vapes and vaping products to stop vapes from impacting our health,” Mr Lupo said.

“We now need senators from the other parties to stand up and say they don’t want to see Tasmanians targeted and harmed by these products any longer.”

Mr Lupo said reports that the Bill was being watered down to remove a requirement of a prescription for adults to buy vaping products from 1 October were extremely disappointing.

“The Greens in the Senate, and now some peak bodies, have put the interest of big tobacco ahead of the health of our population,” he said.

“Effectively turning pharmacies into vape shops without any medical oversight of a product we know is highly addictive and liable to be illegally on-sold to children is a massive setback in our efforts to stop yet another generation becoming addicted to nicotine and the products of big tobacco.

“Tasmanians will be rightly wondering what it will take to convince our lawmakers to take tough and decisive action to just get rid of these products from general circulation full stop.”

St Lukes is also urging the Tasmanian Government to act as a national leader, and ensure they are doing whatever they can at a state level to protect the health of Tasmanians. 

“We have decades of evidence of the inherent harm of nicotine addiction, and yet we still can’t bring ourselves to decisively protect the community. While many of these measures will help control access to vapes, removing the requirement for prescription leaves us with a loophole all too many people will fall victim to.

“Vapes are harmful. They are addictive. Those two reasons alone ought to be enough for senators to take the action that’s needed. The fact that it is younger Tasmanians who are most at-risk from vaping purely reinforces how critical this vote is.

“We cannot afford for this vote to be the moment the next generation looks back on and asks why we didn’t make a more courageous decision for the sake of people’s health. It’s time to make a difference.”

ENDS

For further information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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St Lukes supports The Walk with inclusion key to overall health vision

Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania Chair Peter Gutwein is pleased to have the support of St Lukes for The Walk Step up Together.

“St Lukes has a vision for Tasmania to be the healthiest island on the planet, and we know that health isn’t simply physical wellbeing, but also social wellbeing, with inclusion and connectedness at the heart,” Mr Gutwein said.

“We know that inclusion has a direct influence on overall health because it enhances mental and emotional wellbeing, reduces health disparities, promotes better social support and fosters a holistic approach to health.

“We achieve better health outcomes as a state when we look at the big picture and all dimensions of health and wellbeing, and inclusion which is the core focus of The Walk, is part of that.”

St Lukes acting CEO Ben Davis said the organisation was proud to be supporting The Walk, which highlights the importance of creating inclusive communities for all Tasmanians.

“St Lukes has a vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet, and we know when people feel a sense of belonging and connection, they are more likely to live fulfilling lives,” Mr Davis said.

“This in turn opens up further opportunities to improve our overall health and wellbeing as a community, in a space where everyone feels safe and supported.  

“Peter has been advocating for a healthier Tasmania for many years now and we applaud him for his total dedication to the important issue of social wellbeing and inclusion.”

Mr Davis said it was encouraging to see individuals and organisations working collaboratively towards better health and wellbeing outcomes for our state.  

“Tasmanians understand better than anyone the power of a connected community and what we can achieve together when we collaborate,” he said.

“This is why St Lukes is supporting The Walk to the tune of $5,000.

“If we are going to be the healthiest island on the planet, individuals, organisations and governments will need to work together and bring our collective expertise and capabilities to the table.”

The Walk Step up Together will see Peter Gutwein Walk 350km over seven days, from 9 to 16 June, joined by a growing number of individuals and organisations.

The Walk is an opportunity to raise the flag for inclusion in Tasmania and the value of our migrant and refugee communities. 

Tasmanians and Tasmanian businesses are encouraged to get behind the initiative and can find out more by visiting www.mrctas.org.au

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World-leading Tasmanian health literacy initiative to empower a generation

Tasmanian primary schools could soon have access to an internationally acclaimed health literacy initiative developed in Tasmania, designed to empower future generations to take control of their own health and wellbeing. 

HealthLit4Kids is an evidence-based program developed by Tasmanian specialist researchers Dr Rosie Nash and Dr Shandell Elmer. It has already been included in three World Health Organisation reports as an exemplar for addressing non-communicable diseases (chronic conditions) such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

HealthLit4Kids is a youth targeted program that supports primary schools to build the health literacy of staff and students in developing a culture through which the needs of the whole school community are identified and supported. 

St Lukes wants the incoming government to commit to core funding for HealthLit4Everyone so it can ensure the rollout of its HealthLit4Kids program in all 123 Tasmanian primary schools in its first term. 

CEO Paul Lupo said health literacy was a social determinant of health, capable of redressing inequity, and was integral to the organisation’s vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.

“Health literacy ensures everyone in the community, regardless of background or education level, can access and understand essential health information, enabling them to actively participate in their own health and wellbeing,” Mr Lupo said. 

“We are calling on a newly elected government to commit to a focused effort on health literacy in Tasmanian primary schools with the aim of creating a generation that can find, understand and use health information and services. 

“Tasmanians experience significant challenges when it comes to both their health literacy and educational attainment, each having a compounding effect on the other. 
“If we equip our children with the invaluable asset of health literacy, we will see a transformative intergenerational impact on Tasmania’s health outcomes.”

HealthLit4Everyone CEO Dr Rosie Nash said health literacy was an essential life skill that should be developed with children and adolescents before health behaviours were formed. 
“Research shows we do most of our learning about how to be healthy with our family and friends during our school years, meaning quality health education in primary schools is essential for healthy learners and healthy communities,” Dr Nash said. 

“Health education in primary schools is usually taught by classroom teachers, and our research shows they often report that they do not have the time or knowledge to confidently include health in classroom lessons. 

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Health Navigators guide Tasmanians through the healthcare system

A new St Lukes Health Navigation service is helping demystify the state’s healthcare system, putting Tasmanians on the right track to better health and wellbeing.

St Lukes Chief Health Officer Luke Cameron said the organisation understood that members often found the health system so complex, they simply didn’t know where to start.

“This is the case whether you’re well and looking for proactive advice to stay that way, have a health concern and are investigating screening options, or have received a diagnosis and are exploring possible courses of treatment,” Mr Cameron said.

“To address this issue in a proactive, positive way, we’re providing St Lukes members and the community free access to our Health Navigators who specialise in navigating the healthcare system.

