Strategic plan to target health of region’s youth

ARARAT - The Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership has launched its Strategic Plan for 2013-17.

The event was hosted by chair of the GPPCP, Rohan Fitzgerald, CEO of Stawell Regional Health, with 30 people attending representing 15 of the PCP's member agencies

Executive officer, Marianne Hendron explained the vision of the new strategy, which is 'An Empowered and Healthy Community'

Ms Hendron said key areas of focus in the plan are diabetes, healthy eating and oral health, mental health and sexual and reproductive health, with a target group being children and young people.

"The PCP will work with our partner agencies to address these areas from a prevention and early intervention angle," Ms Hendron said.

"An example of this is our work with kindergartens and Smiles for Miles program to educate children on oral health."

Health promotion coordinator Meagan Ward highlighted a major piece of work for the year - Food for All - which commences with a forum to address issues within the Grampians Pyrenees region relating to the availability, accessibility and utilisation of healthy food.

"Findings of our work to date indicate that particular groups are more vulnerable such as those people living in isolation, those without transport, older people, young people, single parents, people with a disability and low income earners," Ms Hendron said.

"The forum is the next step in addressing food related issues for these people and the broader community and will consider very practical strategies such as Food Hubs, community gardens and other ideas to suit our region."

The PCP also launched a Climate Change Guide, written by research officer Emily Anderson,which aims to provide the PCP's partners with information on the likely climate change impacts on health within our region and resource them to better plan for these impacts and ensure the long term resilience of the communities it serves.

"The guide was very well received by agencies and Emily will continue to engage with agencies on request to support them to develop and implement policies," Ms Hendron said.

During the launch event the participants were energised by the engaging presence of singing facilitator Fay White who led the group in a fabulous choir experience.

"Fay highlighted the mental health benefits of group singing and the evidence that suggests that group singing is a powerful personal and social health promotion activity," Ms Hendron said.

Ms Hendron said a recent VicHealth Report concluded the following benefits of singing in groups:

Increased self-confidence, empowerment, wellbeing and interpersonal skills.

A general lifting of the spirits and a sense of joy and accomplishment.

Lowered feelings of social isolation, depression and anxiety.

Increased social capital through participation in social, cultural and community activities.

Denser social and friendship networks.

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