Healthy Eating & Active Living
Healthy Eating and Active Living is a key priority for partners in Mount Alexander Shire. With the addition of new and diverse exercise groups and the impact of Healthy Heart of Victoria there’s been a real shift in engagement both from the community and from sectors not usually prioritising health and wellbeing. This is particularly so within council as the Healthy Heart of Victoria project control group has continued to engage across council departments, also exposing these departments to external health and wellbeing partners.
COVID–19 has also had an impact on how people access physical activity and healthy food. Exercise groups have had to change their approach, partners have been promoting home exercise programs and most significantly a community pantry was set up to meet the needs of vulnerable residents as lockdown and job losses began to be felt.
CHIRP Community Health Exercise Groups – CHIRP Community Health provide low cost and sustainable physical activity opportunities across Mount Alexander Shire which are targeted at elderly, people with chronic disease and socially isolated people.
Healthy Heart of Victoria – Wellbeing Committee working towards the Achievement Program and the pillars of Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Mental Health. Also the Health Action Team at Castlemaine Secondary College target active transport.
- Mount Alexander Community Pantry video and case study – Supporting Mount Alexander residents during COVID-19 with a local food relief partnership.
In 2019/20 the work in Mount Alexander continued to have a significant focus in the youth space. The First Nations Youth leadership project was a success and continues into this year, however the youth wellbeing program which relied on school engagement and the ability to train a large number of students has been put on hold due to COVID-19.
Instead the Mount Alexander Youth Network has been convening during COVID-19 to look at ways of supporting young people and the school to manage mental wellbeing as this has been a big concern during isolation. Mount Alexander Shire Council has shifted its youth programs online, Castlemaine Secondary College (CSC) has created a wellbeing portal on its webpage for staff, students and parents and discussions have been had about the potential for mentoring and tutoring needs once schools resume face to face learning.
In response to COVID-19 a number of new networks were quickly brought together by Central Vic PCP, to allow service providers to respond to community needs in a timely manner. A COVID-19 wellbeing network developed information packs for vulnerable residents and neighbourhood resilience groups and other community responses were supported.
A COVID-19 communications network was also formed. Members discussed concerns and queries they were hearing from clients and community and the group was able to prioritise needs and develop collaborative responses. Initially a radio show was developed by one member so that any messages we were delivering to the community were as accessible and across as many mediums as possible. This group continues to meet weekly and looks like it may become an ongoing fixture.
Partners are keen to evaluate the collaborative response to COVID-19 and some discussion have begun on how to capture information that will allow us to be more prepared in the future.
First Nation’s Youth Leadership – Nalderun build the resilience and leadership capacity of young Aboriginal students and older youth mentors across the CVPCP catchment
CFNC Wellbeing – A Project building the capacity of Castlemaine Football & Netball Club members to support each other’s mental wellbeing.
The Healthy Mount Alexander Partnership developed various initiatives in response to COVID-19 and its impact on Mental Health and Wellbeing:
- Resource Packs – made available in print format for community members
- Op Shops re-opening after COVID-19 lockdown – Supporting op shops to safely reopen and service the vulnerable in our community.
Prevention of Violence Against Women
The Mount Alexander Shire Family Violence Prevention Network continues to act as a broad collaborative platform to provide advocacy, strategic support and place-based responses to the Loddon Mallee Action Plan. A big focus of the network over the last year was using the 16 days of activism and international women’s day as platforms to engage community members and organisations in the conversation in different ways.
Respect Ambassadors Program -Respect Ambassadors are volunteers who are supported to promote respect for women in Mount Alexander Shire.
16 Days of Activism – The Mount Alexander Family Violence Prevention Network uses the International 16 Days of Activism campaign to raise awareness in our local community of gender inequity, services available to community members experiencing family violence and the importance ofspeaking out against sexist attitudes and behaviours.
Prevention of Violence Against Women Strategy -Women’s Health Loddon Mallee is continuing to build regional capacity for aligned and strengthened action towards Gender Equality and the Primary prevention of violence against women.