Minister in Australia to check out healthy living programme

  • Tony Ryall

Health Minister Tony Ryall is travelling to Melbourne today to learn more about the Healthy Together Victoria programme which supports Victorians to live healthier lives.

The locally-led programme is concentrated in 12 areas across Victoria. It focuses on encouraging healthy eating and physical activity, and reducing smoking and harmful alcohol use in workplaces, sport clubs, schools and communities. A skilled local health promotion workforce based within local councils lead the effort.

Mr Ryall will meet with Victorian Health Minister David Davis who launched Healthy Together Victoria last year. The two Health Ministers will also visit Wyndham and Hume to see the programme in action.

“Thousands of schools and businesses across the state have signed up for their local programme and are improving the health and wellbeing of Victorians where they live, learn, work and play,” says Mr Ryall.

“For example only five per cent of Wyndham residents eat the recommended number of services of vegetables each day – even though Wyndham farmers grow around 70 per cent of Victoria’s leafy green vegetables. The local farmers are working with the community to come up with ways to make it easier to sell local produce and increase vegetable consumption.

“What’s attractive about this programme is that it’s not about creating a nanny state – where the government tells parents what they can put in their children’s school lunch box or introduces fat taxes.

“There is a lot of debate about what works best to reduce obesity – and resources are often too thinly spread. But there’s strong evidence that the whole of community approach happening in Victoria is making a difference.

“In Colac, for example, the community has focused on reducing childhood obesity. Colac primary school children are now eating more healthily, watching less television and participating in more activities after school. As a result children aged between four and 12 now have lower weight and smaller waists compared with children in nearby towns,” says Mr Ryall.