“Our Heath Navigators are non-clinical professionals, complementing people’s relationships with their primary treating practitioners.”

The latest Primary Health Tasmania 
Needs Assessment Report 2022-2025 sparked the idea for the service, revealing that most people enter the health system through their GPs, with the average Tasmanian seeing their doctor seven times a year.

But with an ageing population, increasingly complex health issues, GPs strained by heavy workloads, and the need for early intervention to keep people out of hospital, St Lukes is perfectly positioned to play a role in helping people find the information they need to get well, or stay well.

Health Navigation service user Madeleine Maloney said she went in to discuss a range of health concerns, and came out with practical ideas, solutions, and a plan for the way forward.

“It was a huge relief. Confidential, competent, we did research on the spot and the health navigator followed up with links and references after the session,” Madeleine said.

“It’s a very generous offer. I spent an hour one-on-one with someone interested in health, there was no hard sell, just a genuine conversation based on navigating health systems that are complicated, and getting more complicated.

“We have an excellent GP, but doctors are overworked. This service is an amazing example of the change and collaboration that St Lukes is driving for. Take it up, I guarantee it will be useful!”

Anyone can access the free service at St Lukes’ Hobart wellness hub face-to-face, online, or by phone. St Lukes will shortly rollout the service statewide, where it will be especially critical for people in regional communities who have the most challenges accessing healthcare.

“It was important to make this available to everyone – both St Lukes members and the wider public – to progress our vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet,” Mr Cameron said.

ENDS

More information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray – 0429 683 779 | jacquie@timminsray.com.au

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Donations urgently needed to help relieve the Christmas cost crunch

As demand soars for Christmas support services, two Tasmanian organisations are calling on the community to help make the season special for those most in need.

Hobart City Mission and St Lukes are joining forces on a Christmas donation drive this December. People can leave an unwrapped new toy under the St Lukes Hobart Christmas tree until end-of-business on Thursday 14th December. Toys, non-perishable food and financial donations can also be given directly at City Mission’s Hobart and Moonah offices until 5pm that day.

Hobart City Mission CEO Harvey Lennon said the local community needed support more than ever this Christmas.

“The increased cost of living and housing crisis are continuing to put pressure on the people of southern Tasmania, and without donations we can’t meet this increasing demand,” Mr Lennon said.

“Since applications for our Christmas Assistance Program opened in October, we’ve been inundated with more than 1,648 families – including almost 3,000 children – applying for assistance.

“That’s a 63 per cent increase in families compared to 2022, and a 72 per cent increase in the number of kids affected.

“We talked to one mum recently who was so grateful for the support she received last year. She said Christmas had always been a special time for her family. It was only because of this support that she could make Christmas special for her kids too – just how she remembered with her own mother.”

The Christmas Assistance Program surge reflects the growing demand on Hobart City Mission’s Emergency Relief program, where the number of food packs handed out every month has increased by around 30 per cent.

St Lukes CEO Paul Lupo said the organisation was delighted to support the Christmas donation drive with a gift of its own – a $10,000 donation to the appeal – as well as providing an easy-access central location for people to drop in with their presents.

“Rising cost-of-living is impacting us all, but when times are tough Tasmanians are very good at coming together and rallying around those most in need,” Mr Lupo said.

“If you can, give what you can. A small donation can have a big impact on families who are doing it tough. Giving also builds social connectedness and improves everyone’s mental health, which aligns with our vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.

“We’re thrilled to contribute $10,000 to the cause. Let’s take care of each other this Christmas and spread joy and wellbeing to every home.”

Donation points
Where: St Lukes Hobart (corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth Streets)
What: Unwrapped new toys
When: Until 5pm Thursday 14th December

Where: Hobart City Mission, 50 Barrack St Hobart or 11 Main Rd Moonah
What: Non-perishable food items, unwrapped new toys and financial donations (Barrack St office, online at
hobartcitymission.org.au or over the phone on 6215 4200)
When: Until 5pm Thursday 14th December
 
ENDS
Further information: Emily Woodgate, Timmins Ray Public Relations: emily@timminsray.com.au

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Tasmanian parents given exclusive lesson on raising tech-healthy humans

St.LukesHealth is providing parents and carers with an exclusive opportunity to hear from Tasmanian multi award-winning author on parenting and TEDx speaker, Daniel Sih, on how to raise tech-healthy humans in Hobart next month.

Southern Regional Manager, Kate Denmen, said St.LukesHealth was thrilled to host the free session to give parents a deeper philosophy of technology, as it related to themselves and their children, enabling them to establish healthier habits.

“This is just one of the ways we’re helping to drive positive generational change, which forms an important part of our vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet,” Mrs Denmen said.

Mr Sih this year won Best Parenting Book in the eLit Book Awards (USA) and a Silver Medal in the Best Family/Parenting Book category of the Best Living Now Book Awards (USA).

His 2023 TEDx talk on the topic of kids and tech has had more than 200,000 views since May and his books have been endorsed by world-renowned Tasmanian parenting author, Steve Biddulph.

According to Mr Sih, social media and early interactive tech use is making young people less happy, increasing mental health issues, and damaging their ability to focus, control their emotions, and learn in constructive ways. 

“Digital technology is miraculous, useful and essential for young people, as it is the world they will navigate as adults, but too much time online, the wrong type of time online, at too young an age, can be harmful to their health, learning, and happiness,” Mr Sih said.

“To learn throughout life, young people need to learn how to focus, concentrate, and hold attention, but early use of interactive media through devices trains our brains to require constant stimulation, novelty and non-linear thinking.

“This is bad for learning because ultimately, if our kids are to grow up to be leaders in their fields, including technology, they first need a brain that can focus and learn.”

Mr Sih said eyesight was also deeply impacted by near-work (versus far work), so parents needed to know what types of screens were better for their children.

“There is a myopia epidemic that will hit us in 50 years because of early handheld device use, with the World Health Organisation predicting 50 per cent of the world's population will be near-sighted or myopic by 2050,” he said.

“As a society, we all need to slow down in giving kids interactive devices (such as tablets and phones) and social media, because most of the apps used by kids are designed to fracture their attention, create addiction, and stimulate anxiety-producing parts of the brain. 

