A small but dedicated team of community members known as the Community Health Information Collaboration (CHIC) has been meeting weekly to discuss community health issues in Brimbank.
The CHIC Program was initiated by Victoria University (VU) PhD research candidate Vicky Totikidis, and is supported by the Wellness Promotion Unit, VU, and a National Health and a National Health and Medical Research Council public health training scholarship.
Vicky said: "The first two sessions of the program explored internet-based health information resources and health issues and statistics at the Australian, Victorian and local community level, and later sessions focused on Brimbank and on action that could be taken to improve health in the community."
"Many diseases can be prevented through healthy eating and drinking, exercise, regular medical check-ups, and avoiding risks such as smoking.
"The CHIC team believes that school communities (which include children, parents, women, elderly citizens and friends) are important places for health promotion and disease prevention strategies. CHIC is now working towards concrete strategies to help Brimbank residents improve their health."
Vicky said the CHIC team had recently applied for two small grants to undertake school health promotion programs focused on healthy eating. The programs are being supported by members of the St Albans East Primary School, Nang Hong, the Latino-American Women's Association of Victoria, the Maltese Connections Association and the Filipino and Vietnamese communities.
She said: "The 2006 Socio-Economic Index For Areas (SEIFA) index showed that Brimbank is the third most disadvantaged of the 79 Local Government Areas in Victoria, on indicators such as low income, low educational attainment, unemployment and dwellings without motor vehicles."
Vicky's research also shows that Brimbank has high rankings on a number of health indicators (2001-2005), including:
- The highest number of deaths due to certain conditions originating in the perinatal period and congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities
- The third highest number of deaths for diabetes mellitus
- The fifth highest number of deaths for transport accidents and cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung
- The tenth highest number of deaths for cancer of the digestive organs
- The eleventh highest number of deaths for all malignant cancers.
Vicky Totikidis, a former VU staff member, is available for interview on 0421 529 566
Media contact: Andy Gash, A/Media Manager
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 4950; mobile: 0411 255 900