From the Executive Officer’s Desk: February 2020

It seems like only yesterday that IEPCP celebrated Christmas lunch at the fabulous Charcoal Lane in Fitzroy (a social enterprise of Mission Australia) enjoying indigenous flavours and sumptuous servings – fast forward through seemingly endless fires around the nation, which touched many of us – and here we are in February already, with our calendars filling fast. A forthcoming date to note: February 13 marks the 12th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations by the Australian Government. It is a time to reflect on the strength and the survival of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by forcible removal. National Apology Day encourages the remembrance of, and apology to, Stolen Generations and those whose lives have been affected by poor government policy and acts of assimilation.

Since my last report, a couple of standout December highlights were the IEPCP & OEPCP’s Obesity Prevention Summit, held at Deakin University Burwood, with our high profile speakers and community leaders putting a focus on the obesogenic environment and preventative action needed. The audience heard from Dr Bruce Bolam Victoria’s Chief Preventative Health Officer at DHHS; Jane Martin, Director of the Obesity Policy Coalition; Jane Potter, Vichealth’s Principal Progam Officer (Healthy Eating); and Assoc Professor Gary Sacks from Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre. Dr Bolam discussed the role of governments, preventative approaches, successes and lessons learnt; Jane Martin discussed the key policy issues, barriers, and presented the OPC’s advocacy for priority solutions; Jane Potter presented on Vichealth’s focus on tackling childhood obesity, and the importance of seizing the opportunity in the first 1000 days, sharing the alarming statistic of 27.9% of children 2-4 years of age in Victoria are now overweight. Assoc. Professor Gary Sacks discussed the future of prevention in Obesity, in light of current politics, and gave examples of effective preventative action happening around the globe, and the move within parts of the food industry toward producing healthier products. A takeaway was that momentum has grown, and public health interventions are starting to make progress. Whilst the upward trajectory may continue for a bit, there is reason for optimism in the longer term. The audience also heard from local community leaders on the importance of leadership in prevention, and a taste of work happening to make change. The IEPCP and OEPCP are keen to continue to support conversations about local opportunities into 2020.

Elsewhere in the region, December highlights included a wonderful opportunity for the IEPCP to join Alex Mills and the Link Health & Community team to celebrate with the Opening Doors program graduates as they head out into the region to roll out social inclusion initiatives.






                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             L-R: Opening Doors Graduate Manal Tahir, Kate Jeffery (IEPCP),
Mhisti Rele & Dilnaz Billimoria

We also commend our partners at Women’s Health East for their innovation and successful work in Gender Equity, culminating in a launch of three project papers showcased in our Must Reads in the February E-Bulletin. Also in our Must Reads this month is a link to the Eastern Community Legal Centre Opera project website. OPERA -Older People, Equity, Respect an Ageing is a partnership between Eastern Community Legal Centre and Swinburne University, and is proudly supported by the IEPCP.









From left: Kate Jeffery (IEPCP), Keynote speakers, Darcy Vescio & Dilnaz Billimoria

In December we temporarily farewelled our Prevention Coordinator Steph Ashby as she headed off to take up a six month position with Vichealth as Senior Project Officer, Health Promotion Operations. We thank her for her great support to partners in the portfolios of Healthy Eating, Social Inclusion, Alcohol harm minimization, Health Planning, and Systems Thinking. We are delighted to have arranged a secondment for Bonnie Coogan from Access Health and Community to cover the role until end of June. Bonnie is known to many in the area, and has great local knowledge and prevention experience. For a bit more about Bonnie, please check out our “Coffee With” segment, and give her a call to say Hi!

Meanwhile at a PCP sector level, we are still awaiting the outcome of the Statewide review of the program, commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services. The advice we have is that we will be notified of decisions about the future of the PCP Program early in 2020, pending consideration of the Review findings, and no decisions about the future of the PCP Program funding beyond 30 June 2020 have been made. PCPs are therefore sill advocating strongly, and appreciate ongoing support from partners. The uncertain environment makes it extremely difficult to forward plan, and by necessity PCPs are working toward short term goals achievable within the financial year.

Notwithstanding these constraints, we are again asking partners to contribute to an annual evaluation of us as both an organisation and the value we bring to organisations in our work, and also the value of the partnerships we support. Please take a few moments to complete the evaluation, with a view to helping us better understand and respond to partner needs in a changing environment.

We have completed a summary of our IEPCP highlights of 2019 and invite you to have a browse through it to appreciate the variety of partnership work going on in the catchment and region, that the IEPCP is proud to initiate, lead or support and we thank all of our partners for their valuable contribution in working with us to improve health and wellbeing in the region.

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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