Gannawarra Shire Council is located in Kerang Victoria and has been a member of the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program since 2015. Gannawarra Shire Council was recently awarded Victorian Government recognition for the Healthy Eating priority area.
One of the major improvements was a commitment by Gannawarra Shire Council to develop an organisation-wide Healthy Eating/Catering Policy which was included in the Council Plan 2017-2021 (supported by the Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan). As a result, drinking water fountains were made available in council buildings, such as libraries, swimming pools and council offices to encourage both staff and community members to consume water as their drink of choice.
Healthy snack boxes were trialled over a six-month period across worksites and staff survey results supported them to stay permanently at the Kerang Office which is cost neutral to council.
Stacy Williams is Director Community Wellbeing at Gannawarra Shire Council and has been heavily involved with their Achievement Program success.
“Achieving recognition in the state-wide Healthy Workplace Achievement Program means that the health and wellbeing of every staff member is a priority, with opportunities available to make healthy choices while at work,” Mrs Williams said.
A number of staff participated in the Life! Program from Diabetes Victoria which resulted in positive behaviour changes such as more food being brought into the office from home. New workplace initiatives were also introduced including the inclusion of healthy food for morning teas and a tearoom fruit bowl for staff to select from and even contribute home grown produce to.
Within the local community, Gannawarra Shire Council has committed to improve local food systems and access to healthy food and food insecurity. As a result, funding has supported the establishment of 10 edible food garden projects across the shire, providing access to free and fresh produce. Council is also working closely with neighbourhood houses on a ‘Healthy Food for All’ project. There is also a ‘Healthy Fridge’ initiative at two sport and recreation centres. Gannawarra Shire Council is also supporting schools to implement the healthy school breakfast program.
“The Achievement Program has allowed Council to support the wider community in a range of initiatives that support and encourage healthy choices. It has demonstrated the commitment of Council, community, schools and other partners to all work together to ensure that healthy choices are promoted and encouraged, particularly for the youngest of residents across the municipality,” Mrs Williams said.
Gannawarra Shire Council will continue to work towards building a sense of community and connection around healthy food and are working to achieve their final health priority area – Alcohol and Other Drugs.