Healthy Towns Community Engagement Project

Healthy Towns Community Engagement Project

Healthy Towns is an innovative Sunshine Coast born engagement project that showcases how USC health promotion academics and students are collaborating with regional stakeholders to identify and advance local health initiatives that are making a positive difference in their communities and beyond. 

Healthy Towns recognises and rewards through an awards process, the important work community organisations in rural and regional towns do to improve health and happiness at the local level. Projects eligible for a Healthy Towns Award focus on creating connections between people, people with their local community and greenspace.

Healthy Towns work group

From left to right: Jane Taylor (USC), Pattie Hudson (PHN), Nicole Cool (PHN), Carolyn Brewer (USC), Marianne Bell (PHN), Ana Leigh Greenfield (Caloundra Community Centre). Absent: Mary Kynn (USC), Kylie Finigan (Noosa Council), Cheryl Pattison (Sunshine Coast Council), Anne Roiko (Griffith University).

The connections between people award recognises projects that bring people together, increase social connections and provide a sense of belonging within their community. The connections with place award recognises projects that provide equitable access to resources and services, a sense of place and are culturally inclusive. The connections with greenspace award recognises projects that are environmentally friendly and have positive environmental impact locally. There is also an overall health and happiness award that recognises projects that create connections across all of these categories.

The inaugural Healthy Towns Awards was piloted in 2016 across the Sunshine Coast and Gympie regions with a view to expanding the reach of the project to more rural and regional communities in 2017/18.   The project is led by the Primary Health Network (Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast) in partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast, Caloundra Community Centre, Griffith University, and Noosa, Gympie and Sunshine Coast Councils.

USC health promotion academics and staff have been instrumental in the development of Healthy Towns through student placements, capstone projects and leadership of the project evaluation. Healthy Towns provides a fantastic community-based experiential learning opportunity for USC students and has seen the employment of three graduates by the lead organisation to progress the Healthy Towns Awards as a major annual event.

 To read more, please visit the USC website.