Healthy Heart of Victoria

More people, more active, more often

Healthy Heart of Victoria aims to improve health outcomes for the community living in Central Victoria.

The initiative is a joint initiative of the Loddon-Campaspe Regional Partnership and involves the shires of Macedon Ranges, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Mount Alexander, Central Goldfields and Campaspe.

It will fund updates to existing spaces, facilities and programs that help more Macedon Ranges residents to be active, healthy and well.

There is a clear need to find local and regional solutions that increase healthy eating and physical activity. According to the 2014 Victorian Population Health Survey, in the Macedon Ranges:

  • 10% of adults meet vegetable consumption guidelines
  • 37% of adults meet fruit consumption guidelines
  • 40% of adults meet physical activity guidelines.

To address these challenges, over 130 stakeholders from local government, health services, primary care partnerships, universities, the regional partnership, and state government departments and agencies took part in design workshops in August and September 2016. This led to the development of the Healthy Heart of Victoria implementation framework(PDF, 11MB).

It involves three main components.

  1. The Active Living Census
  2. Infrastructure, facilities or programs that get more people, more active, more often
  3. The Health Broker workforce

Overall, the initiative reflects the principle that health is the business of everyone, not just health services and health professionals.

The Healthy Heart of Victoria initiative is supported by the Victorian Government. The project has been funded until June 2021.

The Active Living Census provides valuable new information about the health and wellbeing of community members in the Macedon Ranges. The newly released report will help us to target our programs and infrastructure to support people of all ages and abilities to be more active, healthy and happy.

The 2019 ALC was based on a similar census conducted by the City of Greater Bendigo in 2014. The paper survey was distributed to all households by post, however residents were encouraged to complete the survey online if possible. The survey was open from 16 May to 23 June 2019. 

The Census was available online and in hard copy to people across the region.  It was completed by over 24,500 people throughout region, including by 3,691 people in Macedon Ranges Shire. 

The findings provide evidence at a local level, and enable reliable comparisons with other data, as well as across townships and demographic groups such as age and gender.

Further, the findings provide valuable information on what would help people meet national guidelines for healthy eating and active living, and help support efforts to reduce rates of obesity, chronic disease and high-risk health behaviours by encouraging more people to be more active, more often.

What are the main findings?

Key findings on active living and recreation in Macedon Ranges Shire:

  • Walking was the most popular form of recreational activity (21 per cent), followed by swimming (9 per cent), bushwalking/hiking (7 per cent), indoor fitness (7 per cent) and active play (6 per cent).

  • Most residents use our public facilities and spaces. Two thirds of people (66 per cent) used footpaths weekly or more often, compared to 61 per cent for public open spaces and 32 per cent for walking and bike trails.

  • Over half (53 per cent) of all residents want to be more active. The most common explanations of why people were not as active as they would like were being too busy (56 per cent), personal reasons such as not feeling motivated or feeling embarrassed (26 per cent) and cost (22 per cent).

Other health and wellbeing indicators for Macedon Ranges Shire:

  • Almost two thirds of residents (61 per cent) are overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity is higher among males (67 per cent) than females (55 per cent).

  • About one in every six people (16 per cent) rate their health as fair or poor. Similarly, about one in every six people (17 per cent) do not feel valued by society. These are important indicators of wellbeing.

  • Only 14 per cent of adults meet guidelines for vegetable consumption, 51 per cent meet guidelines for fruit consumption, and 62 per cent met guidelines for physical activity.

  • One in 15 households (6.4 per cent) are considered to be food insecure, as they have run out of food in the last year and could not afford to buy more. Food insecurity in our shire is highest in Romsey (13 per cent).

  • Almost three in every five people (58 per cent) had consumed more than four alcoholic drinks in one sitting in the past year, placing them at risk of alcohol-related injury.

Key findings and comparisons for the Loddon Campaspe region:

  • Walking is the most popular type of physical activity, followed by swimming, indoor fitness, active play and cycling.

  • Two in every three adults (63 per cent) in the Loddon Campaspe Region are overweight or obese. This is higher than the Victorian average of 50 per cent.

  • One in every eight adults (13 per cent) meet the daily vegetable consumption guidelines. This is higher than the Victorian average of 5 per cent.

  • Almost one in ten households (9 per cent) in the Loddon Campaspe Region are food insecure – they do not have enough to eat. This is higher than the Victorian average of 6 per cent.

  • People in the Loddon Campaspe region want to be more active more often, with 53 per cent wanting to do more activity.

