Australian Government - Department of Health
A Healthy and Active Australia
A Healthy and Active Australia

Healthy Communities Initiative

Through the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health the Australian Government is providing $71.8 million over five years from 2009-10 under the Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) to support Local Government Areas (LGAs) in delivering effective community-based physical activity and healthy eating programs, as well as developing a range of local policies that support healthy lifestyle behaviours.

Key elements of the HCI include:

1. Grants to LGAs;

2. National Program Grants; and

3. Healthy Communities Quality Framework, Registration

Local Government Area Grants

Under the HCI, $61.5 million is available in grants to 92 LGAs across Australia to increase the number of adults predominantly not in the paid workforce engaged in physical activity and healthy eating programs and activities.

The LGA Grants will: LGA Grants were awarded in three phases commencing with Phase 1 in April 2010. Phase 2 in June 2011 and Phase 3 commenced in December 2011.

Phase 1 LGA Grants

Under Phase 1, $410,130 (GST exclusive) per grant was awarded to 12 Pilot LGAs for the period April/May 2010 – June 2011. Additional funding of $566,042 (GST exclusive) was provided to the Pilot LGAs to progress to an extension phase of funding (July 2011 - June 2013). This extension was based on an assessment of performance against agreed performance criteria. The 12 LGAs funded under Phase 1 are:

Phase 2 LGA Grants

Under Phase 2 of the HCI, funding of $703,607 (GST exclusive) per grant was awarded to 33 LGAs across Australia for the period June 2011 – June 2014. The 33 LGAs funded under Phase 2 are:

Phase 3 LGA Grants

Under Phase 3 of the HCI, funding of $566,042 (GST exclusive) per grant has been awarded to 47 LGAs across Australia for the period December 2011 – June 2014. The successful LGAs under Phase 3 are:

National Program Grants

The HCI also provides $6.52 million for National Program Grants (NPGs) to enable not-for-profit organisations to expand their healthy lifestyle programs across Australia. The aim of the NPGs is to ensure these programs are available nationally, including to a majority of the LGA's participating in the HCI.

Six organisations have been selected and funded to deliver a variety of community-based healthy lifestyle programs until June 2013. A description of each program is below.

All of the programs train community members and/or qualified fitness or health professionals to deliver programs in the local communities. Individuals who are interested in being involved in program delivery are encouraged to contact the NPG recipients directly for more information.

National Heart Foundation of Australia - Heart Foundation Walking is Australia’s largest network of free community based walking groups led by volunteer community members. Currently there are over 910 Heart Foundation Walking groups stepping out each week with over 12,500 participants involved in the program.

Participation in the walking groups is free. Each walking group is led by a community member (Walk Organiser) and groups are coordinated at a local level by community agencies (Area Coordinator).

The Heart Foundation trains and supports Area Coordinators to administer, support and promote the program. The Heart Foundation provides professional development opportunities, support materials, merchandise, hard copy resources and promotional tools at minimal cost to the Area Coordinators.

Walk Organisers are community members who volunteer to lead their walking group in their neighbourhood. No specific qualifications are required as they receive the required minimum training from their Area Coordinator.

Walkers register for free and are encouraged to join the Walker Recognition Scheme that provides incentives and recognition at particular walking milestones (e.g., 25 walks). There is the option of receiving the quarterly newsletter and participating in regular walking events.

For more information, visit the Heart Foundation website.

Australian Diabetes Council - Beat It! Physical Activity and Lifestyle (Beat It) Program - The Beat It program is an evidence-based exercise and lifestyle education/modification program that consists of twice weekly physical activity training plus fortnightly lifestyle education and nutrition sessions. This safe and effective group based, semi structured program is suitable for adults with or at risk of chronic diseases or with conditions such as obesity and metabolic syndrome.

The Beat It program includes: Beat It can be implemented in a wide variety of settings, from gymnasiums right through to community centres with very limited or no access to exercise equipment. There is a maximum of 15 participants in each program.

Beat It uses a train-the-trainer model to teach Certificate IV Personal Trainers and other exercise and health professionals the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver the program. With NPG support, the training courses and associated accreditation are provided for free. Some travel subsidies will also be made available to assist with costs associated with attending training.

For more information, visit the Australian Diabetes Council website.

Fitness Australia (with Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute) - Lift for Life - The Lift for Life program, developed by researchers at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, is an evidence-based resistance training program for people with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes or other chronic diseases. It is available to adults of all ages.

The Lift for Life program is provided through licensed health and fitness businesses and other community organisations, including but not limited to fitness centres, personal training studios and physiotherapy clinics. Participants undertake an initial assessment and an individualised program is then developed for each person. The Lift for Life program is conducted in small groups of up to 12 people over six months, with three distinct eight week phases. These are: Follow-up assessments, program reviews and modifications are undertaken after each eight week phase and a progress report is provided to participants.

Lift for Life is licensed to private health and fitness businesses who manage or have access to a range of progressive resistance equipment required to deliver the program. Only businesses with use of the appropriate equipment and whose staff have undertaken the accreditation course can be licensed to deliver the program.

Lift for Life uses a train-the-trainer model to accredit Certificate IV Personal Trainers, Exercise Physiologists or Physiotherapists in the program delivery. These exercise professionals are required to undertake a 20 hour training course covering the special needs of the programs target group in order to be accredited to deliver the program. With NPG support, the training course and accreditation are provided for free to successful applicants.

