Coffee With…Bronwyn Upston: Whitehorse City Council

Describe your work as Community Development Officer, Health & Wellbeing, at Whitehorse City Council?
As my title suggests, my role is to promote the health and wellbeing of the community in the City of Whitehorse. Our community development team work to enhance the social connectedness, strengths and resilience of the people who live, work, study or recreate in the municipality. The social model of health underpins our work. A key component of my role is to coordinate Council’s Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan. My main portfolio areas are currently the prevention of violence against women (PVAW), reducing harm from alcohol and community safety.

You have a successful history of working in the prevention of violence against women in the Inner East region. Why the move to Whitehorse Council?
I’ll bring that expertise and networks to my role at Council. With my health promotion background, I have worked in many diverse areas and this role offers considerable scope to draw on my previous experiences more broadly than PVAW, as well as to enjoy the stimulation and challenge of new areas of work.

I am thrilled to be working at Whitehorse City Council. While I have previously worked in partnership with local government, this is my first experience working within one, and there is a lot to learn.

What’s coming up for the Whitehorse Health and Wellbeing Plan 2017-2021?
The Whitehorse Health and Wellbeing Plan identified the theme of connectedness as vitally important to the health and wellbeing of the people of Whitehorse. In addition, the other key developmental areas arising from the plan are:

• Family violence response and violence against women prevention
• Reducing harms from alcohol
• Mental wellbeing
• Dementia friendly communities
• Healthy eating

An important aspect of the plan is the recognition of Council’s role in working with partner agencies to address complex social issues that are so influential on people’s health and wellbeing.

What excites and motivates you in your role?
Working with others to achieve real change.

What strengths do you see in the Whitehorse community?
Its diversity is a strength. Whitehorse has always welcomed people from all around the world. Another strength is the number of people who’ve lived in the municipality for a long time and who really care about the environment and the neighbourhood character. We have strong community connections, supported by Council and many other organisations. People care about others. We have many volunteers and people who get involved in their local neighbourhood.

What kind of a cuppa do you brew when you sit down at your desk in the morning?
It’s a lemon and ginger tea. I’m an early riser so I’ve already had my brewed coffee!

If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?
The distribution of wealth. More women in power. Ooops, is that two things?!

If you weren’t working at Whitehorse City Council right now, what would you be doing?
Is this a trick question? I’d be busy looking for work!

If I had the resources, I’d like to open and run a long-term drug and alcohol recovery program with my husband that was accessible to all; one that included stable housing and ongoing social support for participants for years not months. People would be much more likely to recover.

Otherwise, I’d be climbing a mountain.

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

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