YARRIAMBIACK Shire Council will compete for a national award for its work to promote healthy living.
The council received a Heart Foundation state award at the Municipal Association of Victoria state conference dinner on Thursday night.
Council’s community services and development manager Gavin Blinman said the award recognised council’s work to increase the shire’s health outcomes, and its YCHANGe program.
The Yarriambiack Creating Healthy Active Nourished Generations program started in June 2016 after research found more than 70 per cent of the shire’s adults were overweight or obese – the highest percentage in Australia at the time.
Yarriambiack also had Victoria’s highest sugar-sweetened beverage consumption rate in 2016.
YCHANGe aimed to make it easy for residents to make healthy choices, including eating well and exercising.
Deakin University’s Jill Whelan leads the project, a partnership between the university, council, Rural Northwest Health, and Dunmunkle Health Services.
Mr Blinman said the groups had witnessed widespread change since the program started.
“We’ve been working with residents in a variety of ways, such as encouraging them to drink more water and make healthier nutritional choices,” he said.
“Jill has visited a lot of schools, community groups and seniors homes to talk about these issues.
“At the Yarriambiack Youth Summit earlier this year there was a survey that asked young people about their habits, and from that we found the amount of sugary drinks has really reduced, with most young people drinking one or less a day.
“YCHANGe is working intensively with kindergartens in particular to promote healthy nutrition from an early age.
“Jill is working with parents on the red, yellow and green food message, and that’s been really effective.”
Mr Blinman said a Heart Foundation representative would attend council’s October meeting on Wednesday to present the award.
“We’re really impressed to win, and we will continue to work with YCHANGe to roll out the healthy living message,” he said.
The council will represent Victoria at the Heart Foundation national awards next year.