Thursday, 29 October 2015 09:56

Western Sydney councils commit to walk the walk

Nine councils sign Walk 21 Charter (left to right): Peter McCue (Premier's Council for Active Living), Ian Denker (Auburn City Council), Mayor Stephen Bali (Blacktown City Council), Mayor Ned Mannoun (Liverpool City Council), Mayor Karen McKeown (Penrith City Council), Cllr Steven Issa (Parramatta City Council), Cllr Dai Le (Fairfield City Council), Henning Bracker (Bankstown City Council), Cllr Tony Hadchiti (WSROC President) Nine councils sign Walk 21 Charter (left to right): Peter McCue (Premier's Council for Active Living), Ian Denker (Auburn City Council), Mayor Stephen Bali (Blacktown City Council), Mayor Ned Mannoun (Liverpool City Council), Mayor Karen McKeown (Penrith City Council), Cllr Steven Issa (Parramatta City Council), Cllr Dai Le (Fairfield City Council), Henning Bracker (Bankstown City Council), Cllr Tony Hadchiti (WSROC President)

Media release, October 29, 2015

Our future cities will be designed to make you healthier if nine Western Sydney councils have their way.

Key experts in the fields of health, planning, transport and community development gathered in Blacktown for the Planning an Active Western Sydney forum yesterday to discuss how urban planning can improve liveability, and by extension, better health outcomes for the region.

Over 90 participants attended the forum, which was a partnership between the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), the Premier’s Council for Active Living (PCAL) and three Local Health Districts in the Western Sydney region.

WSROC President Cllr Tony Hadchiti said “Western Sydney is a major hotspot for preventable lifestyle diseases, one that is costing NSW over one billion tax-payer dollars every year.”

“Compared to their inner-city counterparts Western Sydney residents are two to three times more likely to have conditions such as diabetes. In WSROC's view this is unacceptable,” he said.

“Local councils are not health care professionals but we can look to design our cities in a way that makes it as easy as possible for residents to lead more active lifestyles,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Good urban planning that prioritises quality footpaths, attractive greenspaces, and safe, pedestrian-friendly environments are ways in which councils can encourage communities to walk more,” he said.

“I am proud to say that nine WSROC councils have committed to making Western Sydney a more walkable, liveable place by signing the Walk21 International Charter for Walking this week – a pledge to prioritise projects that support active lifestyles,” he said.

Forum partner and South Western Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive, Amanda Larkin said “The District has been working with local councils to develop an integrated approach to addressing the health of local residents.”

“We know that only 51 per cent of people living in south western Sydney have adequate physical activity,” said Ms Larkin.

“Walking is an ideal way to enjoy being active and people of all ages and most abilities can participate.”

“Walking has significant physical and mental health benefits. Evidence shows that walking on a regular basis can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, help maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes,” she said.

Kay Hyman, Chief Executive, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD), said chronic disease is a major burden for the health system and NBMLHD has one of the highest rates of obesity in the state at more than 58 per cent, almost one in ten people living with diabetes, and only five in ten people over sixteen who get their recommended level of daily exercise.

“The Planning an Active Western Sydney forum is an occasion for local councils and health districts to work together to find local solutions to the burden of chronic disease,” said Ms Hyman.

Western Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive, Danny O’Connor, said our cities will be inadequate if we do not look at prevention. “In Western Sydney we have 100,000 people with diabetes and 300,000 at risk of diabetes. Walking is a simple way to slow and even prevent the disease,” he said.

“Congratulations to the councils who signed the international charter, we look forward to partnering with you to develop healthy cities.” 

PCAL Chief Executive, Peter McCue, said relatively minor planning changes can result in significant benefits for community health as well as our collective hip pockets.

“Each weekday in the Sydney metropolitan area, there are over half a million single-occupancy car trips of less than a kilometre. These are trips to the corner shop, to drop the kids off to school or catch up with a friend. And they are car trips that could be reasonably converted to walking trips,” said Mr McCue.

“PCAL recently commissioned research to determine the financial benefits of shifting just one per cent of these car trips to walking and found savings of over $130 million over five years.”

“The way we design and develop our built environment can significantly influence the travel choices and the amount of physical activity that people undertake on a day to day basis.”

“Higher levels of walking for transport are found in ‘walkable’ neighbourhoods – that is those with sufficient density, mixed-use zoning, connected street networks and access to public transport, as well as a balance of jobs to housing.”

“Recreational walking is encouraged through the presence, proximity and quality of green space and the aesthetics of streets. The nicer the place, the more likely we are to enjoy walking around it.”

“It is fantastic to see local councils commit to improving walkability, and we hope the forum will provide councils with the tools they need to build the active communities of the future,” he said.

Councils who have committed to signing the Walk21 Charter include: Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Fairfield, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith.


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MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly-Anne Gee, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 02 9671 4333 or 0425 871 868.

Last modified on Friday, 30 October 2015 16:23

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