A proposed National Strategy on Body Image

A proposed National Strategy on Body Image (PDF)

2022 • 50 Pages • 1.37 MB • English
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Summary of A proposed National Strategy on Body Image

A proposed National Strategy on Body Image BY THE NATIONAL ADVISORY GROUP ISBN 978-0-642-77896-3 (PDF) ISBN 978-0-642-77897-0 (RTF) ISBN 978-0-642-77898-7 (PRINT) Cover image designed by Christine Le, 34 Kensington st, Punchbowl, NSW 2196 © Commonwealth of Australia 2009 This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney General’s Department, Robert Garran Offices, National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 or posted at http://www.ag.gov.au/cca CONTENTS CHAIR’S FOREWORD 1 MINISTER’S FOREWORD 2 SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS 4 INTRODUCTION 10 A NATIONAL AND STRATEGIC APPROACH 14 INDUSTRY AND POPULAR CULTURE 18 INDIVIDUALS AND THEIR IMMEDIATE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT 26 ATTACHMENT A—VOLUNTARY INDUSTRY CODE OF CONDUCT 38 ATTACHMENT B—CHECKLIST FOR BODY IMAGE FRIENDLY SCHOOLS 42 iv 1 CHAIR’S FOREWORD It is with great pleasure that, on behalf of the National Advisory Group, I present the Hon Kate Ellis MP, Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth, with this proposal for a National Strategy on Body Image. I commend this report to the Government and look forward to the response. I’d like to pay tribute to the wonderful group of people in the Advisory Group and the expertise that they have brought to this work. I have learnt an enormous amount from them. I’d also like to thank everyone who contributed to the online consultation. It is clear that there is a huge amount of public support for the Government to address body image and there are some amazing things already being done within the community. I have always felt strongly about body image. It troubles me that so many people, particularly young people, feel unhappy with their bodies. Whether it’s girls comparing themselves with the unrealistic images they see in the media and thinking they’re not tall or skinny enough or boys feeling they need to bulk up or slim down. All too often this translates to feelings of inadequacy and, in some cases, mental illness. How did we as a society let young people get the message that so much of their self-worth is tied to their physical appearance? We have a duty to support young people and to encourage them to achieve their full potential. That is what this Strategy is about. It is about getting people who are in positions of influence to look out for the needs of young people. This includes young people themselves as one of the biggest influencers of their peers. The Strategy recommends that the Government work with, guide and build on the different efforts already taking place in schools, community groups, online, families, workplaces and industry. With regard to the fashion, media and advertising industries, it is clear that people in these industries have a tremendous amount of influence in determining what our society looks like. And it’s time that all of us involved in these industries started to be more responsible with this influence. The introduction of an Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image provides an opportunity for organisations to get on board and take action based on what they believe. Let me also throw in a word of warning to business here – the excuses for maintaining the status quo are becoming increasingly less acceptable. There is only so much people will accept before they say ‘enough’. As I have previously written, many people make a living from pushing the boundaries, but they need to realise that the boundaries can push back – and this is happening with body image. The community is saying that they want a more diverse and realistic depiction of women and men within the media. I hope the introduction of the Code pushes this along. So, let me encourage you to stop and think about where you want to be, and how you want to be perceived, in relation to your contribution to the issue of body image. If you’re on the same path as us, look for opportunities to put it into practice. You might be surprised by the response. Mia Freedman 2 MINISTER’S FOREWORD There’s no doubt that body image pressures affect the wellbeing and quality of life of many Australians. Negative body image is not a passing teenage fad. It’s a mainstream problem that affects both genders and concerns people of all ages, but it most acutely threatens the health, confidence and self esteem of our young people. The scientific evidence shows this and young people themselves are telling us this - loud and clear. The importance of addressing this issue is clear. Submissions to the Australian Government’s online consultation on body image revealed a consensus that something must be done to tackle the unrealistic images of beauty portrayed in our culture. Images that are largely unattainable through healthy behaviour. The number of young Australians who feel bad about how they look is reaching epidemic proportions. Some young girls are starving themselves to emulate the ideal they see – an ideal that’s often digitally manipulated by the media. Shockingly, these young girls can be as young as six. Governments have a role to play in addressing body image problems, particularly when the wellbeing of our community is at stake. By working together, Governments - in partnership with industry and the community - can make a difference to the lives of young Australians. My goal is to help young people build the confidence and resilience they need to beat this insidious phenomena. I want young Australians to be comfortable and confident and have the tools to combat negative body image pressures so that they are able to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. I believe that working together on a national approach is the best way to tackle the problem of negative body image. I know that this is complex and partnerships with the media, the