Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Friday, December 2, 2016

GREAT OUTDOORS: There are plenty of exercise options in our region that aren't expensive, says reader Wendy Webb.

GREAT OUTDOORS: There are plenty of exercise options in our region that aren't expensive, says reader Wendy Webb.

THANK you Newcastle Herald for keeping the issue of poor diet and obesity before your readers. It is an important personal matter as well as a public health concern but I would like to challenge the assumption that unhealthy food options are cheaper than healthy food. 

The tap water in our area is clean, palatable, always available and cheaper than any other drink. I believe that fruit and vegetables from the shops in season, or grown in the garden, cost less than processed food, particularly sweets and snack foods. 

Healthy, low fat cereals for breakfast are not more expensive than the high fat and sugary alternatives. Oatmeal porridge is particularly healthy, cheap, filling and suitable for all ages.

Lunch made at home – such as a vegemite, cheese or salad sandwich – is not as expensive as a pie, hamburger or hot chips. 

Even protein foods such as meat, chicken, eggs and fish – if one looks out for bargains and uses less meat and more vegetables, as the health guidelines suggest – need not be overly expensive, certainly not more than paying for takeaway food.

Food can be simply and cheaply prepared at home. We do not all have to be Master Chefs to enjoy a healthy diet and to teach children the skills they need to sustain healthy habits through life.

Our beautiful area also provides many paths and parks for walking and exercise, so paying for gym membership is not necessary for keeping fit. Everybody needs to look at the overall cost of healthy living versus unhealthy living.

If a family eats well and exercises, costs of health care are likely to be lower and absenteeism from school and work is reduced. These ideas are not new. Why is it so difficult to translate this knowledge into personal action? I support calls for a sugar tax, but should we really need the government to tackle these issues for us?

Wendy Webb, Belmont

Rebellion no solution

JOHN Grant is only the chairman of the Australian Rugby League commission, isn’t he?

If the 16 NRL clubs have taken a vote of no-confidence against him, haven’t they actually taken a vote of no-confidence against the commission directors they elected?

Getting rid of Grant won’t remove the directors who have instituted the funding decisions he is announcing.

It appears to me that the running of our “greatest game of all” is a mess, with the richer clubs getting further ahead of the themselves and wanting to remain powerhouses while the lesser clubs can please themselves.

Come on administrators. Show some common sense for a refreshing change. Put what is best for the game first, and stop these threats ruining what we already have.

David Crich, Tenambit

Join the volunteers

INTERNATIONAL Volunteer Day – December 5 – is a time for us to reflect on the immense contribution volunteers make to our society and thank them for all that they do. Red Cross is an organisation built on voluntary service, made up of 17 million volunteers worldwide.

Volunteers help us save lives, build resilient communities, support people in disaster, and prevent and alleviate human suffering in times of war and conflict.

Every day throughout the year, our 35,000 members and volunteers in Australia improve the well-being of those who are experiencing extreme vulnerability. I can’t thank them enough for their time, energy and commitment, and I feel privileged to work alongside them.

Voluntary service not only helps the recipients, but also the volunteers whose lives are enriched by the act of giving.

We aim to build an inclusive, diverse and active humanitarian movement based on voluntary service.

I strongly urge you to join our humanitarian movement and help your community by visiting 

Penny Harrison, Australian Red Cross

Protect the children

WITH the end of the Royal Commission, there will be people who have been sexually abused as children in churches and other institutions who feel they are forgotten or have lost their chance to speak out.

We encourage these people to speak to police, or a trusted friend. We believe all children should feel safe, cared for, nurtured, loved, provided for and protected. We call for safeguards to be put in place in churches, institutions and wherever children are in the care of others.

Colin and Julie Robinson, Cardiff


THE Australian Medical Association’s new policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide released last week proves wrong Sarah Taylor’s claim (‘Power and compassion of assisted dying’, Letters, 28/11) that doctor opposition to these practices is about power and control over dying.

It says that requests for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide may be associated with conditions such as depression or other mental disorders, dementia, reduced decision-making capacity and/or poorly controlled clinical symptoms.

As for subjecting patients to animal cruelty, the AMA says all dying patients have the right to receive relief from pain and suffering, even where this may shorten their life.  The real choice Australia’s ‘Doctor Death’ Philip Nitschke offers is death on demand whether you are sick or not. Remember Nancy Crick?

In the Netherlands, one in 25 deaths is the consequence of assisted dying, not always for medical reasons. There are also about 300 non-voluntary deaths or illegal killings annually. A new draft law there would force doctors who refuse to administer euthanasia to refer patients to someone who will.

Peter Dolan, Lambton

Veterans neglected

ON the news on Sunday night was a story of a one-legged veteran living in a caravan which had been burnt out.

What on earth are we doing when a disabled veteran is reduced to living in a caravan?  Every returned serviceman deserves the right to a decent life upon return, whether they need treatment for PTSD or some other injury, or whether they come home unscathed.  

We send them away from their families to fight our enemies – where is our empathy when they return?

Janice Armstrong, Charlestown