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Regional QLD Changing Waistlines and Mindsets with New Toolkit

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Located 900km north-west of Brisbane, Emerald has a population of just over 14,000.

This small community is built upon strong mining and agriculture industries, workforces that traditionally have long hours, higher than average weekly incomes and poorer health outcomes.

Figures show that 34% of Central Queensland adults are obese and coronary heart disease in the region continues to rise. These alarming statistics led Wesley Medical Research to investigate ways to improve the health of Emerald
residents.

Sponsored by Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd, Adjunct Professor Mary-Louise Fleming (Lead Researcher), Louise Baldwin (Senior Researcher), Dr Tamara Street (Psychologist) and Klaire Somoray (Senior Research Assistant) conducted a six-month project in Emerald to co-develop a health promotion report and resource that is regionally relevant, cost-effective and innovative.

“Our approach was to engage locally to understand how we could work together to tackle the growing issue,“ said Dr Tamara Street.  This project combined evidence from national datasets with local insight and knowledge from health professionals, community leaders and service providers working and living in Emerald. 

The workshops identified strengths in the local community that are supporting healthy lifestyles and current barriers. The strained health services in the region here also acknowledged.

In the past 12 months, the community also identified mental health as a significant health priority after losing 18 lives to suicide in the region. 

“With strong evidence to suggest that regular exercise may alleviate some symptoms of depression, we hope this toolkit could assist in improving mindsets too,” said Dr Tamara Street.

The “Hey Emerald, Let’s Get Healthy” resource has been developed to assist health promotion planning and implementation. The free resource also includes promotional material suitable for the region. 

“The resources are focused on building sustainable healthy habits, instead of ‘quick fix’ solutions, The report outlines a range of recommendations to help build a happier and healthier Emerald” concluded Dr Street.

As well as providing access to a range of health promotion assets, the website also provides links to local free or low-cost programs already available in the Emerald area.

The Healthy Bowen Basin Report and links to free local resources are available via the link below:
www.wesleyresearch.org.au/healthyemerald

Dr Tamara Street workshopping strategies with local health and community leaders in Emerald.

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