  • Food insecurity and household self-rated prosperity appear to be key predictors for a cluster of health behaviours and outcomes, with food insecure and low income households reporting lower levels of health and wellbeing overall, higher rates of overweight and obesity, higher rates of health-risk behaviours (i.e. smoking, alcohol, sugary drinks) and lower rates of health-protecting behaviours (i.e. physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption).

Where can I find the report?

We encourage all residents, organisations and interested community groups to download the reports. They are available for anyone to access and can be used in a variety of ways such as to support grant applications and funding submissions, or to gain a greater understanding of local health and wellbeing behaviours.

This video will help you to use and interpret the findings:

You can also access recordings of online seminars on four key topics related to the census in Macedon Ranges Shire Council:

Active Living Census reports for Loddon Campaspe region can be downloaded from Regional Development Victoria

<div="" _rdeditor_temp="1">This part of the Healthy Heart of Victoria program aims to address the environments and systems that influence health and wellbeing. This work will also improve the liveability of our neighbourhoods.

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</div="">The Health Broker team will also strengthen relationships between local councils and community groups, sporting clubs, and health agencies.

Residents are encouraged to get physically active across the Loddon Campaspe region while having some fun at the same time by taking part in Adventure Bingo - a new initiative from the Healthy Heart of Victoria.

The Macedon Ranges' walk begins at the Kyneton Library on Mollison St and continues in a circuit back to the library, via the Campaspe River Walk. Download the Kyneton Bingo Map(PDF, 285KB).

Through the initiative participants spot points of interest listed in the booklet during their walk and once they’ve spotted three items in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal line, they’ve got Bingo.

Other Adventure Bingo walks are located in Rochester, Maryborough, Bendigo, Wedderburn and Castlemaine. Download the complete Adventure Bingo booklet(PDF, 1MB) which contains maps for all locations.

Through the Healthy Heart of Victoria initiative, Council was awarded $240,000 to deliver programs and facilities that support people of all ages and abilities to use existing outdoor exercise equipment and open spaces—it was called the Free Inclusive Training Project (FIT).

The 2019 Healthy Heart of Victoria Active Living Census found that 1 in 2 Macedon Ranges Shire residents (52.7 per cent) say they do not exercise as often as they would like. Importantly, 81 per cent of those with poor mental health, 79 per cent of those with poor health, 71 per cent of LGBTQIA people, and 49 per cent of people who require assistance with daily activities would like to be more active.

Although a lack of time is the most common reason for not being more active among adults, this is not true for all community members. Compared to community members with better health and wellbeing, people with poor mental or physical health were significantly more likely to say that their poor health, disability, the high cost or a lack of social support were important reasons for not being more active. Providing access to free equipment, exercise guidance and peer support will help to overcome these barriers.

The FIT project included funding to:

  • make small changes to the outdoor exercise stations (and adjacent public open space) in Gisborne, Romsey and Woodend that make these facilities more inclusive and accessible and more active
  • provide free, inclusive programs that increase the confidence and skills to use the exercise stations, including through peer support and professional facilitation
  • develop signage, resources and promotional material to raise awareness about the outdoor exercise equipment and supportive programs.

The FIT project aimed to increase use of outdoor exercise stations and public open space in Kyneton, Gisborne, Romsey and Woodend through:

  • building awareness about the equipment
  • building skills and confidence to use the equipment
  • building social connections through supported group exercise
  • providing supportive amenities that address known barriers to physical activity and improve the user-experience.

Works

  • Audited and upgraded the outdoor exercise stations in Gisborne, Romsey, Woodend and Kyneton (Kyneton site was upgraded as part of the WalKyneton project).
  • In Gisborne, the project delivered connecting paths, accessible seating, timed solar lighting, a water station and bike rack.
  • In Woodend, the project delivered an accessible carpark and connecting paths, accessible seating, a water station and bike rack.
  • In Romsey, the project delivered connecting paths, accessible seating, a water station, bike rack, and way-finding signage.

Free inclusive training classes

Council held free inclusive training programs at the four outdoor exercise stations located in Gisborne, Romsey, Woodend and Kyneton during March 2021.

The free classes catered for all levels and abilities and included sessions for young females, seniors, and people wanting to improve mental health by increasing physical fitness. This video describes the experiences of four participants.

The WalKyneton project will improve the Campaspe River Walk in Kyneton.

This project has been made possible thanks to $300,000 in funding from the Healthy Heart of Victoria initiative to improve pathways and facilities that encourage physical activity along the river walk.