“I teach a seven-step program to help parents re-think the way they introduce technologies, not to reject the value of digital technology, but to go slower, then grade up as kids grow up.”

Mr Sih’s book was released in December 2022 and has been hugely popular among schools and parenting communities, with a number of independent primary schools across Tasmania purchasing copies for every parent.

Mrs Denmen encouraged any Tasmanian with an interest in how to raise tech healthy young people to come along to the free event next month for an exclusive opportunity to hear from Daniel.

“It is our aim to make our Hobart health and wellbeing space a valued place for our members and the entire Tasmanian community, to enable preventative health, early intervention and positive generational change,” Mrs Denmen said.

The free session will be held on Monday 6 November from 6pm – 7.30pm. 
ENDS
 
For more information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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Tasmanians incentivised to prioritise their health in the face of rising living costs

Tasmanians feeling the pinch from the rising cost of living are being incentivised to keep their families’ health at the top of their priorities.

Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer, St.LukesHealth, has teamed up with Tasmanian Independent Retailers to offer new members a free IGA gift card worth up to $500 to help families with their grocery costs.*

Chief Operating Officer, Darren Harris, said recent figures revealed more than three-quarters of the Tasmanian community were feeling the pressure from inflation, specifically when it came to feeding the family.

“We know food insecurity is a rapidly growing problem for families in this state, ranging from having to reduce the quality and variety of food, to extreme measures such as regularly skipping meals,” Mr Harris said.

“More than 86 per cent of our members are Tasmanian, and we understand that family budgets are just not stretching as far as many people need them to.

“We know people are finding the cost of living extremely challenging in the present economic climate, and we are determined to help in any way we can to ease that burden.”

IGA Tasmania Head of Marketing, Travis Allen, said with more than 85 stores across the state, IGA was delighted to provide new St.LukesHealth members with the opportunity to shop local and save on groceries.

Mr Harris said the IGA affiliation and offer was just one of the ways St.LukesHealth was working to make Tasmanians healthier.

“We take our role in the community extremely seriously and we know what it means to support our members, and that includes new members,” he said.

*Offer ends 13 October 2023. Must maintain product for 30 days to receive voucher. Offer available to new Tasmanian members only. T&Cs apply. 

ENDS
 
For more information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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Collaboration aims to help Tasmanians stay healthy and move into homes

Tasmanians are set to benefit from a new alliance between prominent local organisations, St.LukesHealth and Bank of us, with the announcement of a number of exclusive offers.

Bank of us CEO Paul Ranson said the first phase of the collaboration will help Tasmanians to take control of their health and get into homes sooner.  

“We are coming together to reward the Tasmanian community for supporting us over the years, offering financial benefits to both new and existing customers to say thank you.

“We understand some Tasmanians are doing it really tough right now, with the rising cost of living, and we encourage our customers and members to get in touch to see how we can help,” Mr Ranson said.

St.LukesHealth CEO Paul Lupo said through the new alliance, the two organisations were committed to improving the physical, mental and financial health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians.

“St.LukesHealth has set an ambitious vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet, and as part of our commitment to this, we’re focusing on things that will help make a positive difference to people’s lives and improve their overall health and wellbeing,” Mr Lupo said.

Mr Ranson said the collaboration aligns with the Bank’s two key impact priorities – to contribute to improving the financial literacy of Tasmanians, and to help more Tasmanians into homes.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to help Tasmanians into homes for more than 153 years, making a difference to the lives of Tasmanians,” Mr Ranson said.

“In the next phase of our alliance with St.LukesHealth, we’ll be identifying even more ways we can work together to provide powerful, positive outcomes for Tasmanians.”

Mr Lupo said both organisations have a proud Tasmanian heritage and are dedicated to the betterment of the state, and he hoped to see many in the community making the most of the unique collaboration and offering.

For more information on the exclusive offers, visit our member benefits page.

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Tasmanian parents and carers given skills to save their children’s lives

Tasmanian parents and carers have been given the skills to save their children’s lives, with a specialised first aid program for babies and young children, aimed at preparing them for an emergency and equipping them with the confidence to handle common health issues.

St.LukesHealth Southern Regional Manager, Kate Denmen, said the two-hour session – facilitated by Jason Crusius from First Up and hosted in St.LukesHealth Hobart – provided participants with vital information about children’s health, first aid and safety in a non-judgmental, friendly environment.

“Baby + Child First Aid Tasmania sessions are delivered by qualified health professionals, trained in accordance with current recommendations and guidelines at a low cost of $6,” Mrs Denmen said.

Late last year, St.LukesHealth invited the community to vote on the types of programs they’d like to see in the new CBD space – from therapy dogs to try-it-out sports days, partner pop-ups to lunchtime orchestral performances.

Mrs Denmen said the response was overwhelming, and after tallying hundreds of votes, the organisation had developed a diverse program of services and events that responded to the expectations of the community.

“Since opening our doors to the public late last month, we’re thrilled to see so many different organisations making the most of our space to deliver valuable health services such as this,” Mrs Denmen said.

“It is our aim to make this a valued place for our members and the entire Tasmanian community to seek help in understanding and navigating the healthcare system as well as learn, explore, be inspired, and take charge of their health and wellbeing.

“This is just another way we’re working towards our vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.”

ENDS

For more information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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New community health and wellbeing hub opens its doors in the heart of Hobart’s CBD

A new health and wellbeing hub in the heart of Hobart’s CBD will open its doors to the public tomorrow, with an immediate offering of programs and services available to the whole community.

St.LukesHealth Southern Manager, Kate Denmen, said the iconic central space would incorporate initiatives as voted by the public, all with the aim of empowering Tasmanians to take control of their health and wellbeing.

“St.LukesHealth was thrilled to see the community embrace the opportunity to have their say on what they wanted to see in the space, tallying hundreds of votes on a range of suggested activities,” Ms Denmen said.

“Our most popular concept 'Movers and Shakers', won the most votes, telling us the community craves invigorating classes that promote movement and wellness, from Pilates and yoga to breath work and a running club.

“Our ‘Right Care, Right Time, Right Here’ concept came in at a close second, revealing a community need for support in navigating the health journey by having the right information at the right time.

