The Challenges of Good Health

Cardinia Shire is experiencing a range of significant challenges that negatively affect the health, wellbeing and quality of life of many residents. Tackling these challenges effectively requires a cohesive and system-wide approach. It needs to be guided by a shared vision and sense of responsibility across institutions, organisations and residents of Cardinia. This is the basis of the ‘Cardinia Food Circles’ project.

Many of the serious challenges, such as the high rates of preventable hospital admissions resulting from diabetes, have their origins in the food system. The extensive work of Healthy Together Cardinia has documented these challenges in its work from 2012 to 2016. The team, working in partnership with local food system stakeholders, has created a substantial knowledge-base. It has supported a number of successful local projects and interventions upon which this project can build.

Cardinia Shire Council and Sustain have come together to share collective experience and knowledge and to take a collective approach to finding local solutions to local problems. The aim is to strengthen communities and build local food-system resilience and food literacy among shire residents. Through this approach, Cardinia intends to be the first community in Australia to successfully address the obesity crisis through mutually reinforcing strategies. The Cardinia Health and Wellbeing Plan links the part of this work.

The Food Circles Project

Given the increasing levels of diet-related illness in Cardinia Shire and the severely destructive impact of obesity on resident’s quality of life and our economic productivity, there exists a strong sense of urgency in Cardinia Shire for a game-changing initiative. An initiative is needed to address this complex and wicked health problem with sustained long-term action led by all sectors of the community and in tandem with government departments and the philanthropic sector.

Cardinia Food Circles will build upon the extensive work of Healthy Together Cardinia. An ambitious ten-year vision will be developed. Clear achievable targets will be set. The vision is achievable if the Shire’s collective energies are harnessed towards the realisation of the shared vision of a healthy and sustainable local food system.

Objectives of the Project

The Cardinia Food Circles Project will support the Shire of Cardinia, community food leaders and Shire residents in the establishment, promotion and expansion of a healthy, delicious, sustainable and fair food system for all Shire residents.

The project has a ten-year vision to achieve the following objectives:

  • Reduce the overweight and obesity rates by 30 per cent.
  • Balance the ratio of healthy food outlets to fast food outlets to become 1:1.
  • Reduce per capita visits to fast food outlets in the Shire by 20 per cent.
  • Increase the food and health literacy of the Shire to 80 per cent.
  • Increase the regularity of access to fresh fruit and vegetables to at least 50 per cent (weekly), with access distances reduced a 1km walk from people’s homes.
  • Increase local jobs and business opportunities in food and agriculture.

This vision involves following broad goals:

  1. To build a shared understanding of the Cardinia food system, and its challenges and opportunities, amongst a diverse and representative group of stakeholders
  2. To establish a shared and widely understood definition and baseline of food literacy with shire residents and council officers
  3. To raise levels of food literacy across the shire, particularly amongst youth
  4. To build capacity amongst Council staff and councillors by integrating food systems thinking across different business units and within key Council plans and strategies
  5. To diversify food distribution and consumption in the shire, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal and where possible local produce
  6. To support business innovation and local job creation in the shire’s food system.
  7. To advocate to other levels of government through research and case studies for changes in planning policy for better control around density and proximity to vulnerable communities of fast food outlets.

Shared Indicators

  • Participatory creation of a food systems profile for Cardinia as a baseline for the project, with periodic reviews to monitor progress
  • Participatory creation of a Cardinia Food Plan with prioritised strategies and actions
  • Participatory creation of a shared definition and baseline of food literacy for Cardinia
  • Increase food literacy levels by an agreed target over four years (2017-2021)
  • Food waste audit generated & packaged/processed food waste reduction strategy supported
  • Embed healthy food systems principles into key Council documents, departments and programs
  • Expand fresh food access by at least three new outlets per year (2017-21)
  • Investigate a showcase education and training ‘Centre for Food’ in Cardinia by 2021
  • An increase in families cooking and eating meals at home each week
  • Reduce per capita consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages

Our Collective Impact Model

The project will adopt a collective impact approach whereby a group of stakeholders from different sectors commit to a common agenda for solving a complex social problem. There are five conditions of success that together lead to meaningful results:

  • Develop a common agenda.
  • Come to a shared agreement on the ways success will be measured and reported.
  • Agree on mutually reinforcing activities.
  • Carry out continuous communication.
  • Provide backbone support including an independent, funded staff-member dedicated to the initiative to co-ordinate the activities.

Initially, Sustain will assume the backbone function and over the life of the initiative the function will transfer to Council and the community. Both Sustain and Cardinia Shire Council are committed to support the development of leadership capability and value the expertise within the community so that sustained outcomes can be achieved.

The Spirit of Co-operation

The partnership between Sustain and Cardinia Shire Council is based on the shared view that collective impact will provide a long term opportunity to address the issue of food sustainability and food literacy in the community through a community action approach. It’s anticipated that other partners will join this collective approach over time, as we build the new Cardinia Food System.

Council and Sustain respect each other’s roles and seek mutually supportive and cooperative arrangements in order to achieve the best outcomes for Cardinia Shire communities. The partnership will work together to ensure that cooperative arrangements, policies and programs provide residents of Cardinia Shire with an opportunity to find local solutions for a local problems. Both parties recognise that the partnership is built on trust, open communication and respect for the skills and expertise provided by each partner.

There are a number of key activities for 2017:

  • Mapping existing and previous food systems work and organisations in the municipality
  • identifying and working with food champions and food leaders in Cardinia to establish a Cardinia Food Network
  • Working with local stakeholders to generate a food systems profile for Cardinia as a project baseline
  • Working with local stakeholders and organisations such as SAKGF to generate a locally-relevant definition of food literacy, and conducting a Shire-wide survey to establish a food literacy baseline
  • Working with SAKGF, Richmond AFL club and others to establish a Healthy Schools Network
  • Holding a Cardinia Food Summit (April/May 2017)
  • Training a team of 10 local food systems animators, and working with those animators to generate a Cardinia Food Plan (this will not be completed till around June 2018)
  • Working with internal stakeholders across different Council units to achieve significant Council-wide support for the project, and to embed its principles in the Health and Wellbeing Plan.

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