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Healthy Heart of Victoria

Bike riding in Mount Alexander

What is the Healthy Heart of Victoria?

Healthy Heart of Victoria (HHV) is an initiative aimed at improving the health of people in the Loddon Campaspe region – the ‘heart’ of Victoria.

The initiative was developed in response to the higher than Victorian average rates of obesity, chronic disease and high-risk health behaviours currently seen within the region.

Healthy Heart of Victoria projects are designed to focus on those parts of the community that are the least active and least supported. The initiative aims to get more people, more active, more often.

Mount Alexander Shire Council is one of six local councils involved in the initiative. Other councils involved are Campaspe Shire, Central Goldfields Shire, City of Greater Bendigo, Loddon Shire and Macedon Ranges Shire.


In 2016 the community told the Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership that it was concerned about health statistics and outcomes in the region. They also believed that health is everyone’s business, not just health services and professionals.

A series of design workshops were undertaken to address these concerns, involving over 100 stakeholders from local government, health services, primary care partnerships, universities and state government departments to develop the Healthy Heart of Victoria implementation framework. Subsequently, in 2018 the Healthy Heart of Victoria initiative was funded $5M.

There are three main components to the initiative. These are the Active Living Census, Infrastructure and activation and a Health Broker.

On Your Bike youth cycling workshops

The On Your Bike workshops aim to show students how to ride safely and confidently in and around towns. We ride and discuss road rules, best roads, tracks and routes to travel in the local area.

Check out the On Your Bike workshop video for more information.

The Active Living Census

A survey was conducted in May and June 2019 to help with planning for health and recreation services and allow better understanding of people’s activity levels and preferences.

First conducted within the City of Greater Bendigo in 2014, the Active Living Census (ALC) was carried out across all households in the Loddon Campaspe region in 2019.

The census was available online and in hard copy to people across the region. It was completed by over 24,500 people throughout region, including by 2,329 people in Mount Alexander Shire. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey.

The findings provide evidence at a local level, and enable reliable comparisons with other data, as well as across townships and demographic groups such as age and gender.

Further, the findings provide valuable information on what would help people meet national guidelines for healthy eating and active living, and help support efforts to reduce rates of obesity, chronic disease and high-risk health behaviours by encouraging more people to be more active, more often.

Key statistics for the Mount Alexander Shire:

• Residents have high levels of life satisfaction (76.5%), with more than four out of five respondents rating their health as good to excellent.
• Two in every three adults in the Mount Alexander Shire are overweight or obese (56.1%). This is higher than the Victorian average of 49.7%.
• One in 13 households (7.7%) in the Mount Alexander Shire are food insecure – they do not have enough to eat. In some areas, this increases to one in 7 households. This is higher than the Victorian average of 6.2%.
• 10.5% of adults are daily consumers of sugary drinks. This is lower than the Victorian average of 11.2%.
• One in every two adults (54%) meet the daily fruit consumption guidelines. This is better than the Victorian average of 42.9%.
• One in every six adults meet the daily vegetable consumption guidelines (16.4%) as compared to the Victorian average of 4.9%.
• 9.0% of adults are current smokers with higher rates among males than females. This is a lower than the Victorian smoking rates (16.7%).
• 61.5% of residents (including children 3+) meet the physical activity guidelines. People in the Mount Alexander Shire want to be more active more often, with 55.3% wanting to do more activity.
• Walking is the most popular type of physical activity, followed by swimming, bushwalking/ hiking, and cycling.
• Castlemaine Botanical Gardens was the most popular recreation facility across Mount Alexander Shire, followed by Castlemaine War Memorial Stadium. Gurri Wanyarra was rated as the most popular and best quality facility across the Loddon Campaspe region.
• Food insecurity and household self-rated prosperity appear to be key predictors for a cluster of health behaviours and outcomes, with food insecure and low income households reporting lower levels of health and wellbeing overall, higher rates of overweight and obesity, higher rates of health-risk behaviours (i.e. smoking, alcohol, sugary drinks) and lower rates of health-protecting behaviours (i.e. physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption).

The reports for Mount Alexander Shire and the Loddon Campaspe region are now available.

A video is available that outlines the Active Living Census, explains the different reports and how to use the data. Watch the video.

Have you used the findings from the Active Living Census? We want to hear about it! Please answer these three quick questions to help us to understand how the findings are being used.

We encourage all residents, organisations and interested community groups to download the reports. They are available for anyone to access and can be used in a variety of ways such as to support grant applications and funding submissions, or to gain a greater understanding of local health and wellbeing behaviours.