“We will provide access to a team to guide people as they undertake the treatment they need to return to their healthy selves, whether that be advice about how to prepare and what to expect in hospital or getting ready to return to everyday life.

Partnering organisations today came together to inspect the new space where they will be providing specialised programs, services and classes to help promote health education and wellbeing to Tasmanians.

Personal Trainer Ella Crocombe, aka Coach Ella, said she was equally excited to go on this health journey with St.LukesHealth.

“I myself have several chronic illnesses, so I decided to learn how to specialise in rehab and help other people who suffer from the same thing,” Coach Ella said.

“Beginning in Women’s Health Week, I’m going to be pairing up with St.LukesHealth to provide free sessions to other people like me who suffer from chronic pain, in particular pelvic pain.”

Co-owner of Udara Movement Studio, Kate Cashman, said the new space would provide better opportunities for movement, meditation, and wellbeing for Tasmanians right in the heart of Hobart city.

“We will be teaching people, in a non-intimidating way, to try and move in a way that will support them in their day-to-day work, while also bringing a sense of calmness and wellness to their everyday lives,” Ms Cashman said.

Clinic leader and exercise physiologist at Kieser Hobart, Josh Miller, said having access to the new CBD space would help bring the science of Keiser even closer to the Tasmanian community.

“Kieser is obsessed with achieving outcomes for our clients and we’re really excited about the potential for others in the community to benefit from our expertise in exercise and its benefits for our health,” Mr Miller said.

Ms Denmen said interest in the space was increasing by the day, with events already lined up with other key Tasmanian organisations, including the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation, the Cancer Council Tasmania and Dress for Success.

“St.LukesHealth Hobart will be a wonderful place for our members and the Tasmanian community to visit, a place to seek help in understanding and navigating the healthcare system – for anyone who wants to be aware, explore, be inspired, and take charge of their health and wellbeing,” Ms Denmen said.

“We’re excited to open our new Hobart home tomorrow, and we are eager to welcome everyone, as we continue our work to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.”

ENDS
 
For more information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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New health and wellbeing hub unveils majestic all-Tasmanian sassafras installation

A magnificent all-Tasmanian sassafras installation has been revealed today in Hobart’s CBD, as part of a new public-inspired health and wellbeing hub.

Set to open its doors on August 21, the St.LukesHealth member and community space features a visually stunning installation, designed to resemble the inside of a tree, crafted by an all-Tasmanian team using the native wood Blackheart Sassafras.

The timber installation stands 3.6 metres high and 56 metres long – a testament to the organisation’s commitment to fostering a healthier community in environmentally sustainable spaces.

CEO Paul Lupo said the iconic central space would incorporate services and activities as voted by the public during an open weekend late last year, to empower Tasmanians to take control of their health and wellbeing.

“The majestic installation will welcome everyone into the space, designed by Tasmanian architects Terroir and brought to life by Vos Constructions, who invested more than 1,500 hours into its creation,” Mr Lupo said.

Terroir Project Leader Jack Andrews said the installation was designed to bring the city inside, shaped like a tree hollow, to stimulate the imagination.

“Hollows, when found in nature, are a natural form of shelter which sustain all forms of life, so drawing on that concept seemed an appropriate theme for St.LukesHealth in its aim to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet,” Mr Andrews said.

VOS Construction Manager Stuart Percey said the process for building the timber installation was based on guitar manufacturing and a clinker-built timber dinghy technique.

“It was a pleasure to work on this truly unique, Tasmanian installation, with the client, designer, supplier, timber and builder all being from our island state,” Mr Percey said.

St.LukesHealth invited the community to vote on ideas for the new CBD space – from therapy dogs to try-it-out sports days, partner pop-ups to lunchtime orchestral performances.

Mr Lupo said the response was overwhelming, and after tallying hundreds of votes, he was thrilled to announce the top three choices as voted by the public.

“Our most popular concept 'Movers and Shakers', won the most votes, telling us the community craves invigorating classes that promote movement and wellness, from Pilates and yoga to breath work and a running club.

“Our ‘Right Care, Right Time, Right Here’ concept came in at a close second, revealing a community need for support in navigating the health journey by having the right information at the right time.

“We will provide access to a team to guide people as they undertake the treatment they need to return to their healthy selves, whether that be advice about how to prepare and what to expect in hospital or getting ready to return to everyday life.

“Finally, 'Yours For A Week' was an idea that garnered immense support, dedicating the innovative space to other health-related services, organisations or charities, providing them with exposure in a high-traffic area for an entire week.

“St.LukesHealth Hobart will be a beautiful place for our members and the Tasmanian community to visit, a place to seek help in understanding and navigating the healthcare system – for anyone who wants to learn, explore, be inspired, and take charge of their health and wellbeing.

“We’re excited to open our new Hobart home at the end of August, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone, as we continue our work to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.”

ENDS

For more information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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St.LukesHealth supports Tasmanians’ oral health with new dental practices

Northern Tasmanians will soon have access to a new dental practice, with leading not-for-profit health insurer, St.LukesHealth, today announcing the opening of its very own practice in Launceston early next year.
 
The St.LukesHealth Dental Practice – to be housed in the organisation’s new Launceston Headquarters currently under construction – will be the first of a group of new practices planned across Tasmania, in a bid to ease the pressure on the state’s dental system.
 
Chief Health Officer, Luke Cameron, said recognising the crucial role essential oral health played in overall wellbeing was key to the organisation’s vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.
 
“St.LukesHealth believes it is a fundamental right for all Tasmanians to have access to high-quality essential oral healthcare,” Mr Cameron said.
 
“With 16,500 Tasmanians waiting for non-emergency oral healthcare on Tasmania’s public dental system, we are keen to provide affordable and accessible services, supplementing and supporting existing dental health services in the state.”
 
Mr Cameron said the dental industry in Tasmania continued to strive for better dental outcomes, but strong evidence suggested more still needed to be done.
 
“Affordable and accessible dental care in Tasmania is a real and worsening challenge, with the number of dentists in Tasmania falling short of the national average by 25 per cent, placing considerable pressure on access,” he said.
 
"St.LukesHealth has a long history of supporting oral health providers in Tasmania. Our entry into this market as a provider strengthens our commitment to both the industry and Tasmanians seeking access to essential oral healthcare.
 
