Public Announcements

DAA responds to freelance journalist, Michael West

Michael West is a freelance journalist with two decades experience working as a journalist, stockbroker, editor and finance commentator. Mr West approached DAA on Friday 24 November 2017 indicating his intention to write a blog post and asked us for comment. When he published his blog post the following day, we were pleased to note our answers were included in full.

Mr West’s questions and our answers:

The DAA financial statements show in the Revenue note “membership fees”. Are these for corporations as well as individuals?

Membership fees relates to the number of financial members, as per the calendar year. Members of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) include qualified dietitians (who have gained a recognised dietetics qualification through an accredited university program or have completed the dietetics skills recognition exam) or dietetics students enrolled in an entry level dietetics qualification in Australia. Dietitians living overseas and registered with a national dietetic association can also be affiliate members of DAA. Revenue from Corporate Partners and Sponsors are not included under ‘Membership fees’.

Does advertising, sponsorship, conference etc revenue come from DAA’s corporate partners?

Income for corporate partnerships is included under ‘Advertising and sponsorship’, along with advertising and sponsorship revenue from other companies. Corporate partnership revenue remains stable at 8% of total income across both 2016 and 2017. The largest contribution from a single corporate partner is 1.1% of total income. So, income from Corporate Partnerships makes up a small portion of DAA’s overall income. By limiting the amount of financial support we receive from our Corporate Partners, we ensure that none has enough financial leverage to compromise our independence.

Why are related party transactions – Note 15 – not individually disclosed? What are they?

Note: DAA was unable to obtain this information in the time-frame required by Mr West, due to the level of financial information required.

Does DAA have commercial (advertising sponsorship membership etc) relationships with The Australian Beverages Council or Diabetes Living Magazine?

DAA does not currently have a partnership with these companies. We provided comments for an article in Diabetic Living Magazine earlier this year, after they approached us in response to our media release on ‘budget friendly foods to help university results’.

Has DAA been involved with research into the effect of low carb diets on diabetes?

DAA is an organisation which operates to advance and promote nutrition and dietetics in Australia, as well as provide a regulatory function in university program accreditation and credentialing for Accredited Practising Dietitians. Many of our members undertake research in various health and nutrition related fields, however DAA as an organisation is not involved in clinical research.

Has DAA made representations to active or potential corporate sponsors and partners that partnership with DAA would be a way to increase sales because of the influence of dietitians?

Previous conference sponsorship prospectuses and communications with potential partners have included wording as such. Our current strategic plan aims to positively influence the food supply. We undertake a risk assessment process before entering into all agreements for sponsorship or partnership.

Our National Conference is an opportunity to inform our members of foods that are available in the commercial market, to increase their knowledge about the food products that their clients may be choosing, so APDs in turn can promote healthier options. We have robust processes in place to determine who can exhibit at our conference and what they can exhibit.

Working with Corporate Partners allows us to extend evidence-based nutrition messages further and improve the health of Australians more than we could do on our own. Importantly, we ensure that activities undertaken with each Corporate Partner are in line with our vision and mission, and relate to our profession. We have a number of protections in place to ensure that our Corporate Partners do not influence our decision making within DAA. These include binding legal contracts, robust and  transparent policies and procedures and a risk assessment process before any partnership takes place.

Financial independence is paramount to DAA, and as illustrated in question 2, only a small portion of total income is provided by our corporate partners.

We maintain our transparency with our partnerships and information about these are publicly available via our Corporate partners and Alliances webpage.

DAA is open and transparent about the fact that we partner with a range of organisations. We are passionate about working in a number of areas to support Australians in improving health through good nutrition. We work together with government, the food industry, public health advocates, the media, and others because we care deeply about inspiring and supporting Australians to eat better, be healthier and live life to the full.

Our information sheet DAA Corporate Partnerships: The Facts outlines more about our partners and the processes around our partnerships.

Peter FitzSimons’ opinion piece in Fairfax newspapers

Fairfax newspapers published an opinion piece by well-known public figure Peter FitzSimons today, which questioned our member-based association.

DAA is passionate about working across the board to support Australians towards good nutrition. We’re here to work together with everybody from the food industry, to public health advocates, to celebrities like Peter FitzSimons, because we care deeply about inspiring and supporting Australians to eat better, be healthier and live life to the full. Read our response to the opinion piece here.

Marika Sboros series of blog posts

DAA is aware of a series of blog posts by Marika Sboros, starting on 23 January 2017. We provided responses to the many questions Ms Sboros (who is not based in Australia) asked of us over several months in 2016.

From the outset, her line of questioning indicated her blog would be critical of DAA.

We feel this is unfortunate, given that we are deeply passionate about our role as independent advisors on nutrition science and our ability to help Australians make positive changes towards better health.

We respect that everyone has a different point of view.

From our perspective:

  • We support the evidence-based Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG), which were developed by independent experts in nutrition, working with the National Health and Medical Research Council.
  • The ADG provide population-based guidance on what to eat for good health. Accredited Practising Dietitians work with individuals, using Medical Nutrition Therapy, to find a dietary approach that best suits them to achieve their nutrition and health goals.
  • We are confident that working with all sectors, including industry, is the right thing to do.

We are proud of the work our valued spokespeople do in communicating nutrition science to the Australian public. We also value responsible and balanced journalism.

DAA and DAA members (made up of thousands of committed and professional nutrition scientists) are passionate about inspiring and supporting Australians to eat better and be healthier. We will continue to put our efforts into making a positive difference, working collaboratively with others to do so.

60 Minutes interview

We were recently approached by 60 Minutes for an interview as part of a story on Peter FitzSimons’ weight loss journey. The 60 Minutes story coincided with the launch of Peter’s new book. We thank our Spokesperson, Nicole Dynan, who was interviewed by 60 Minutes. Through Nicole, we presented a balanced message to this story, highlighting the many factors involved in weight management. Read about our position on the coverage of Peter FitzSimons’ weight loss story by 60 Minutes.