Sunraysia Community Health Services walks the talk

Tuesday 21 July, 2020

Pictured: Kelly Naess, academic officer and Simone Heald, CEO.


Sunraysia Community Health Services (SCHS) is the first workplace in the rural City of Mildura to receive Victorian Government recognition for creating an active workforce in the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program.


The Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program is a free Victorian Government health and wellbeing program delivered by Cancer Council Victoria. There are more than 1,000 workplaces across Victoria currently signed up to the program and making healthy changes! 


Workplaces that join are supported to achieve targets that address key health areas including healthy eating, mental health and wellbeing, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol and other drugs. Once the targets for each health area are achieved, workplaces can receive Victorian Government recognition.


SCHS, an organisation dedicated to promoting health and wellbeing for the local Mildura community, has also been ‘walking the talk’ by mobilising its 200-strong workforce to practise healthy lifestyles through its work in the Achievement Program. Since 2013, SCHS has met best-practice targets to achieve recognition for the health areas of healthy eating and physical activity, with ongoing efforts to address other program health areas.


Sarah Carn, health promotion officer at SCHS, attributes the health and wellbeing success to strong leadership support and a good workplace culture.


“Our organisation provides a culture where employees’ feel safe to try new things, even though it may not work – and that’s ok! Our biggest supporter in encouraging healthy lifestyles and taking part in new initiatives is our CEO, Simone Heald, and her backing helps to set the positive tone towards workplace health and wellbeing,” Ms Carn said.   


Simone Heald, CEO at SCHS, said plenty of new initiatives have been introduced­ – some big and some small­ – to help deliver a coordinated approach to creating a more active workforce.


“We are simply not sedentary at work, and keeping active is synonymous with our daily jobs.  For example, we have sit-stand workstations, a centralised printing location to encourage staff to move around the office, change rooms with showers and bike racks to promote active transport, walking meetings and physical activity throughout the day, and an e-bike that staff can book and use,” Ms Heald said.


Staff are also given opportunities to take part in community initiatives such joining the local parkrun program twice a year, enjoying a weekly Heart Foundation walking group, challenging themselves in a biannual MS SimAthon, annual participation in the 10,000 Steps Challenge, which encourages staff to take10,000 steps every day, and an internal workplace push up challenge.


According to Ms Carn, the suite of activities is well supported by all staff and helps to strengthen working relationships as well as connections with the local community.


“Together, staff have enjoyed the team building aspects of getting active. As physical activity attributes to positive workplace mental health and wellbeing, we have the environment to support staff to have a go,” Ms Carn said.




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