“It is well understood that good oral health directly contributes to improved overall health outcomes, so we are deeply committed to ensuring that every Tasmanian can attain and sustain optimal oral health.
 
“By expanding the dental network, enhancing accessibility, and promoting affordability, we are taking significant steps towards making Tasmania a healthier place to live.”
 
ENDS
 
For more information: Jacquie Ray, Timmins Ray Public Relations: 0429 683 779.

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Up to 100 Tasmanians set to avoid unnecessary surgeries

One hundred Tasmanians living with Osteoarthritis (OA) have signed up to a pilot program designed to prevent them from having avoidable hip or knee joint replacement surgery in the next 12 months.

OA is a chronic degenerative joint disease and a major cause of pain and disability for around 2.2 million Australians, anticipated to rise to 3.1 million by 2030.

St.LukesHealth Chief Health Officer, Luke Cameron, said the program was the first of its kind, not only for the organisation, but also for the state, providing an alternative to Tasmanians who had limited options other than surgery.

“We are thrilled to have launched this innovation, delivered in partnership with Kieser Australia – an allied health-led network of exercise scientists, exercise physiologists and physiotherapists,” Mr Cameron said.

“Joint replacement surgery is one of the major financial burdens on our hospital system and we know from Kieser programs conducted in Victoria and overseas that between 60-75 per cent of participants have managed to avoid surgery.

“The program is just one of the ways we’re working towards our vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island in the world, not only benefiting those who participate, but importantly easing the load on our state’s health system.

“Not only will the pilot provide another option for clinicians and patients who don’t want to either recommend or undergo surgery, but it will also deliver findings that can inform and facilitate the further development of alternative care models.

“This has the potential to take immense pressure off the hospital system, but most importantly, it empowers participants to regain control of their own condition and maintain a better quality of life.”

The program has been custom developed to improve participants’ condition through physiotherapy, exercise, strength development and education, in a safe and supervised environment.

Importantly, it also aims to reduce their pain levels and improve their ability to undertake and enjoy everyday activities, providing them with a long-term self-management program.

Case Study – Mark Newell started the program in December and completed it on March 14.

“The results have been amazing, and I have been recommending the program, and Kieser, to as many people as possible. I have also taken up a membership, to continue to build the strength needed to cope with my Osteoarthritis.

“My pain has dropped considerably (I would say by around 60% since I started), and I am feeling good. If the doctor had suggested surgery when I first went to see her, I would have jumped at the chance. Now, no way!

“St.LukesHealth needs to be highly commended for such a great initiative as this.”

ENDS

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St.LukesHealth has partnered with Healthy Heart Network to Combat Heart Disease in Tasmania

St.LukesHealth is proud to announce its partnership with Dr Warrick Bishop and the Healthy Heart Network to combat heart disease in Tasmania. This partnership is helping deliver St.LukesHealth's vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.

Heart disease is responsible for an average of 118 deaths in Australia every day. However, many heart attacks and strokes can be prevented if risk factors are detected and managed early. As part of their mission to become the healthiest island on the planet, St.LukesHealth and the Healthy Heart Network are inviting 100 participants to take part in a pilot study program.

Chief Health Officer Luke Cameron said the program is designed to gain an understanding of the heart health of St.LukesHealth members and Tasmania as a whole. The first step to lowering your chances of developing heart disease is understanding your risk. Participation in the pilot study program is of no cost to members.

"There is a large population of Australians who are dying from heart disease, and we want to better identify those at risk through using a CT acquired cardiac calcium score (also called a coronary artery calcium, “CAC score”) to assess how the results alter management or not."

“The program's goal is to perform a basic cardiac health screening and, if appropriate, a CAC score. From there we can work together with Healthy Heart to raise more awareness and help more Tasmanians stay healthy,” said Luke Cameron.

Dr Warrick Bishop said the program consists of an online virtual heart assessment, visiting a locally situated CT scanner, and a follow-up survey every three months for 9 months. The program is delivered on a web-based platform with supportive educational resources and email communications from the Healthy Heart Network.

“This exciting initiative will more accurately define risk of heart attack and so save lives by identifying high risk individuals allowing therapies to be put in place before a problem occurs,” said Dr Warrick Bishop.

At St.LukesHealth, the wellbeing of our community is important to us, and we want to support everyone in ensuring that wellbeing is an active process of becoming more aware of and making choices towards everyone’s best health journey and overall healthspan.

Visit 
our website to learn more about the program and together, let us work towards making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.

ENDS

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St.LukesHealth survey reveals high levels of vaping concern

A survey of St.LukesHealth members revealed high levels of concern about vaping and vaping products, with almost 90 per cent of respondents stating they would support a vaping ban.
 

The exclusive survey, conducted by St.LukesHealth, also found 95 per cent of people surveyed were concerned about vaping as a health issue, with almost 80 per cent stating they were “very concerned”.

St.LukesHealth CEO Paul Lupo said the organisation had been urging policymakers to take note of growing community concern, take a stand and ban vaping and vaping products.

“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to do the right thing by our kids and make sure Big Tobacco doesn’t find another way to trap people into a lifetime of addiction, chronic disease and premature death,” Mr Lupo said.

“Our survey gives clear evidence that people are worried and want to see vapes banned, so governments need to take heed and stop allowing these products to fall into the hands, mouths and lungs of our children.”

Mr Lupo said he welcomed recent comments from Federal Health Minister Mark Butler about the harm vaping was doing to young people and urged him to take strong action.

“If we are serious about improving the health of Australians, if we are serious about not wanting our children to come to harm, if we are serious about not having our health policies dictated by Big Tobacco, now is the time for strong action,” he said.

“Stopping a new generation from becoming addicted to another harmful product, with all the social and economic benefits that would bring, should be Minister Butler’s and the Federal Government’s legacy.”

Mr Lupo said St.LukesHealth had made a submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration regarding regulation of vaping products.

“St.LukesHealth wants vaping products gone. The only place we see they potentially may have a role is under prescription to assist a smoker to overcome a tobacco addiction, in cases where other methods have not been successful.” he said.

“Good health policy isn’t always easy, but this is about our kids and what may happen to them if vapes are allowed to proliferate, creating yet another market for Big Tobacco and all the poor health outcomes that go with it.

