Framing the nanny (state): an analysis of public submissions to a parliamentary inquiry on personal choice and community safety.
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OBJECTIVE: To examine public submissions to a parliamentary inquiry on personal choice and community safety, exploring framing used to support or oppose current public health regulatory approaches.
METHODS: Descriptive content analysis summarised the characteristics of electronic submissions. Framing analysis examined submissions according to the devices: problem and causes; principles and values; recommendations; data and evidence; and salience.
RESULTS: We categorised one hundred and five (n=105) submissions by source as Individual, Industry, Public Health and Other. Individuals made more than half the submissions. Overarching frames were choice and rights (Individuals); progress and freedom (Industry); protection and responsibility (Public Health). Most submissions opposed current regulations. Cycling, including mandatory helmet legislation, was most cited, with three-quarters of submissions opposing current legislation.
CONCLUSIONS: Framing analysis provided insights into policy actor agendas concerning government regulation. We found a high degree of resistance to public health regulation that curtails individual autonomy across various health issues. Investigating the influence of different frames on community perception of public health regulation is warranted. Implications for public health: Action is required to counteract 'nanny state' framing by industry and to problematise community understanding of the 'nanny state' in the context of balancing the public's liberties and the public's health.
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