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Agencies come together to put health promotion firmly on the agenda

REPRESENTATIVES from agencies across Bundaberg came together earlier this week to discuss the health challenges the region faces and to start work on addressing them through pro-active, whole-of-community health promotion.

The Health Promotion Evening, hosted on Tuesday by Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, was just the first of a series of discussions and workshops set to be held on the topic, with another in Hervey Bay due to take place in the new year.

The evening featured speakers such as Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young and Wide Bay Public Health Physician Dr Margaret Young, who provided some context for Wide Bay’s health challenges – including high rates of obesity, smoking, chronic illness and the growing proportion of the population aged over 65.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson said the health promotion sessions were all about trying to find new ways to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the community, from newborns through to the frail and elderly.

“As a health service, we’re doing everything we can to build our capacity and make sure our diverse services meet the current and future needs of our growing and ageing population,” Ms Jamieson said.

“But continuing to build hospital capacity can’t be the only answer, and we’re not suggesting that we have all the answers.

“That’s why we wanted to bring together people from across the community so we could listen to the issues they face, and start looking at solutions we can all contribute to.

“In part due to the socio-economic circumstances of our region, we face inter-generational health challenges and we can’t keep doing things the same way – we need to start trying new things and finding new solutions.

“We won’t find all the solutions at once, but we have to start somewhere.”

Other presenters on the evening included Bundaberg Regional Council’s Geordie Lascelles, CQUniversity Professor of Health Promotion Jenni Judd and local PHN General Manager Kath Thompson, with attendees including representatives from the public health, private health, local government, education and community sectors.

WBHHS Acting Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said the presentations and discussions afterward were wide-ranging, and showed the level of engagement and determination to improve the community’s health – and in particular to give children the best possible start in life.

“Bringing all those people together was important, because it reinforced how we all have a role to play in people’s health and wellbeing, which includes physical and mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing,” Ms Carroll said.

“Among the concepts discussed on the night was the idea of a ‘Health in All’ approach, which means embedding health considerations in every aspect of our lives, and not just in the traditional places we might look for it.

“That means taking health into consideration when doing things such as building roads or designing residential housing developments.”

Ms Jamieson said after the Hervey Bay meeting had been held, it was intended that future workshops would be held to identify gaps and opportunities, and then a smaller working group would be formed with some specific and measurable actions to target.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a whole-of-community effort to improve everyone’s health and wellbeing across the entire lifespan, and we want to make sure we’re helping to drive that effort,” she said.

Last updated: 5 December 2019