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Putting Council on a Diet

Australia has a serious obesity problem. Two-thirds of Australian adults are considered overweight and a full third are considered obese.

But what is the root cause?

Is it because our food system has become industrialized, mass produced, with large amounts of cheap fatty foods at our finger tips. In my opinion that isn’t why people get fat.

Food doesn’t just jump into our mouths, we could say no thanks and just walk on by, just like those fit and lean people do. You know, Diet.

There is another obesity problem, I have noticed, in Darwin, it is less visible physically, but it’s just as toxic, and, deadly.

We are living in an era of information and distraction overload. News, newspapers, radio, YouTube, blogs, vlogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, twitter, social interaction (as little as most people can take), TV, txts, phone apps and more every second of every day.

Most of it like the low nutrient, high calorie foods that we seem to be consuming, is junk, and we are consuming it in mass quantities.

Just like Food, information isn’t being overloaded its being overconsumed. The symptoms I have observed are depression, anxiety, distraction, diminished creativity, hyper-aggression and ignorance.

Just as our community needs to go on a diet, by avoiding high caloric, low nutrient foods, so do we need to reduce our consumption of TV and online commentary.

Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean we must consume it.

I found myself many years ago reading every page of the NT News, I was constantly angry and cut it down to Wicking and the real estate sections (I’m in Real Estate so that was obvious), when Darwin was spending so much time discussing the air-fare scandals etc of the last Government, I was getting listings, and making money.

Recently I decided to run for a Political seat in Council, my main forum for information was door knocking, social media, and the NT News. I found myself being constantly drawn into different people’s social and political agendas, most of which were based on minority view points and victim mentalities. I again found myself becoming disenchanted by the obvious prevalence of mental illness and welfare issues. These were federal issues and NT Government issues and not so much Council. But as popular as these issues are, the reality is that the little issues are worked out, when the big issues like, health, environment, accommodation, employment, education and taxation are dealt with. Council can help the other tiers of government on all these issues.

Whilst campaigning I took many notes, and discovered, just as the public requires alternative sources of healthy food, so does the community, and, those who would seek to advance it, need healthy sources of information.

Although I was unable to secure a seat on Council, I have created an Open Forum Page on Facebook called “Darwin Community Satisfaction Surveys”. This with an accompany of 16 directly relevant questions asked both on the forum and by cold calling 200-500 persons, once every quarter should eventually be able to deliver relevant feedback. It has been devised as a source for Council, the Darwin Community and stakeholders to have direct publicly produced data.

Major Council topics are linked and provided as a source of information. For me it is a way to gain information relevant to my concerns. I don’t give my own personal views on the page, linking several different articles on the same topic to allow the public to engage in discussion. It is not a Whinge page; the polls have very distinct answers.

This allows me, and, many others who have a direct interest, or, for some temporary interest in Council, to indulge in a relevant topic whilst abstaining from the rest.

The forum has already identified several current Council shortcomings, a lack of a public submission template for one, which several members of the public and a council member are attempting to rectify.

Realising that when seeking the information required, to truly understand the issues of the community, requires community engagement. The combination of low tech phone call surveying and online surveys will eventually be converted through advertisement revenue to an app, social media, phone call combination to provide direct open source data to the public.

It seems like a grand plan, it really isn’t, the ability to remain a third party is extremely important to remain unbiased. But after attending the first meetings and reading the minutes, there is belief, the independent route will provide less contention, and, eventually provide greater structure, and, direction for, and, from the public.

The project is only new, we hope to have 500 members by June next year, 1000 by December 2018. Admin positions will be opening in the new year.

Maybe the “Darwin Community Satisfaction Survey” can help our mental Diet? Whilst helping the community at the same time?

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