Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Walk Safely to School Day

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Deputy Prime Minister and
    The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing

The Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, and Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today joined together to encourage all school kids and parents to participate in the annual Walk Safely to School day.

Today parents and carers of Australia’s 1.9 million primary aged students are encouraged to walk with their children to school, promoting healthy habits whilst learning about road rules and safety.

Walk Safely to School Day is a national event supported by the Australian Government where primary schools across the country will promote the benefits of walking through activities such as supervised walks to school and hosting healthy breakfasts.

In recent years, changes to our lifestyle and environments have led to many more Australian children being driven to school, rather than walking or riding a bike.

Car dependency is an unhealthy trend as, according to a 2007 national survey, about a quarter of all 7 to 15-year-olds in Australia were overweight or obese.

Regular physical activity is especially important for children’s healthy growth and development and creates lifelong healthy habits.

Walking to school with your child or having your child participate in a supervised walk to school also helps to teach and reinforce important road safety and road crossing skills.

Today’s Government-supported walking event is just one of a range of initiatives that aim to tackle overweight and obesity in Australia’s children and establish healthy lifestyles early in life. Others include:

  • the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Project, which is teaching children about the benefits of growing their own food and healthy eating;
  • the Get Set 4 Life – Habits for Healthy Kids Guide for parents, that provides information about healthy living habits for young children;
  • the Healthy Kids Check, which provides a health check for all four-year-olds, helping to ensure they are fit and ready to learn when they start school;
  • the National Healthy School Canteens Project to help school canteens provide healthy food choices and promote healthy eating;
  • the Get up and Grow resources that support and promote healthy eating and physical activity for children in centre-based care, family day care and preschools;
  • The National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health to increase physical activity and improve the nutrition of children aged under 16 through child care centres, pre-schools, schools and families.

Walk Safely to School Day is organised by the Pedestrian Council of Australia. Information on how to take part can be found on the website.