The Mirror News

Shire wants views on draft public health plan

LOCAL people’s views are wanted on the South Gippsland Shire’s draft Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2022 – 2025 by Wednesday August 3, 2022.

Councillors voted unanimously to endorse the 21-page document and to ask for community opinions at the open ordinary council meeting held in Leongatha on Wednesday July 20, 2022.

The meeting’s agenda and minutes state that “the Draft Plan has been developed to support [and improve] good health and wellbeing of the South Gippsland community and visitors to our area.” 

The plan also “outlines the priorities and actions for delivery of services, programs and partnerships, of Council and external organisations”, and is based on “guidance from the local community, health service providers and partner organisations.”

The Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 directs each Local Government Area (LGA) in the State to prepare a four-year health and wellbeing plan within twelve months of council elections.

The Act specifies that such plans are required to “reference priorities of the State Health and Wellbeing Plan 2019–2023, local health and wellbeing data, and include strategies to address climate change and prevention of family violence.”

The five key themes of South Gippsland Shire’s draft health plan are equity, improved mental wellbeing, increasing healthy and active living, increasing healthy eating, and tackling climate change.

Each theme includes a goal, such as “access and inclusion, and creating safe and respectful communities” for equity, while the aim for increasing healthy eating is “local food for local people”.

The draft plan also provides health and wellbeing data for the five themes that draws comparisons between South Gippsland to the rest of Victoria, for example, 37.6 per cent of people in this Shire play sport in contrast to 28.7 percent of Victorians; and in 2019, 31.5 per cent of local people volunteered, while only 19.3 per cent of others in the State did so.

More alarmingly, the levels of domestic violence, depression and anxiety are higher in South Gippsland than the State average, as is the consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol, and the most common cause of death is coronary heart disease.

The draft plan lists the Shire’s proposed strategies to achieve the themes’ goals, as well as the indicators that will measure the extent and impact of the various actions recommended in the plan that are subsequently undertaken.

Partnering organisations, such as GippSport, Gamblers’ Help Gippsland, South Gippsland Hospital, Manna Gum Community House in Foster, Headspace Wonthaggi, Gippsland Homelessness Network, and Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault, South Gippsland Water, and South Gippsland Liquor Accord, are also identified in the plan.

After moving to back the preliminary version of the plan, Cr Mick Felton said, “in regard to drafts [like the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan], it’s all about community consultation”.

In a general appeal to the community, Cr Felton said, “you still need to get involved yourself and to give us your input to make sure we’re on the right track.

“We’re nine people from the community, and we’re here to advocate for you and to act as a conduit for you in council. 

“With the expected growth in South Gippsland, it is essential we have a good public health system and a wellbeing plan going forward.”

Seconder Cr Jenni Keerie said, “this is an opportunity for the community to provide feedback to council, and we need to hear from the people so we can make sure that we get the best information, so we can make decisions on your future.”

Deputy Mayor Nathan Hersey again urged residents and ratepayers to “show up”, adding “if this [public health] is an area of passion or interest to you.”

Cr Sarah Gilligan observed that South Gippsland’s “population is so dispersed across the Shire” and that “health services are very difficult for some of our communities to access”, with the “lack of public transport” a contributing factor.

South Gippsland Shire Mayor, Mohya Davies said “the draft Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan outlines priorities and actions that will provide guidance to Council and other health and wellbeing agencies that service the South Gippsland community.

“It is important that the plan identifies any issues currently facing our residents and actions to address them. It is also important that it considers areas we may need to concentrate on in the future,” she said.

“Feedback on this draft plan is encouraged – we would love to hear your thoughts and to know if there is anything else that should be considered.”

Read the draft Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan online at:

The consultation period closes 3 August 3, 2022.


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