We commenced the month of February with a warm welcome to Bonnie Coogan, our Primary Prevention Coordinator, who is filling Steph Ashby’s shoes across the portfolios of Social Inclusion, Systems Thinking, Healthy Eating/Obesity Prevention, and Alcohol Harm Minimisation until the end of June. We send a big shout out to our valued partner Access Health & Community for releasing Bonnie to come over to us, to support regional partnership work.
In a key piece of capacity-building work, we were delighted to partner with Andrew Brown from Deakin University for the third in our series of workshops on Systems Thinking into Practice. In the first two sessions, we engaged local government and health and community organisations, to interrogate the many systemic causes associated with complex health issues and identify potential leverage points for action. In the final session held this month, attendees identified the most important areas where they felt they had power to influence, and came up with suggestions for action based on feasibility and impact. We look forward to taking these findings forward to explore capacity and commitment to partnership action, particularly in the next planning cycle for the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans of local government.
Following the finishing up of work with Health Futures Australia in January, we are now excited to be working on developing the next steps in our Obesity Prevention initiative with local leaders, and building on the feedback from our well-attended December Summit at Deakin University.
In the Social Inclusion arena, we had the privilege of showcasing the recent achievements of Women’s Health East at the Social Inclusion Community of Practice. WHE’s Health Promotion Manager Autumn Pierce presented on two key pieces of work to bring a gendered lens to social inclusion. “Creating safe and inclusive public spaces for women” brings together the voices of women and their vital recommendations for urban planning (soon to be published); and “The Unheard Story – the impact of social inclusion on older women”, a paper that clearly demonstrates that women’s inequality compounds with age and that this needs to be recognised in the planning and provision of services. This commendable paper is a must-read and can be found on the WHE website.
In a new and exciting project being led by the IEPCP, a working group has been convened to establish a partnership to enhance the Social Inclusion and Health & Wellbeing of International Students in the catchment. There is strong cross-sectoral interest in working together with the three universities: Deakin, Monash, and Swinburne, to strengthen relationships, service pathways and promoting community connectedness with students. We look forward to seeing how this partnership develops.
The IEPCP is very proud to launch our new “Inner East Region Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Community Profile” in recognition of the need to support organisations with local data for planning. This community profile has been prepared by the IEPCP as a data source document to support our partners with their planning, submissions, service support, and advocacy, and to contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live, work and play in our catchment. We invite local organisations working on projects with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to contact us to include any further information about the current activity to further build this resource.
On a final note, we still have no word on the future of PCPs across the State, however, we understand the results of the review commissioned by DHHS will be known by the end of March. As such, we continue with our advocacy and I was pleased to be invited, together with Executive Officer Jacky Close from the Outer East PCP, by Sonja Terpstra MLC, member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, to meet with her and ALP colleagues Shaun Leane MLC, President of the Legislative Council, and Paul Hamer MP for Box Hill, to discuss the great work being achieved by the partnerships and what would be lost in the region should we be defunded. We were accompanied by several Board members who spoke passionately in support of PCPs, and I would like to emphatically thank Viv Cunningham-Smith (CEO Eastern Volunteers), Kristine Olaris (CEO Women’s Health East), Ann Elkins (Director Strategy, Development and Marketing EACH), and Kate Gibson (Manager Partnerships and Community Development Eastern Community Legal Centre), for your advocacy and testimonials, and to Ronda Jacobs (CEO Carrington HealthAbility) for your guidance.