CAROLINE Wells says: I am sure that if you were to ask almost any Tasmanian what their vision for the state was they would offer an opinion.
In that respect there is not a lack of vision in Tasmania but rather a lack of a common vision and this has been our greatest weakness.
The state has been fractured by parochialism and division on a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues for far too long.
Until we can resolve these issues by finding common ground and reasonable compromise we will never be able to move forward as a state.
Only once we have achieved this can a common vision emerge that enables the development of a long- term plan for Tasmania.
This is a huge task, but one that must be taken on by all political parties and the community as a priority.
A new year provides the opportunity for a new beginning, so let 2013 be the year all Tasmanians are united and working together for that elusive common vision.
Education is a critical component of any vision; it is the foundation of a healthy society and economy.
Improvement in education outcomes would have immense economic benefits for the state, address much of the social disadvantage from which we currently suffer and enable people to better understand and engage with the issues we face.
I would like to see a more holistic approach to the issue of education, where it is not simply seen as the responsibility of government, but also of parents, relatives and friends to foster an environment for our children in which education is valued and in which life-long learning is encouraged.
Another significant issue that I would like to see is a greater focus on preventative health care.
There is increasing pressure on governments to address the escalating demands on the public health system, but much of this demand can be significantly reduced over time by greater investment in preventative health education and services to empower people to take greater responsibility for their own health.
Importantly we must also support people by effecting change at a policy level.
We are beginning to see recognition of the importance of preventative health, including the formation of the Joint Select Committee on Preventative Health Care.
It is important though that a long-term view is maintained and not just one that moves from one election cycle to the next.
But, prevention is just one element of the changes we need to make in our health system and they have to start with better planning and prioritisation.
We need to establish long-term priorities based on the fundamental social factors which impact on people's health, evidence-based clinical practice to determine the most cost-effective medical interventions and broad community consensus on the priorities.
In this process it will be necessary that the level of funding that governments can afford and the community is willing to pay is determined in order to realistically align services with the available resources on a long- term sustainable basis.
I think as a community we will find this an enormous challenge, but we must persevere, however hard it will be, to have these discussions.
My vision for Tasmania is a well-educated and healthy Tasmanian community that can actively engage in positive, informed debate about issues concerning the future of the state, which avoids the divisive and extremist politics of the past to find rational balance, and which is not only concerned with maximising present benefits but also looks to the future and to the positive impact on future generations.
There are many other issues we need to address in developing a vision for our state, but the important first step is to establish a firm foundation on which it can be built.
CAROLINE WELLS is the chief executive officer of Diabetes Tasmania.