For more information, visit the Lift for Life website.

Cycling Australia (with the Amy Gillett Foundation) - AustCycle - AustCycle aims to equip people with the skills and confidence to cycle regularly through the provision of cycle training. The types of training courses range from beginner programs through to skills for riding in more challenging situations, including coping with traffic and riding safely in groups. AustCycle training courses are designed to teach participants of all ability levels how to ride in on-road and off-road environments and can be targeted for new cyclists or people who have ridden before and wish to increase their activity and bicycle use. Programs can cater for between three to eight students per Teacher depending on the skill, confidence and attitudes of participants.

The program uses a train-the-trainer model to train people to become accredited AustCycle Teachers who then deliver cycling training to the community through their own businesses or for an accredited AustCycle Provider (e.g., cycling school). AustCycle Providers are independent licensees able to run training courses that their Teachers are accredited to deliver. AustCycle Providers are usually small businesses, but can also include community groups, cycling clubs and local councils.

The AustCycle Teacher training course includes elements on nutrition, achieving a healthy weight through exercise and developing programs for individuals and groups to address healthy weight and fitness objectives.

For more information, visit the AustCycle website.

Sydney South West GP Link (SSWGPL) - Healthy Eating, Activity and Lifestyle (HEAL) Program - HEAL is an eight week nutrition and physical activity program that primarily targets adults who are at risk of developing lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Participants undertake an initial assessment, then join HEAL at any week in the cycle, continuing for eight consecutive weeks. The program includes a one hour group based exercise session accompanied by one hour of nutrition education each week, with participants reviewed upon program completion and again at five and 12 months. Individuals who participate in the HEAL Program are also provided with a basic home-based exercise program for exercise uptake in between sessions.

HEAL uses a train-the-trainer model to train two tiers of facilitators:

1. Qualified exercise physiologists and dietitians are trained over two days as Tier 1 HEAL Facilitators to deliver the program to community members, as well as become trainers of the future Tier 2 HEAL Facilitators.

2. Tier 2 HEAL Facilitators are trained by Tier 1 HEAL Facilitators to deliver the HEAL program to community members. Qualified exercise physiologists, exercise scientists, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers can complete the one day training course for Tier 2 HEAL Facilitators.

With NPG support, Tier 1 training courses, travel costs for Tier 1 training, and accreditation are provided for free. Travel subsidies may also be available to assist with costs associated with attending Tier 2 training courses. Some subsidies may be provided to each Tier 1 and Tier 2 Facilitator to support the implementation and establishment of the HEAL Program within their own community following training.

For more information, visit the Sydney South West GP Link Ltd website.

National Heart Foundation of Australia - NSW Division - Heartmoves - The Heart Foundation Heartmoves program focuses on delivering low-to-moderate intensity exercise in small groups. The program is designed to safely build strength and fitness, as well as improve balance. Heartmoves is suitable for anyone who has not done any exercise in a while. Heartmoves is evidence based and incorporates components of aerobic activity, weight-bearing or resistance exercise, balance and stretching.

Heartmoves caters for all adults, and is specifically designed to be safe for people who may have risk factors (such as obesity) or health conditions (such as arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes). The program is offered on an ongoing basis (i.e., not time limited) and there is scope in the program to include seated versions of all exercises to accommodate participants of all levels and abilities or to be delivered as a water-based program, if necessary.

Heartmoves leaders are trained and accredited exercise professionals who are ready to tailor exercises to each individual’s needs. A two day training course, plus online component, open to a range of health professionals, provides the skills to deliver the program to small groups in community settings. Certificate III or IV fitness leaders, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists, diabetes educators and other health professionals can be trained as Heartmoves leaders. With NPG support, a subsidy will be made available to reduce costs associated with attending the training course.

For more information, visit the Heart Foundation website.

Healthy Communities Quality Framework

The implementation of the HCI is being supported through the development of a national Healthy Communities Quality Framework, against which of programs and service providers will be registered and promoted on a web-based registration portal.

The Quality Framework has been developed to ensure that healthy lifestyle programs and service providers utilised under the HCI are: The Framework is made up of three components: The development of the Quality Framework was informed by an environmental scan and literature review, extensive stakeholder consultation and pilot testing. It has been designed to acknowledge existing accreditation systems, rather than add extra administrative burden.

The Department has engaged Quality Management Services (QMS) to undertake the role of the Registration Body, which will assess programs and service providers against the standards outlined in the Quality Framework. The registration process is supported by the Healthy Living Network, a registration portal that was launched in March 2012.

The portal is web-based, allowing members of the community and health professionals to access it and search for activities and services in their area.

The Healthy Living Network will list all registered programs and service providers in each funded LGA, including NPGs.

Registration is recommended for all programs and service providers under the HCI, and encouraged for those not currently involved in the HCI but promoting healthy lifestyles.

For further information on the Healthy Living Network and the registration process contact QMS on 1300 HLN 000.

To view the Quality Framework in its entirety click on the following link: Healthy Communities Initiative Quality Framework (PDF 648 KB).
Healthy Communities Initiative Quality Framework (HTML)

Link to the Healthy Living Network portal.