Deliver better access to exercise services in NSW, demands ESSA

24 February 2023

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is calling on candidates for the 2023 New South Wales Election to support its five policy priorities, to ensure voters have better access to exercise services to support good health outcomes and a strong economy.

Under ESSA’s election platform, which has been developed in consultation with representatives from its 3,700 strong member base in NSW, whoever forms government is being asked to:

  • Improve access to exercise physiology for injured workers with chronic and complex injuries, including psychological injuries
  • Increase access to exercise physiology for people with mental health conditions, particularly people living in rural and remote communities
  • Expand access to exercise physiology for people with cancer
  • Improve access to exercise physiology for people with diabetes
  • Increase preventive health investment to 5% of total annual health expenditure, including physical activity

“These priorities provide significant opportunities for the next NSW Government to invest in and embed prevention, early intervention, and the treatment of chronic conditions and mental health in the health system for people to lead healthy and active lives,” ESSA CEO Anita Hobson-Powell said.

“People in NSW deserve better. They need better access to services that have been proven to help them with a range of serious health concerns.

“Improved health outcomes for the NSW population also mean a healthier, more sustainable health system, with fewer hospitalisations positively impacting the government’s health budget.”

ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist Devlin Higgins (pictured) can speak to the power of exercise services in turning around chronic conditions.

He is the only Exercise Physiologist at the Sydney hospital diabetes clinic where he works and wishes he could do a lot more to help those who need it.

“If we had more funding, over a week, I'd be able to see probably the necessary amount of patients I should be seeing for diabetes, but at the moment, there's definitely a waitlist of people, that I could be seeing that possibly are missed and slipping through the cracks,” he said.

“People that should be doing exercise aren't at the moment, particularly in diabetes care, even though it's been recommended and suggested so frequently, and commonly across healthcare teams, including GPS and specialists.”

One of Devlin’s current clients had never exercised before coming to see him. In his 50’s, the patient has now been attending regular appointments for two years.

“This person had done no exercise before coming to see me, it was never part of their regular routine.”

Devlin’s patient has now lost 28kg, down from 140kg, and his waist circumference has shrunk from 144cm to 114cm. He has nearly met his blood sugar control targets and is certainly better managed, and less at risk, in his diabetes care.

“I had no idea how powerful exercise would be for my diabetes and overall health,” Devlin’s client said of his journey.

“There is no way I would have participated in regular exercise if this service didn’t exist – I only got involved after my GP guided me towards it.

“My blood sugars, physical health, mental health and confidence has never been better – and a bonus of this is my doctor has lowered some of my diabetes medication!

“I finally feel comfortable to swim with my kids in confidence without fear of how my blood sugars will respond. I can’t stress enough how important Exercise Physiology is in Diabetes care.”

ESSA'S campaign for change in NSW includes mobilising its members to join in advocacy efforts, with resources available on its website for them to actively lobby their own local candidates or sitting members in the conversation.

For more detailed information about each of ESSA’s five policy priorities, visit: