Tuesday, 28 April 2015 14:04

Focus on: Auburn Healthy Communities Initiative

Auburn Healthy Communities Initiative: Young women participating in cycling class Auburn Healthy Communities Initiative: Young women participating in cycling class Source: Auburn City Council

The Auburn local government area faces a number of unique health challenges, such as accessibility and issues linked to gender, culture, migration (including pre-arrival and settlement experiences), education, employment and income.

Ranked as the second most disadvantaged LGA in Sydney , and with health risk factors well above NSW averages, Auburn City sees high levels of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, circulatory system diseases, hypertensive diseases, physical inactivity and obesity within its community.

Prompted by this poor health record, the Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) was launched in 2012 thanks to funding from the Federal Government’s Department of Health and Ageing.

The aim of the initiative was to educate residents on the negative effect of poor lifestyle choices and obesity on overall health through a number of regular, affordable community-based physical activity and healthy eating programs.

Examples included free or low-cost dance classes, resistance training, gardening groups, walking groups, healthy eating classes, as well as community wellbeing programs such as ParkREACH.

ParkREACH uses local parks to deliver community and health services in disadvantaged areas. Programs include, pre-school story time in the park, health and fitness programs for adults, and information on council’s health and community services.

These programs had a fantastic response, with participants reporting improvements in their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels; increased strength and mobility; improved flexibility, balance, co-ordination and confidence; weight and chronic disease management and improved psychosocial health.

One participant said “I feel very healthy, I lose four kilos. You can’t believe it how it’s changed my life. Now I feel like my home in Bosnia. When I go out in Auburn all the time I [see] some people I know…we sit down and get some cappuccinos. Now I feel like I born here because of gardening and exercise and walking group.”

The success of the Healthy Communities Initiative resulted in an ongoing commitment from Auburn City Council, and also attracted subsequent funding from the local Dooley’s Lidcombe Catholic Club (following the conclusion of the federal funding period in June 2014).

Auburn City Council has now integrated the promotion of health and wellbeing into key council plans and policies, resulting in a number of infrastructure upgrades to support the development of a healthy and active community, as well as innovative new programs to activate tired community spaces.

Through the Auburn Healthy Communities Initiative, council has sought to take a holistic, empowering and inclusive approach to improving the health and wellbeing of its community working alongside a range of community partners to maximize participation and project outcomes.

The Initiative has involved a council and community wide commitment to the improvement of health, which has now been integrated into the core business and service delivery of council.

Visit Auburn City Council’s YouTube channel for more information on the Auburn Healthy Communities Initiative.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 15:31