Victoria University’s heartland is Melbourne’s West and the West is facing a health crisis.
Chronic diseases such as diabetes are endemic within the region, with Type 2 Diabetes higher than the state average, and in Brimbank, it is twice as prevalent.
The cultural and linguistic diversity of the West can be enriching for the community, but it can also lead to social exclusion and disadvantage when English levels are low and cultural beliefs and financial restraints prove a barrier to accessing services and fully participating in the broader community.
The epicentre of this diversity is the City of Brimbank whose residents have been identified as being at greater risk of developing chronic disease.
Together with VU it has established the Brimbank Collaboration – a joint research initiative to investigate how to improve the health and education of Brimbank’s current and future generations.
The project involves implementing good health practice and education into maternal and child health and early childhood services since early intervention for at-risk children is proven to produce positive and long-lasting effects.
VU’s expertise in sport and active living will help determine how to best engage the diverse community to develop programs that have an immediate impact and can be developed into long-term changes, not just in the West, but across Australia.
VU global health expert and director of VU’s Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Professor Maximilian de Courten launched the program with a recent public discussion, as part of the University’s inaugural Research Festival.
He was joined by Kath Brackett, Brimbank’s community planning and development manager.
The discussion also featured information about two related Brimbank projects:
- Living Brooklyn, a project exploring water management and pollution problems in Brooklyn's industrially-zoned areas, featuring Dr Roger Jones from the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies and Adrian Gray from Brimbank City Council.
- Public street art program B-Creative for local youth. Dr Alison Baker from the Victoria Institute and Charlotte Hilder from Brimbank City Council spoke about the psychosocial benefits, sense of civic identity and connection to community that project has fostered.