Healthy Eating & Active Living Roundtable: the crucial role of quality HPE

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics ‘National Health Survey’, in 2017-18, “two-thirds of Victorian adults and almost one in four children aged two to seventeen years were overweight or obese”. 

In response to the need for obesity prevention to become a more pressing health priority, the ‘Healthier Start for Victorians’ consensus statement was launched on Tuesday 23 July 2019. 

The document outlines eight practical recommendations which could potentially impact the rising levels of obesity in Victoria. Given the focus on children and young people, it is not surprising at least two of these recommendations focus on the importance of school:

  • Recommendation #5: ‘Support schools to increase students’ physical activity and physical literacy’, and;
  • Recommendation #6: ‘Increase the scope and strengthen compliance with the Existing School Canteens and other school service policy’.

As Victoria’s leading members-based organisation focussed on educating children about the importance of physical activity and requisite knowledge, skills and understanding pertaining to movement and physical activity, we have advocated strongly for the importance of quality health and physical education (HPE).

During a live panel discussion at the consensus statement launch,  ACHPER Victoria Professional Learning Manager, Dr Bernie Holland highlighted the important role HPE teachers play in promoting and educating about the importance of movement and physical activity. Bernie said:

Sport Australia’s School Physical Literacy framework is a great place to start to help identify strengths, challenges and opportunities to develop high quality HPE and other opportunities to foster the physical, cognitive, psychological and social attributes associated with each individual’s professional learning capacities.”

“High quality HPE will only be possible if further professional support is provided to teachers which builds teacher capacity to deliver the HPE curriculum as intended. There are many high quality teachers and programs, but we also have many primary specialist HPE teachers who are, in essence, designated HPE teachers as they may have experienced only 1 or 2 subjects in their undergraduate teacher qualification.”

To ensure schools conduct the required amount of physical education and sport education the Victorian State Government Department of Education instated a Physical and Sport Education Policy which states the following mandated times for PE in:

Primary school:

  • Years P – 3: 20-30 minutes of physical education a day
  • Years 4 – 6: 3 hours per week of physical education and sport with a minimum of 50% of this time for physical education

Secondary school:

  • Years 7 – 10: 100 minutes each per week for physical education and sport education.

Adhering to the mandated PE times will help give children and young people a better chance at a healthier start to life by:

  • Increasing student knowledge about the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle
  • Helping develop skills, concepts and capacity across a range of activities from walking, cycling, dance etc. through to a range of sporting and recreational activities which enable lifelong physical activity.

To learn more about the ‘Healthier Start for Victorians’ consensus statement on obesity prevention, please visit VicHealth’s website, or check out the #HealthierStartVic hashtag on Twitter.

Watch the live stream of the 'A Healthier Start for Victorians: A Consensus Statement on Obesity Prevention' launch held at the Melbourne Museum >>


To access the document, please click the links below to download >>
If you have any questions or would like help implementing a high quality HPE program at your school that helps instil the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle, please get in touch.