“Mr Butler made all the right noises last week. For the sake of young Tasmanians, let’s hope he turns those words into action.”

ENDS

Vaping Survey 3

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Tasmanians are now eligible for free flu shot ahead of the 2023 flu season

We are urging Tasmanians to act now and make the most of free influenza vaccinations, with flu cases presenting early due to increased international travel and predicted to surge in the coming winter season.

“Getting a flu shot is your single best protection against catching the flu virus, and getting seriously ill from associated complications,” says St.LukesHealth Chief Operating Officer, Darren Harris.

Under the National Immunisation Program, free influenza vaccines are provided to some groups at a higher risk of flu-related complications. For those who aren’t covered by the Program, Tasmania’s leading not-for-profit health insurer St.LukesHealth is partnering again with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to make vaccinations free for members with Extras cover.

“The flu shot is important to the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians, so we want to make it as easy as possible for our members to get their flu shots, for free.” says Mr Harris.

It’s especially important for Tasmanians aged 65 years and older, children aged 6 months to 5 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, pregnant women or people with medical conditions placing them at-risk of severe influenza complications to get the flu shot.

The Cancer Council says cancer patients have a higher risk of complications if they catch the flu. “If you have or have had cancer your doctor may recommend getting both the flu shot and the pneumococcal vaccination,” says Cancer Council Tasmania Acting CEO, Abby Smith. “If it has been recommended for you, it is important for you to get the vaccination to protect yourself.

“If you cannot get the flu vaccination, encourage family and friends you are interacting with to get vaccinated, as this will avoid them passing the infection on to you, which can put you at higher risk of serious illness if you are immunocompromised.”

Pharmacy Guild of Tasmania President Helen O’Byrne says this year’s flu vaccines are now readily available at pharmacies or GP clinics across Tasmanian communities.

“As pharmacists we understand that over the last couple of years due to lockdowns and border closures not a lot of flu has been circulating and many people have not received their usual seasonal influenza vaccination which places them and the broader community at risk,” says Ms O’Byrne.

“Where people have contracted COVID-19 their immune systems may be weakened - influenza vaccines will help with the immune response against infection. Flu vaccines, like COVID-19 vaccines, do not guarantee that a person will not get the virus but certainly reduce the risk of serious illness.”

“Covid is still circulating, so make sure you get your free Covid boosters - your local pharmacy can help you determine your eligibility, and both influenza and Covid vaccines can be given at the same time.”

Mr Harris says the flu shot is an easy measure everyone can take that has big consequences for their health, and the healthcare system. With local case numbers typically three to four weeks behind the mainland, it’s important Tasmanians act now and get vaccinated.

“We each have the power to do this one small thing – just get vaccinated – and avoid ending up in hospital with complications that could so easily be prevented.”

How to claim
People can check their eligibility for the free 
National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule, and St.LukesHealth vaccination benefit.

In partnership with the Pharmacy Guild of Tasmania, St.LukesHealth members can visit our website  to make an appointment at a participating pharmacy. They simply present their St.LukesHealth card to receive their free vaccination, no payment or claim needed. Pharmacists can administer flu vaccinations to people aged 5 and over.
 
ENDS

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Construction starts on health and wellbeing hub in the heart of Hobart

The first stages of construction have started on a new health and wellbeing hub in the heart of Hobart’s CBD, which will see an unused, prime piece of real estate transformed into an inclusive space for the whole community.

St.LukesHealth will open its new centre mid this year, with the aim of empowering Tasmanians with the knowledge they need to take control of their own health and wellbeing, including how to navigate the state’s health system.

The new hubs design goal was to keep Tasmania in mind by creating a calm space with an exciting Blackheart Sassafras design feature. This was designed by local architects and built by local builders to create a welcoming environment for our visitors.
 
CEO Paul Lupo said many in the community struggled with health literacy or found the health system difficult to navigate, and the health hub aimed to help fill that gap.
 
“This is a prime central Hobart location, accessible to all, so it was important for us to make it something more than a store, more than a transactional space – we wanted to build something exciting and inclusive that goes to the heart of Tasmanians’ health and wellbeing,” Mr Lupo said.
 
“Late last year St.LukesHealth opened the doors of the building to the public, with interactive displays of ideas for the space, providing an opportunity for the community to vote on their favourite concepts as well as inviting new ideas.
 
“As well as seeking the public’s input, we have been working with other health sector leaders to plan out the use, including how the space can be used to increase access to other important community health organisations.”
 
Mr Lupo said St.LukesHealth would partner with other Tasmanian organisations to provide a rolling program of wellbeing activities and education.
 
“While we in the health sector work on the big systemic changes, this is a space where the public can already come to start improving their health and wellbeing, in a really tangible, accessible way,” he said.
 
“It often just takes a series of small steps – seeds we can sew here in this space – and this is just one of the ways St.LukesHealth is working towards our vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.”

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Private health rate rise deferred for St.LukesHealth members

Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer, St.LukesHealth, has deferred passing on any premium increases for its members until at least 1 July 2023, following the Federal Government approving private health insurers to increase their rates at an average of 2.9%.

“St.LukesHealth will soon be advising its members that it has achieved it lowest premium increase in the past 20 years. This has been aided by Australian Government’s reforms to inflated prostheses costs in Australia, albeit there is still considerably more work to be done in this space, and working constructively with providers to find new and innovative ways to provide more affordable care and greater access to services for our members.”

CEO Paul Lupo said as a Tasmanian insurer, St.LukesHealth understood the cost of living pressures families were facing across the state.

“We know people are finding the cost of living extremely challenging in the present economic climate, and we doing all we can to keep increases as close to zero as we can so as not to add to that burden,” Mr Lupo said.

“More than 86 per cent of our members are Tasmanian, and we understand that family budgets are just not stretching as far as many people need them to.

“With Tasmania’s CPI of 8.6 per cent outstripping the national average of 7.3 per cent, St.LukesHealth is doing what we can to make it as easy as possible for people to continue investing in their health care.”

Mr Lupo said the deferral continued St.LukesHealth’s long-term commitment to supporting Tasmanians and its members.

“This is the fourth time in four (4) years that St.LukesHealth has deferred increases in rate to alleviate cost pressures on members,” he said.

“We take our role in the community extremely seriously and we know what it means to support our members.

“We live here, we work here, and we understand that decisions made in interstate or overseas boardrooms don’t always factor in the real-life circumstances people are genuinely facing, and we understand the impact that can have.”

Mr Lupo said St.LukesHealth would continue lobbying for the Federal Government for further reforms to pass on greater prosthesis saving, changes that enable private health insurers to assist members in non-acute care settings and provide more help for people on lower incomes by restoring the private health insurance rebate,

“The rebate commenced at 30 per cent and was designed as a means-tested method of helping people afford private health insurance, allowing them to avoid relying on the overstretched public hospital system,” he said.

“This rebate has been eroded to the point it is now less than 24 per cent in some cases. Six per cent might not like sound like much, but it translates to Tasmanians missing out on millions of dollars in financial support, placing even more stress on people’s budgets.”

ENDS

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St.LukesHealth welcomes future-focused perspective to its Board of Directors

Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer St.LukesHealth has welcomed its newest board member, prominent Hobart futurist and DisruptiveCo Founder and Managing Director Katy Cooper.

Ms Cooper was officially appointed at the November 2022 board meeting. She takes on the role in addition to her position as Director City Futures for the City of Hobart, where her team is focused on engaging, creating and planning around future stories, strategic plans, urban design and mobility.

She is a certified Futurist, trained through Institute for the Future, POLI-Design at Milan Politechnik and Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies. She has also studied Disruptive Innovation at INSEAD.

“I’m thrilled to join the St.LukesHealth board because it’s an organisation willing to examine itself, the needs of its members and the whole Tasmanian community, and challenge the status quo,” says Ms Cooper. “The minute I heard St.LukesHealth’s ambitious vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet, I was sold.

“I firmly believe that no idea is too big, and by working through partnership we can achieve great things: values that St.LukesHealth shares. I’m looking forward to bringing my background in business strategy to help realise the company’s vision and goals.”

The appointment came as St.LukesHealth celebrated 70 years as Tasmania’s own not-for-profit health insurer, while setting its sights firmly on the future.

“We’re shaking up the health insurer business model: you shouldn’t have to be sick to get value from us,” says Mel Lukianenko, Chair of the St.LukesHealth Board. “We’re collaborating across the health and community sectors, helping to empower Tasmanians with the knowledge they need and finding new and different ways of motivating people to take control of their own health and wellbeing.

“We are so excited to welcome Katy to the team, because she brings a unique background and way of thinking to make sure we stay fresh and relevant going into the next 70 years.”

In addition to joining the St.LukesHealth Board in November 2022, Ms Cooper is a board member of Tasmanian Leaders Inc and Inclusive Innovations Tasmania. She is Program Director of FutureFest Tasmania and Founder and Managing Director at DisruptiveCo. She has 20 years’ experience in retail, customer experience and strategic management, human resources, financial services, tourism and hospitality and technology industries.

Ms Cooper’s appointment caps off an exciting few months for St.LukesHealth. In November the organisation launched the concept for a new health and wellbeing hub and customer care centre in Hobart, inviting the whole community as well as sector stakeholders in to consult on the service offering and program of activities in the space.

St.LukesHealth is also opening a new Rosny store to meet the needs of the growing eastern shore community and has launched an inspiring new brand campaign to challenge conventional thinking and drive generational change around health.

Katy Cooper

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Doors open for donations at new St.LukesHealth Rosny customer care centre

Can you spare some pantry staples to spread the Christmas cheer this year? Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer St.LukesHealth is joining forces with Clarence City Council and the Salvation Army to gather healthy food donations, ready to be handed out at the Clarence Christmas Brunch.

Over the coming week, eastern shore locals are encouraged to drop into the new St.LukesHealth customer care centre in Rosny Park with long-life items that form the makings of a meal.

“The annual Brunch provides everyone in our community with something to eat, somewhere to go, and someone to share Christmas with,” said The Salvation Army Clarence City Corps Officer, Major Joel Clifford. “Last year we served about 120 meals, and we also make the day special for our guests with gifts, vouchers and food hampers that can be won as lucky door prizes to take home.

“This couldn’t happen without the generous support of the local community and businesses. If you’re able, dropping off the basics for a square meal that could be put together into hampers will mean so much. Something simple where recipients can just add a couple of fresh ingredients to make a healthy dinner can make a huge difference.”

For example, a donation of pasta and sauce, rice and curry paste, or a burrito kit, along with some tinned veggies or legumes, could form the basis of a hearty meal hamper.

“St.LukesHealth is invested in the health and wellbeing of our members and the community as a whole, and good nutrition is a big preventative health focus,” said Kate Denmen, Southern Region Customer Care Manager. “That’s why we’re marking the opening of our new store by inviting people to drop off a meal donation for the Clarence Christmas Brunch, to ease the pressure on their neighbours who may need a helping hand right now.”

“We’re working towards our vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet, but that doesn’t always have to mean grand gestures – it can be as simple as facilitating community connections to make everyone’s Christmas a little brighter, and homes a little healthier.”

The new St.LukesHealth store is located at 2/7 Bayfield Street Rosny Park, and will be accepting food donations until Friday 23rd December. Currently a pop-up shopfront, it will remain open while fit-out is finalised early in the new year.

“We’re opening the Rosny Park customer care centre to meet the needs of growing eastern shore communities, who want easy access to discuss their families’ health cover needs face-to-face,” said Mrs Denmen.

With St.LukesHealth membership growing steadily as Tasmanians look to take control of their own healthcare, Hobartians can now access in-person customer service in the CBD, Kingston and on the eastern shore.

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Hobartians to help shape new inner-city health and wellbeing hub

What do you want from a new health and wellbeing hub in the heart of Hobart? Tasmanians are being invited to come in and have their say on the transformation of an iconic central space.

Across three interactive open days, Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer St.LukesHealth will be throwing open the doors of a new centre planned for the corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth streets.

People can come in and check out activity ideas pegged for the space – everything from therapy dogs to try-it-out sports days, partner pop-ups to lunchtime orchestral performances – and share their thoughts on what else they’d like to see.