health sector, the fashion industry and parents are the only way we’ll achieve success. In March this year, I established the National Advisory Group on Body Image to provide advice to Government. Members were drawn from the health sector, the fashion and media industries and the community. I’d like to thank each of the members of the Advisory Group for volunteering their time and expertise. I particularly thank the Chair, Mia Freedman, for her leadership in the development of this report. I’m pleased to accept the Advisory Group’s report and commit to working with my colleagues and others on how we can best take these ideas forward. I look forward to building on this important work and the effective community and Government initiatives that are already in place, to develop a national approach to help Australia’s young people. The Hon Kate Ellis MP Minister for Youth SUMMARY OF RECOMMEN DATIONS 4 SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS A NATIONAL AND STRATEGIC APPROACH (PAGE 11) 1. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that, in progressing the development of a National Strategy on Body Image, the Australian Government engage with and support existing expertise, resources and organisations. 2. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � formalise information sharing among the federal and state and territory governments to ensure research, best practice initiatives and resources are shared and that national moves to address body image are supported by all levels of government. � maintain and expand the Register of Interested Parties as a means of creating a network of concerned people from the public, industry, community organisations, and academics and health practitioners. � use the Register of Interested Parties to encourage, support and inform these stakeholders so that they are better able to promote positive body image messages within their spheres of influence, including relevant industries. 3. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � ensure activities undertaken under the Strategy are evaluated and that resources are allocated for this. � take a considered approach to evaluation with the aim of informing the development of future initiatives designed to support and maintain positive body image. � incorporate a process of continual feedback as part of the implementation of each initiative. 5 VOLUNTARY INDUSTRY CODE OF CONDUCT ON BODY IMAGE (PAGE 15) 4. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that: � the Australian Government commit to implementing, promoting and supporting the proposed voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image and the associated good practice principles. � the Australian Government maintain the Code as a working document that is revised in response to industry and public feedback, technological developments and emerging issues. � the Australian Government monitor the support for the Code across relevant industries to determine the effectiveness of the Code. � If, after a sustained period of continued development, government support and promotion, there is a broad failure among industry to adopt good body image practices, the Australian Government should look to review the voluntary nature of the Code. 5. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that: � organisations who show support for the Code be publicly recognised. This could be done, for example, through the use of logos and a public listing of the supporting organisations. � in keeping with the voluntary nature of the Code, individual organisations who indicate support for the Code be the primary point of responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the Code within their business practices. � organisations who wish to support the Code be asked to make their support public, including if they intend to support certain principles of the Code, or all relevant aspects of the Code. 6. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � approach and select body image spokespeople who are credible and expert on body image issues, either from a health and wellbeing or relevant industry perspective. � provide spokespeople with training and other ongoing support as is appropriate for the role. � distribute the list of spokespeople to relevant stakeholders. 6 7. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government develop an evidence base demonstrating the commercial benefits associated with business adopting positive body image practices, and promote these findings throughout relevant industries. 8. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government provide industry awards that recognise best practice with regard to body image. In doing this, Government could give preference to incorporating awards into existing industry processes and using public voting systems to determine award recipients. STANDARDISED SIZING (PAGE 19) 9. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that, as part of the introduction of standardised sizing, the Australian Government consider consulting body image experts and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry representatives who are concerned with body image issues to: � ensure sizing labels do not encourage competitive weight loss. � develop positive body image messages that can be distributed with Government communications on the introduction of standardised sizing to industry and consumers. PUBLIC ADVOCACY (PAGE 20) 10. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � inform members of the public of mechanisms they can use to raise concerns regarding body image messages. � liaise with the administrators of existing commercial, regulatory and self regulatory mechanisms to determine the basis on which body image related decisions are considered. � where appropriate, provide evidence to inform the basis on which decisions in relation to body image issues are made. SCHOOLS (PAGE 22) 11. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � makes the positive body image checklist available as a resource for schools to adopt. � considers the issue of body image in the development of the national curriculum, within the health and physical education curriculum. 7 � collaborates with state and territory government and non-government education authorities to encourage schools to address body image, through: – the use of short-term school curricula. – funding for reputable organisations to deliver body image initiatives within schools. – informing teachers of appropriate and best practice opportunities to incorporate body image issues within teaching and learning. TERTIARY EDUCATION (PAGE 24) 12. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government consider encouraging Universities and Registered Training Providers such as TAFES to incorporate positive body image messages and practices within institutional cultures and curriculum where appropriate. FAMILIES (PAGE 25) 13. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � provide appropriate information to parents and carers to assist them in fostering positive body image messages in the home. � note the impact of maternity on body image and explore the adequacy of current efforts in this area. ONLINE (PAGE 27) 14. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � commission the development of a digital strategy to provide a holistic approach to the use of the internet as a means of promoting positive body image messages and resources. � develop digital partnerships with influential online stakeholders to facilitate the distribution of positive body image messages. � investigate and engage viral messaging to encourage positive body image. 8 WORKPLACES (PAGE 28) 15. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � identify key organisations and industries where body image is likely to be a significant issue. � engage with these organisations and industries to determine how positive body image policies and training could most effectively be incorporated into their workplaces. � support organisations to introduce positive body image practices. � consider including body image as an employment issue within the Young Workers Code of Conduct, Toolkit or other supporting information as appropriate. COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS (PAGE 29) 16. The National Advisory Group on Body Image recommends that the Australian Government: � work with the Australian Sports Commission and peak sporting bodies to respond to the body image issues raised in the report on the participation of women in sport. � work with relevant sports and artistic agencies and bodies to support strategies to encourage positive body image. � work with community groups to provide them with appropriate body image information and messages. INTRO DUCTION 10 INTRODUCTION The Advisory Group was established by the Minister for Youth, the Hon Kate Ellis MP, to provide advice to Government on an approach to address the growing problem of body image dissatisfaction in the general community, particularly among young people. The Members of the National Advisory Group on Body Image1 are: Ms Mia Freedman (Chair) Journalist and former Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine Ms Sarah Cornish Editor Girlfriend and TV Hits magazines Prof David Forbes School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia Ms Helen Gazal Fashion industry businesswoman Ms Kerry Graham CEO Inspire Foundation Ms Raina Hunter YWCA Mrs Sarah Murdoch Model/television producer Prof Susan Paxton Head of School of Psychological Science La Trobe University Ms Ruth Pollard President The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance Ms Amanda Scott Youth representative, currently the Chair of the NSW Youth Advisory Council. Ms Claire Vickery Founder and CEO Butterfly Foundation 1 The Advisory Group is also thankful for the contributions of Ms Belinda Seper, Mr Chris Warren, Ms Julie Parker and Dr Philippa Collin. 11 THE TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE NATIONAL ADVISORY GROUP ON BODY IMAGE The National Advisory Group on Body Image will provide advice to the Minister for Youth on: � Strategic opportunities to advance a national, co-ordinated approach to help tackle body image in Australia in partnership with states and territories and stakeholders. � Successful local and overseas initiatives addressing body image, and explore how they can be best applied to Australia at a national level. � Opportunities for Government to engage with industry on an ongoing basis, to ensure initiatives build and gather momentum and effectiveness over time. � The development of a voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image that provides guidance on the responsible portrayal of body image by the media, advertising and fashion industries. � Strategies and partnerships with the media, advertising and fashion industries that aim to promote the Code and identify further opportunities to minimise the prevalence of potentially harmful images and to promote positive and healthy body images and self esteem, particularly to young Australians. � Emerging themes and issues associated with body image and how Government can move towards early identification and response to new issues and new technologies. CONSULTATIONS To support the development of the Strategy, an online consultation process was held between 6 May and 5 June 2009. Through this consultation, 150 submissions were received - the majority of respondents were individuals and community organisations, including young people, teachers, youth workers, social workers and psychologists. A summary of responses is published at www.youth.gov.au/bodyimage.html. INFORMATION PAPER The consultation process was supported by a paper prepared by the Australian Government Office for Youth. The paper outlines the issue of negative body image in the community, including factors that contribute to its development, and existing measures to address it. The paper is also available at www.youth.gov.au/bodyimage.html.

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