WalKyneton has used the 2019 Active Living Census to identify community members who are less likely to meet physical activity guidelines and those who rarely use public footpaths, such as adolescent females, older adults, people with poor physical or mental health, people with a disability, and people who identify as LGBTQIA+. We are now working closely with identified community representatives to understand how we can design more safe, inclusive, accessible and active spaces. 

The project includes funding to:

  • link the existing shared path along the Campaspe River to the Kyneton Community Park within the botanic gardens
  • construct paths to connect the river walk with new exercise equipment and other places of interest
  • design and deliver amenities, programs and resources to attract people to use the upgraded path and equipment.

Construction of the path extension

The extension of the Campaspe River Walk into the Kyneton Community Park will no longer be delivered as part of the WalKyneton Project, however Council is continuing to secure the necessary permits and plans to complete the path extension in future. 

Place-making to make outdoor exercise more accessible, inclusive and safe

The project focusses on place-making to make the outdoor exercise equipment more accessible, inclusive and safe for people of all ages and abilities.

We have completed facility upgrades to St Agnes Place in Kyneton so that the outdoor fitness station and surrounding area can be used by people of all ages and abilities. These changes include a water station, paths to connect exercise equipment to footpath, accessible seating and solar lighting. 

Co-design project

The WalKyneton co-design project has commenced with the first meeting of the group held on 14 February 2020 at the Kyneton Community House.

The small co-design working group will:

  • Plan and deliver an amenity improvement project that will enhance the existing Campaspe River Walk precinct (including the soon to be opened fitness area).
  • Plan and deliver one event or activity that will encourage local people and specific groups in the community to increase their knowledge and usage of the Campaspe River Walk.
  • Provide feedback to Council that will map possible future amenities and their locations along the river walk. These future amenities have already been identified by community members as good ideas that aim to improve the river walk.
  • Participate in an evaluation of the co-design process, including what worked, what didn't, and how we can improve future co-design processes in future.

Members of the working group represent different local community groups and a broad range of perspectives, helping Council understand how to get more people, more active, more often.

Progress update: February to April 2020

We held three workshops with the working group in February and March.

  • The first workshop concentrated on laying the groundwork for the project and the Working Group and included agreeing on how we will work together, hearing about the background research underpinning the project and identifying what success will look like.
  • The second workshop involved a walk along the Campaspe River followed by a brainstorming discussion of ideas and opportunities.
  • In the third workshop people shared examples of walking paths / trails and agreement was reached about the areas of focus / priorities for the proposed River Walk infrastructure.

Following the third working group, we:

  • agreed to focus on the 1km section of the river walk between the fitness equipment and Quarry Reserve.
  • agreed on the following priorities:
    • signage (directional, distance, locational signage)
    • signage (interpretive, tactile / sensory and virtual)
    • seating / table furniture
    • landscaping (aesthetic, shade, indigenous, interactive, sensory)
    • the creation of spaces to support different activities e.g. yoga and meditation.
  • Measured distances and mapped the key infrastructure and connection points along the river walk between the fitness equipment and Quarry Reserve.
  • Sourced preferred styles of street furniture and signage.

Progress update: May to July 2020

Plans were initially put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. We contacted co-design members in July to find out the best way to proceed. A slightly smaller group will continue to progress the plans online and by phone. 

Progress update: August to September 2020

The co-design group is now working towards two specific areas of focus:

  1. The 1km stretch from Quarry Reserve to the exercise equipment, providing a template in best practice for signage, seating, landscaping that could be applied to the remainder of the river walk and other trails within the shire.  
  2. Interactive signage and storytelling to ‘activate’ the trail walk. This will have a focus on cultural heritage.

We have gathered valuable feedback from local organisations about inclusion and access for people with a disability or chronic health condition.

Progress update: October to November 2020

A landscape architecture firm (Andrea Proctor Landscapes) has been appointed and has met with the co-design group.

Andrea Proctor Landscapes will design and map features of the interactive and accessible trail walk, such as accessible seating, shade, plantings and other features. The plan will create spaces for activity, social interaction and meditation. It will also consider sensory and interactive features.

Tasks from here include:

  • Continue to engage Traditional Owners
  • Finalise the plan for landscaping
  • Evaluate and document the co-design process and learnings
  • Implement stage 1 of the landscape design
  • Install signage
  • Launch and publicise the new space

Working with partners agencies and communities across the Loddon-Campaspe region, Healthy Heart of Victoria has demonstrated it is well placed to respond to emerging local health and wellbeing needs and deliver on improvements to make local places safer, more accessible and more active. This has been particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This video highlights some key achievements for the Healthy Heart of Victoria Initiative across the Loddon-Campaspe region.    

Case studies