ESSA Statement: Federal Government to be congratulated on health focus however guidelines and strategy should be in place

An article by News Corp over the weekend titled, ‘Public servants receiving hundreds of dollars in ‘lifestyle’ allowance’ has stated that over $2 million has been provided to public servants as a ‘lifestyle contribution allowance’.

The article is critical of the initiative which did not require any proof or receipts from staff who accessed the fund and that staff must only, “certify that they will use the payment in the manner for which it is intended”.

“Organisations providing funding to staff to improve their health and well-being is nothing out of the norm and should actually be encouraged as the country faces increasing rates of obesity and chronic conditions,” explains Anita Hobson-Powell, Chief Executive Officer of Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA).

“Even here at ESSA, we provide staff with an allowance to support their health and well-being, however the guidelines we provide ensure that this allowance is being used correctly and benefits staff as much as possible.”

“We would suggest the Federal Government provide funding for staff to access the services of an appropriately trained and accredited exercise professional and seek receipts for proof.”

“For example, our Accredited Exercise Scientists are experts who undergo university training and adhere to strict standards and guidelines and are perfectly positioned to help sedentary office workers change lifestyle behaviour.”

"Spending money on a pair of joggers may not spur an individual to change, however having the support and encouragement of an exercise professional will,” explains Anita.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with government to assess protocols and measurement tools to ensure we are all working towards a healthier workforce in Australia.”


Research shows that employers who run health and well-being programs do so because they want to:
  • Improve work performance and productivity;
  • Reduce costs associated with absenteeism, presenteeism, disability and workers’ compensation;
  • Improve the culture of the organisation and retain existing employees; and
  • Improve the organisation’s image, attract talented employees and fulfil corporate social responsibility obligations.

When an Australian study considered the combined effects of self-rated work performance and absenteeism data, they found that the healthiest employees are almost three times more effective than the least healthy, with the healthiest employees working approximately 143 effective hours per month compared to 49 effective hours per month by the least healthy.

To contact our local accredited exercise professional, visit the ESSA website.