Candidates in the 2022 Victorian election have a duty to provide better access to exercise services for
those living with chronic conditions, including serious mental health problems, according to peak body
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA).
The organisation, which represents more than 10,000 accredited exercise professionals nationally, has
identified five areas of significant opportunity for the next Victorian Government to enhance
prevention, intervention, and the treatment of chronic conditions, to support Victorians to lead healthy
and active lives.
ESSA Chief Executive Officer Anita Hobson-Powell said with mental health becoming one of the most
prevalent issues of our time, those struggling with serious concerns should be able to access
comprehensive care which includes treatment from an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
“There are many people in Victoria who are struggling with life limiting conditions that would benefit
from being able to access the services of an exercise physiologist. At present, these tertiary trained
exercise professionals are not regularly included as a member of most multidisciplinary mental health
teams,” she explained.
“Exercise physiology and exercise science services provide cost effective and clinically proven solutions
to support good health, the economy, and multidisciplinary person-centred health care.
“Increased investment in exercise services by accredited exercise professionals will help the next
Victorian Government support broader health care reform by improving health outcomes, which
supports the sustainability of the health care system.
“There is no better time to recognise the important role exercise plays in helping people to deal with
serious conditions which threaten their quality of life.”
North Melbourne based Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) Danny Kolsky knows first-hand the
benefits of exercise as he works with people who have battled mental health issues for years.
“Consumers with serious and enduring mental illness have a life expectancy around 14 to 21 years lower
than the general population, and they've got much higher chronic physical health diseases such as
diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,” he explained.
Danny says he is only able to help a small percentage of those who could really benefit from his
guidance and ongoing treatment, because of a lack of funding and general awareness of the key role
exercise physiologists like himself can play in returning quality of life to those who have often lost all
“When Liz first started working with me, she wasn't doing any exercise. She was quite isolated. Her
anxiety was taking over many aspects of her life. She wasn't very socially connected,” Danny said.
“We started with one-on-one exercise sessions, working on goals that she wanted to achieve. And then
gradually, I got Liz into doing group exercise so that she could meet others with similar challenges. And
now, she is exercising much more regularly, her anxiety has improved, she’s connected to many more
individuals through exercise, and exploring other aspects of her life that previously she wasn't able to
A dysfunctional upbringing severely impacted Liz’s sense of self and well-being and while she admits it is
an ongoing battle, says Danny’s intervention has helped her turn a corner.
“I can see that there are a lot of people struggling with their mental health and I want to show them it is
possible to achieve peace in your life if you have the right support and keep working hard at it. It is a
lifelong journey, but it does get easier,” she said.
“Liz is one of the lucky ones, able to access an accredited exercise physiologist as part of a
multidisciplinary treatment plan for her health condition,” Anita Hobson-Powell added.
“There are tens of thousands of other Victorians who cannot, even though we know that physical
activity and exercise interventions provide high quality clinical and cost-effective solutions which can
help the health care system better respond to the growing burden of disease.
“We ask candidates to prioritise the inclusion of exercise services across the state’s health system.”
ESSA’s five policy priorities are:
• Increase access to exercise physiology for people with mental health conditions
• Expand access to exercise physiology for people with cancer
• Improve access to exercise physiology for workers with chronic and complex injuries, including
• Expand access to exercise physiology for people with diabetes and other chronic diseases
• Increase preventive health investment to 5% of total annual health expenditure.
You can read more about each policy priority for the 2022 Victorian Election online , plus access a video
of ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist Danny Kolsky and his client Liz there or via YouTube .