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Active Living Census findings available

People stretching legs for exercise.

The results of the Active Living Census are back, with an update on the health and wellbeing of our shire.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council has released results of the Active Living Census, showing that residents have high levels of life satisfaction in general, but face a number of health challenges.

More than four out of five respondents rating their health as good to excellent, while just over half (56.1%) are overweight or obese. There are lower levels of smoking (9.0%) than the Victorian average (16.7%), and almost two in three (61.5%) meet the physical activity guidelines.

The census was sent to every household in the shire in 2019, with a return rate of 12.5%. It asked residents questions about their health and wellbeing, participation in sport and physical activity, consumption of fruit, vegetables, water, alcohol and sugary drinks and more.

It aimed to gather an insight into the health and wellbeing of shire residents and importantly to collect data that will inform decision making on investments, infrastructure, programs and services to support improving health outcomes for the shire.

“It’s great to have this snapshot of data to help us better understand the needs and priorities for health and wellbeing in our shire,” said Darren Fuzzard, CEO of Mount Alexander Shire.

“We are so grateful to residents for their time and effort in responding to this extensive survey, and their honesty in providing details about their health and lifestyle,” said Mr Fuzzard.

“The findings are incredibly valuable for Council, community agencies, schools, sporting clubs, community groups and residents. It helps us all to be better placed to advocate for projects that support the health and wellbeing of our community.

“Importantly, we will be able to use the information to tailor investment in infrastructure and programs that support good health.”

Like many communities, almost 60% of respondents said they are not doing as much physical activity as often as they would like. People said the main barriers that stop them exercising are being too busy, don’t feel motivated, feel embarrassed, or have poor health.

The census results are in two reports – a comprehensive topline report featuring detailed tables of data on every survey question, and a selected findings report highlighting the main findings.

“The Selected Findings report is broken down by each township and surrounding area as well as by the top activities with the highest rate of yearly participation, and into specific demographic and population groups,” said Mr Fuzzard.

“This means you can look at and compare the preferred activities and health and wellbeing of people across each of our townships, from our larger towns like Castlemaine, through to our smaller towns like Elphinstone,” he said.

The Active Living Census was funded by the Healthy Heart of Victoria initiative and project-managed by Healthy Greater Bendigo. The census is a key part of the Healthy Heart of Victoria initiative which was funded to address concerning health statistics across the Loddon Campaspe region – the heart of Victoria. In addition to the census, infrastructure and activation projects to get more people, more active, more often and encourage healthy eating, as well as policy work to help make health everyone’s business, are already underway.

The Active Living Census reports are available to view at www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/HealthyHeart.

Key findings from 2019 Active Living Census for Mount Alexander Shire include:

o Residents have high levels of life satisfaction (76.5%), with more than four out of five respondents rating their health as good to excellent.
o 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%.
o 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%.
o 10.5% of adults are daily consumers of sugary drinks. This is lower than the Victorian average of 11.2%.
o One in every two adults (54%) meet the daily fruit consumption guidelines. This is higher than the Victorian average of 42.9%.
o One in every six adults meet the daily vegetable consumption guidelines (16.4%) as compared to the Victorian average of 4.9%.
o 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%).
o 61.5% of residents (including children 3+) meet the physical activity guidelines. People in Mount Alexander Shire want to be more active more often, with 55.3% wanting to do more activity.
o Walking is the most popular type of physical activity, followed by swimming, bushwalking/ hiking, and cycling.
o Castlemaine Botanical Gardens was the most popular recreation facility in Mount Alexander Shire, followed by Castlemaine War Memorial Stadium. Gurri Wanyarra in Kangaroo Flat was rated as the most popular and best quality facility across the Loddon Campaspe region.
o 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).

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