Every year I read many applications for research grants, mostly for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Most start in roughly the same way: an estimate of the number of people suffering from the disease in question and the cost of the disease to the economy. From reading these applications, one would think the health of Australians is in crisis and the economic effects of ill health devastating. The evidence, however, is quite the reverse. Australians currently enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in human history. Adult male mortality rates have fallen from 207 per 1000 male adults in 1970 to 81 in 2009; female mortality rates have fallen from 117 to 47 in the same period. These trends continue to improve. There has been a spectacular decline in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Australia from the levels seen in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 2011-2013 Australian health survey, over half of the population rated their health as very good or excellent; there had been no change from 5 years previously, despite the ageing of the population. Even in the age group of 85 years and over, 60% rate their health as good to excellent.