Health focus

By Laura Briggs

Health promotion strategies are at the forefront for Shepparton.

More than 50 community members from various professions gathered at Shepparton’s Goulburn Valley Hotel on Wednesday with the aim of creating strategies to improve the health of children.

The workshop hosted by Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership with Deakin University and the Global Obesity Centre created an environment for community members to suggest and explore innovative ways to bring about change to health-related statistics for children in the area.

Deakin University Professor Steve Allender, who attended the workshop as a guest speaker, said he was passionate about seeing the health of Shepparton children improved.

‘‘We know right across Victoria and Australia we could improve the health of our kids, particularly by kids being more active and having a healthier diet,’’ he said.

‘‘What we’re doing is trying new and innovative ways to get the whole of the community to have a co-ordinated response to improving that.’’

Prof Allender said bringing together members of so many different organisations throughout Shepparton was a great start.

‘‘The basic question ... is how do we all work together to make the healthier choice the easier choice in Shepparton?’’

Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership chief executive Craig Chadwick said statistics showed the healthier choice was not the easier choice at this point in time.

‘‘Statistics are telling us that things aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse; so the strategies and the approaches that we’re using aren’t working and we need to do things differently to bring that change,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about building the capacity and understanding what’s happening locally, not just the generic national data ... and what we can do as a community to affect change and improve the health and well-being of not only our children but our future generations. Because our kids of today are our parents of tomorrow, our industry of tomorrow and so on.’’

Mr Chadwick said the community had shown a great deal of support and commitment going forward and the workshop meant Shepparton was one step closer to seeing change.