Key documents
Mount Alexander Shire selected findings report (pdf, 3.5MB)
Mount Alexander Shire topline report (pdf, 9MB)
Loddon Campaspe region reports

Infrastructure and activation that gets more people, more active, more often

Improvements to infrastructure, facilities and/or programs across the region to enable more community members to increase their activity levels.

The Healthy Heart of Victoria infrastructure and activation projects in Mount Alexander Shire include walking and cycling trail linkages in Castlemaine, a pedestrian crossing on Forest Street near Camp Reserve in Castlemaine as well as the installation of seating, drinking fountains and wayfinding signs. A pedestrian crossing, accessible ramp and footpath at Hargraves Street which will link to the upgraded Forest Creek trail, Western Reserve and through to Campbells Creek and Barkers Creek trails.

To support people walking, riding and scootering in the shire we are installing hoops for bike storage, bike maintenance and repair stations for bikes some water fountains and an e-bike/ scooter charge point in a central location to Castlemaine CBD.

Health is everyone’s business video

We all play a role in shaping our community. Let’s start a conversation about where and how health happens and hardly mention healthcare at all.

Healthy Heart of Victoria in-conjunction with Healthy Greater Bendigo have developed an explanatory video on the role we can play in creating a healthy community.

The video aims to start a conversation and build a shared knowledge of the influencers of health and wellbeing.

The Health is Everyone’s Business video uses data from the 2019 Active Living Census to tell a story about our community’s health and why we take a Health in all Policies approach.

This video can be used as a resource and education tool. It helps explain the social determinants of health, ask viewers to consider health and wellbeing and how their decisions can influence health, and to build capacity in health and wellbeing in all we do.

Healthy Heart of Victoria and Goldfields Libraries StoryWalks

Healthy Heart of Victoria and Goldfields Libraries have teamed up to bring the hugely popular StoryWalks to a variety of locations across the Loddon Campaspe region. StoryWalks are a fun, educational activity that places a children’s story (literally a book taken apart!) along a popular walking route in the community.

StoryWalks are a physical activity and literacy experience in one. Being active is good for our bodies, and reading is good for our brains. The combination of both is a great all-round activity for our health and wellbeing!

StoryWalks are located in the following locations across our region:

• Castlemaine – Castlemaine Train Station west side heading along Barkers Creek Trail (Gingell St) towards the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens
• Kyneton – Share path next to Kyneton Primary School, OLR and the Kindergarten, between Victoria and Edgecombe Streets
• Long Gully – coming soon!
• Heathcote – coming soon!

The StoryWalk books will be updated every few months, and we encourage locals and visitors to walk, scoot or ride their local StoryWalk often, or venture to another town to check out theirs!

To find out further information, or to tell us your thoughts of the StoryWalk, or to report a problem, please visit the Goldfields Libraries webpage.

Thank you to Nacho Station for also being involved in this StoryWalks project.

Healthy Heart of Victoria and Goldfields Library Corporation acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and waterways of our region. We recognise their living cultures and ongoing connection to Country and pay respect to their Elders past and present.

The StoryWalk® project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk is a registered service mark owned by Ms Ferguson.

Wellbeing Committee

The Wellbeing Committee at Mount Alexander Shire Council aims is to implement a Healthy Workforce Framework, based on the World Health Organisation Workplace model under the guidance of the Achievement Program. This framework brings together existing practices, processes and initiatives consistent with a whole of organisation approach to health and wellbeing.

Our goals as a committee are to improve the health and wellbeing of staff through:

• Raising awareness of health and wellbeing among staff
• Building capacity among staff to consider health and wellbeing in their work, in the community and at a local government level
• Demonstrating best practice leadership in health and wellbeing

This case study shows some of the exceptional work we have achieved thus far as a committee.

Interested in joining the Wellbeing Committee? Then we would love to hear from you. Please email Simone at or Amanda at

Adventure Bingo

Adventure Bingo invites residents to collect or download an Adventure Bingo booklet and participate in one of six walks in each of the participating local government areas. Through the initiative participants can spot points of interest listed in the booklet during their walk. Once they’ve spotted three items in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal line, they’ve got bingo.

The Mount Alexander Shire Adventure Bingo walk is a Castlemaine city circuit starting at Victory Park on the corner of Barker and Mostyn Streets. Bingo booklets are available for free at Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre and Castlemaine Library.

Health Broker workforce

A workforce of ‘Health Brokers’ has been appointed to work across the six Loddon Campaspe Councils.

Our Health Broker is Simone Hooppell. Simone’s role as part of Healthy Heart of Victoria is to develop relationships between Council, local organisations and community groups to help build knowledge and influence decision making with respect to health and wellbeing. Get in touch with Simone.

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