“We want people’s input on the health topics they want to learn about, what needs demystifying, and what would make them feel welcome,” explains St.LukesHealth Chair Mel Lukianenko. “And I mean everyone – this will be a space for the whole community.

“While a lot of the ideas are really fun, our new space will also fill an important hole we’ve identified in Tasmania. We know a lot of people struggle to navigate the healthcare system for example, or are unsure where to turn for information on health topics.

“It’s all about helping to empower people with the knowledge they need and motivating Tasmanians in new and different ways to take control of their own health and wellbeing. When we’re happier and healthier, we’re more likely to get on top of health issues before they even arise. Prevention and early intervention eases the strain on our healthcare system as a whole, but we’re not always good at knowing and doing what’s best for us.

“This new centre is a tangible example of how, after 70 years as Tasmania’s own not-for-profit health insurer, St.LukesHealth is breaking the mould and working across the health sector to do things differently. You shouldn’t have to be sick to get value from us. It all goes towards our vision of making Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.”

The first open day was held on Saturday 19th November, to coincide with the Hobart Christmas Pageant. The building will remain open from 11am-2pm on the 21-22nd November, before the buildout begins.

“Health and wellbeing spaces are so important to add to the vibrancy of a city,” says Katy Cooper, who was appointed to the St.LukeHealth board on Wednesday and is Director City Futures for the City of Hobart. “It’s so exciting when an iconic central location is opened up as a public space.

“It’s even more exciting that Tasmanians are getting a unique opportunity to help shape the activities and experiences they want.
 
“I’m passionate about concepts that make Hobart a city for all, and help Tasmanians be our very best selves. I urge everyone to drop in, check out the interactive concepts, and have your say on what a hub should offer to be fun, informative, and ultimately help you improve your own health and wellbeing.”
 
As well as getting the public’s input, St.LukesHealth is also working with other health sector leaders to plan out the use, including how the space can be used to increase access to other important community health organisations. It will also be a new customer care centre for St.LukesHealth members.
 
It’s estimated the flagship centre will open to the public by mid next year.

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Cost of living pressures threaten to worsen public hospital waits

Cost of living pressures are poised to worsen already critical public hospital elective surgery waiting lists in Tasmania.

St.LukesHealth chief executive officer Paul Lupo said the rising cost of living could see Tasmanians with private health insurance leave their health fund and have no option but to be dependent on an already stretched public system for all of their health care.

“In the past two years, as a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tasmania’s public health system, about 10,000 Tasmanians took out health insurance with St.LukesHealth to ensure they could access the health care the needed.

“People clearly understood that the public system was facing significant pressure as it dealt with COVID-related impacts and decided to take responsibility for their own health care.

“But as cost-of-living pressures grow and family budgets are being crunched, there is a very real risk many of those people, particularly those on low or middle incomes, will have no option but revert to the public system where elective surgery waiting lists are already extremely high.

“In March, there were more than 9700 people waiting for elective surgery in the public system, where one in every three patients waits longer than the clinically recommended time for their procedure.

“People on low to middle incomes who have taken out private health insurance need every incentive and support to remain in their health fund and not add to the burden on the public system.

“More than half of all Tasmanians, about 275,000, have some form of private health insurance. Many of those are on low and middle incomes, but the federal government’s means-tested private health insurance rebate has eroded in recent years from 30 per cent to less than 25 per cent.

“While a five per cent rebate erosion may not appear much, it represents a loss of about $23 million from Tasmanian health insurance policy holders every single year.

“That money needs to come back to the Tasmanians who are not only putting their hand in their own pocket to help fund their health care but take pressure off the public system at the same time.”

Mr Lupo said with the private sector already performing two out every three elective surgeries in Tasmania, the public system would face further stress if people were forced out of private health insurance.

“The public hospital system is performing just one third of all elective procedures across the country yet it is perpetually at crisis point with lengthy delays for surgery. The queues will only get bigger if the federal government doesn’t do something to help people remain out of the public system.

“St.LukesHealth is calling on all parties at this election to reinstate the full 30 per cent means-tested private health insurance for low and middle income earners. Restoring the rebate will reduce demand on the public system and ultimately improve access to health care for all Tasmanians.”

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We're freezing our premium increases

A health insurer that supports members through the pandemic? Well, well, well!

We’re freezing premium increases until 1 July 2022.

St.LukesHealth is here to support members through COVID-19, not benefit from it.
 
Throughout the pandemic, we have looked for ways to help our members manage. We continually monitor our financial performance to sustainably and responsibly maximise returns to members. Over this time, we have continued to grow which allows us to positively impact the health of more people and continue improving service delivery to members in more efficient ways. In addition, we recognise that the pandemic has made it more difficult for some members to utilise the full value of their health insurance during 2021.
 
So, we’re giving back to members by freezing the current premiums until 1 July 2022.
 
We’re pleased to have been able to defer premium increases for the third year running, because we know this has a big impact. We have now supported members with more than $5.6 million in rate deferrals since the start of the pandemic.

Other ways St.LukesHealth is supporting members through COVID-19:

Helping you access healthcare: We made sure members could access the care they needed through 2021. We supported members with $108.8 million for hospital admissions, an 8.3% increase on 2020, and $40.7 million for extras, a 5.4% increase. St.LukesHealth continues to pay above the industry average in benefits for every member contribution dollar.
 
Making rapid antigen testing more accessible: Widespread testing is one of the most important measures for stemming the spread of COVID-19 and will become even more important as borders reopen. To help support our members with this cost, St.LukesHealth has introduced a one-off $20 benefit per eligible membership for the purchase of RAT kits, available to claim till the end of 2022. This additional benefit will not reduce any existing benefits on members’ current policies. 
 
Managing financial hardship: During the pandemic we have provided support to many members experiencing financial hardship, proactively reaching out to those who have been most severely impacted. We have a number of initiatives to support members who are doing it tough.  Please call 1300 651 988 to discuss an option that might be right for you.
 
We all have a vital role to play in limiting the spread of the virus. We encourage you to stay up-to-date with vaccination booster shots, get tested and isolate if you feel unwell, and remain kind and connected for your mental health. This is the best way we can protect those most vulnerable in our community, help reduce the strain on our health system, and show our thanks to our incredible health professionals.

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