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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
22 March 2006
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, is encouraging primary school children, their parents and carers across Australia to walk to school on national Walk Safely to School Day, Friday 7 April.
Senator Campbell said people taking part in the event would contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduced air and noise pollution – as well as saving money.
"One of the biggest contributors to common air pollutants is the motor vehicle, with private cars contributing about 16 per cent of greenhouse gases in Australia. Emissions are particularly bad on short trips when they can be the most toxic," Senator Campbell said.
"As well as producing large volumes of air pollution, traffic at school drop-off areas is noisy and creates congestion which can present a safety risk. By walking more for short trips, we have an opportunity to help improve the environment by reducing vehicle exhaust emissions and improve the health of our children by encouraging exercise."
Senator Campbell said cars, traffic congestion, parent frustration, pollution and children made an unhealthy mix.
"We can all play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the quality of life for ourselves and our communities and enhancing the future of our children," he said.
"Walking all or part of the way to school on Walk Safely to School Day is a great way to get started."
Walk Safely to School Day is an initiative of the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA), sponsored by the Australian Government and supported by each State and Territory Government, the Heart Foundation, Diabetes Australia, Cancer Council, Beyond Blue and the WA Police.
Walk Safely to School Day aims at instilling healthy lifestyle habits at a young age and reinforcing to children safe pedestrian behaviour.
PCA Chairman Harold Scruby said the day was also about teaching children vital road safety skills.
"To reduce the number of accidents involving our children, we need to take the message right across Australia and make sure children up to 10 years old are holding the hand of an adult whenever crossing the road," he said.
"Walking to school with a child is a great way to teach the road safety message. Parents and carers who must drive can help by leaving the car half a kilometre from school and walking with their child or children the rest of the way. That way parents and children become more physically active, children learn vital road-crossing skills, traffic congestion around the school is reduced and motor-vehicle air pollution is cut – everyone wins," Mr Scruby said.
For more information visit www.walk.com.au
Renae Stoikos (Senator Campbell's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
Walk Safely to School Day - Cath Sutherland 0403 000 202