Kitchen Gardens Playground

Kitchen Gardens to Teach Kids Healthy Food Habits

Kitchen Gardens Playground

Grampians Community Health are excited with the newly announced Kitchen Gardens Playground to Plate grants scheme funded by the Victorian Government.

Administered by the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, the aim is to help Victorian schools to enhance their whole-school approach to health and wellbeing. This targeted boost of infrastructure funding will support the delivery of pleasurable food education. It’s a significant move from the Victorian Government to fund schools where resourcing may be a barrier to implementing a kitchen garden program.

“Financial resources can be scarce for many schools, so materials and equipment need to be prioritised. Understandably gardening equipment is not always a top priority, so for the Government to acknowledge this is terrific” said Grampians Community Health, Health Promotion worker Rachel Whittaker.

Bronwen Milligan Community Health Nurse at Grampians Community Health said statistics show one in every four Australian children is overweight or obese, so this program is an excellent strategy to support good eating habits.

“Obesity is mainly the result of lifestyle behaviours such as unhealthy eating and low physical activity.” Said Ms Milligan.

According to population health evidence,

  • Northern Grampians and Pyrenees Shire’s rate of Type 2 Diabetes is higher than the state average, and half of the population are not eating enough fruit and vegetables to be meeting the Australian guidelines.
  • In the Northern Grampians, the intake of sweetened drinks was almost double of the Victorian average, while the Pyrenees shire was also more than the state average.
  • Although our community’s fruit and vegetable intake were similar to the state average much of the population is not eating the required amounts; and
  • People in the Ararat Rural City ate takeaway 1-3 times a week more than the Victorian average and drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks at a higher daily average than the overall Victorian population.

Teaching children to grow, harvest, prepare and share own fruit and vegetables, is proven to have a positive impact on the food choices students make. This learning extends beyond the classroom – research shows that engaged, excited students are likely to share their new skills with their family.

Launa Schilling Health Promotion from Grampians Community Health said, “the social connection that the kitchen garden into schools provides is of extreme benefit to young people. This initiative facilitates them to make new friends, learn together and consideration into carrying this into secondary colleges. This scheme is important as this creates a sense of community and belonging.”

Rachael Whittaker added that to make choices even easier for students consistent with what they are learning at school, other places in which young people spend time such as sporting facilities are changing what they offer in the way of food and drink.

“The healthier choice is slowly becoming the easy choice, and the student’s participating in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen garden program will have the knowledge in which to choose what is best for them,” said Ms Whittaker

Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.

Becoming a Youth Engagement

Becoming a Youth Engagement Worker

Youth Engagement

Did you end up in the career that you thought you would? For Eddie Nsanzimana the Youth Engagement worker at Grampians Community Health the advice of his teacher provided all the impetus he need to go down a path he’d never considered.

“I was just one of those kids at school, doing a VET course in year 11 and thinking I was going to be a tradie.” said Eddie.

The teacher must have seen something in Eddie as when they were at a Careers Expo she said, “Eddie, why don’t you go introduce yourself to the youth team at Grampians Community Health’s NEXUS program, and see if they might take you on board for work placement”.

“I went over and met the guys from Nexus and then started doing my work placement” said Eddie.

Nexus, the Grampians Community Health Youth Centre ran several events throughout the year in which Eddie participated. A camp for multicultural youth to create groups to help kids from their varied backgrounds to fit into the local community is what excited Eddie to get involved as a career.

Eddie got together with the young people and started planning the ‘Young G’ group and having meetings at Nexus.

With the support of the team at Nexus they organised an event for Harmony day and had about 60 or 70 kids show up, and it was a huge success. This event was the turning point for Eddie, “that’s what I want to do, my heart is set to do youth stuff” he said.

“Without the support of GCH staff, Jodie and Alois none of this would have been possible. They have support me a lot through the past two years, and they have shaped the person I have become, so I’m grateful that I met them in that cold winter day in June 2014 at the Career Expo, and now I wouldn’t change it for the word”, Eddie proudly said.

Mr Greg Little, Chief Executive Officer of Grampians Community Health, said, “it is a genuine win-win outcome, we are fortunate to have Eddie working with us, and he tells me that he feels lucky and fortunate that GCH was able to give him a chance as a trainee.”

Eddie also said that “it has been amazing, how young people can develop their skills through initiatives such as the Nexus café. From this experience, they now have enough confidence to find work in the hospitality industry”.

Eddies traineeship finished and he is rightly proud of the Diploma of Community Services he received through the Sunraysia Institute. He is now a fully-fledged Youth Engagement Worker with GCH and wants to continue to drive Young G and make it bigger.

Mr Little said often the young people from Horsham accessing Nexus programs don’t play sport and there is also a large mix of young people from multicultural backgrounds that don’t have the money for school camps, and sports. NEXUS programs are able to give this cohort opportunities to go up to the mountains for walks, go to camps, and participate in events where they can learn new skills.

“We are really pleased that Eddie has continued on his path as a youth engagement worker with Grampians Community Health, he has not only shown that anything is possible with his hard work, but is also able to model that to the young people he works with” said Mr Little.

Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.

Drug Drive and Drive Drives will be faced with tough penalties

Drink Drug Drive program

Grampians Community Health are preparing now for an expected increase in drug and drink drive offences following changes by the Victorian Government to bring in tougher Drink and Drug Drive enforcement.

In April, stronger penalties for drink drive in Victoria from 30th April 2018 were announced by the Luke Donnellan, Minister for Roads and Road Safety. The changes announced will impact all drink drivers, drug drivers, including first-time offenders. If a driver records a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 and over they will lose the driver license for at least three months, the interlock will be mandatory for a minimum of six months, and there is a requirement to participate in the behaviours change program.

Grampians Community Health has been delivering many Alcohol and Drug Counselling support services for 30 years making positive changes in our community. The Grampians Community Health Drink Drive Drug Drive program has been under review since October 2017 in anticipation of the changes and the new requirements for accreditation by VicRoads.

 “An average of 70 people contacted Grampians Community Health for support drug drive related in the past two years” said Caleb Lourensz Manager of the Alcohol and Drugs Support Services.

Mr Greg Little, Chief Executive Officer of Grampians Community Health, said that GCH employees are undertaking further training as established by VicRoads, to ensure we are ready to deliver the Drink Drug Drive Behaviour Change programs under the new framework, which will be held in Stawell and Horsham.

To coincide with the new legislation requirements, Grampians Community Health will be re-launching the revised Drink/Drug Drive program In June. It will be a 6 hours program for Victorian drink drivers and a 10-hour intensive drink/drug driver program. The 6-hour program will be conducted over two separate sessions and for first-time will for drink drivers with a blood alcohol reading below 0.15. The session will comprise of cognitive behavioural and motivational techniques, education, motivations for drink driving consequences, risk-taking, impulsivity and decision-making.

The 10-hour program will be conducted over four separate sessions (3×3 hour sessions one week apart). It will be for repeat drink drivers, drug drivers, combined drink/drug, refusal of test, first-time drink drivers blood alcohol reading 0.15 and above, and these participants will also be required to attend Alcohol and Drug counselling.

 “Unfortunately, there are still people who risk lives on the roads through drink and drug driving” Mr. Little said.

 “Until the message is headed in the community that drink or drug driving is not acceptable, the tougher penalties and requirements mean that for now it is expected that there will be even more people undertaking drink and drug drive behavior change courses” added Mr Little.

 Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.

Thank you to all volunteers in our community


During Volunteers Week in May Grampians Community Health are recognising the 60 volunteers who contribute over 5000 hours every year to our community, and who enable the community health service to function.

CEO of Grampians Community Health Greg Little said “to celebrate and thank all volunteers in our community GCH we  partnered with other volunteer agencies during the volunteer celebration for National Volunteers week on the 24th of May 2018 at the Stawell Powerhouse”

“This has been a great chance for Grampians Community Health to thank all our valued volunteers who have assisted us in supporting people in the community over the last 33 years. You have helped many people and given those people a variety of opportunities to feel better and be part of our community. Some volunteers have been with GCH for as long as 20 years”, said Mr Little.

Geraldine Monaghan, a Volunteer Coordinator at GCH, said, “The last training I ran was exciting. I trained 15 volunteers in Horsham to work with the youth groups at our youth centre ‘Nexus’ to assist with Freeza events and other exciting youth fun”.

“This expansion of volunteers to support youth is a great opportunity to be connected with young people”, she went on saying.

Volunteers at Grampians Community Health, helps the community in so many ways. They drive people to appointments via our ‘Community Car’, they run the weekly exercise ‘Active for Life’ programs, they visit isolated older people through our friendly visiting service ‘DO Care’, and people with a NDIS plan who are socially isolated. They also assist aged and disability clients to access community through our ‘Talk Listen and Care’, they support and participate in youth events. The volunteers also help young people from LGBTI community, and provide help to our community in times of emergencies via our “Social Support and Recovery” services.

Gemma Beavis, Rainbow Committee chair at Grampians Community Health said that some of the volunteers offered to be part of our Juno Vesta group and will assist the Coordinator with transport needs, mentoring and activities such as arts & crafts, music, discussions on relevant topics, assist with planning community events and involvements in advocacy projects.

“The Juno Vesta group was established to help young LGBTI+ people in the Grampians feel included, supported in their community and provide the opportunity to make new friends. It is so important to have members of the community involved in these committees, we are grateful to have volunteers helping us,” said Ms Beavis.

Mr Little said that during times of emergencies or natural disaster, the volunteers of GCH and other agencies play a critical role in supporting our community.

“The Grampians Community Health trained network of volunteers assist with staffing relief centres that support people who have been affected by emergencies such as flooding and bushfires.” Said Mr Little

Grampians Community Health is always on the lookout to recruit and welcome additional volunteers into its ongoing program. Grampians Community Health provides ongoing training and support you and several opportunities that suit your skills and interests across Ararat, Stawell and Horsham.

Find more information about volunteering with GCH. Anyone wishing to volunteer at Grampians Community Health can easily do so by calling 5358 7400 and we will provide all information you need to start.