Have a Healthy Easter – More than chocolate at Easter in the Grampians

Enjoy the chocolate but remember the carrot

Usually during festive times we are told to take it easy and not indulge too much; not too much chocolate and if over 18 limit your alcohol intake. The usual tips of watch your meal size, have regular snacks, enjoy a good breakfast , fill up on vegies, move more and exercise are useful but often fail to motivate change – especially when chocolate tastes so good. Living in the Grampians Wimmera we can take this health advice and eat the odd Easter egg free of guilt as there is plenty to keep local residents and visitors active and well-nourished over the Easter holiday period.

“Being active during times of celebrations is more than going to the gym, running 10 kilometre, climbing Mount William or being part of formal sport like football or netball” said Rachel Whittaker. She said its important to find something that is social and fun. Examples of activities and events available over the holiday period include; Tai Chi sessions, Parks Victoria Junior Ranger program, Barefoot Bowls, Petanque, cross country runs, ice skating and dancing. Go to your Local Government webpage for more ideas.

Although tasty there is more to offer than hot cross buns and chocolate says Rachel Whittaker – Health Promotion at GCH. There’s plenty of seasonal fruit and veg on offer which can be found at local farm gates, markets, cafes and community gardens around the Grampians Wimmera Region. Seasonal produce to look out for includes zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, capsicums, apples, peaches, nashis, pears and plums.

Set up by the Grampians Food Alliance ‘Share Your Spare’ provides another opportunity for enjoying seasonal fresh produce. Locals who grow their own produce and have surplus are encouraged to share it at the Ararat and Stawell Libraries and the Bendigo Bank in Ararat at the ‘Share Your Spare’ sites. Visitors and residents alike are encouraged to take what’s on offer. Just look out for the ‘Share Your Spare’ wheelbarrows.

So it is possible to have your chocolate and eat it to; it’s just a matter of knowing what else is on offer and where fresh local carrots can be purchased.

For some useful tips and hints on festive eating and Easter presents have a look at

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

Active April

Are you ready for Active April?

We are thrilled at the number and variety of ways to participate. Rachel Whittaker, Health Promotion at Grampians Community Health is excited about this campaign and invites you to get involved.

Grampians Community Health and Stawell Regional Health have been working closely with the Northern Grampians Shire Council, East Wimmera Health Service, Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership, Wimmera Regional Sports Assembly and Parks Victoria to help community members in our regions get active in April.

Northern Grampians Shire Gets Active in April is a campaign across the region that provides a diverse and exciting range of opportunities to encourage people to participate and be more active in their own community.

Activities include tai chi, bush and trail walks, come and try bowls, colour run, fun runs, petanque, bike riding scavenger hunt bare foot bowls, dancing and much more.

“Northern Grampians Shire, Grampians Community Health and Stawell Regional Health work together to plan priority health promotion areas. Active Living is one of the three priority areas to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in our area for the next four years,” Ms Toomey said.

“Increasing your activity doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive, simply playing with your children in the park, taking the dog for a walk, standing more, walking to work or school, gardening or dancing around the house are all great.”

There are great activities in the Grampians Wimmera, make sure to check your local area for activities you can join in to get active.


Follow the Rainbow – LGBTI

Young Leaders follow the ‘Rainbow’ to making Stawell a safer place for all – LGBTI

Sexuality and Gender Diversity - LGBTI


Juno Vesta, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTIQA+) Youth led group, is working towards making Stawell a safer community for LGBTIQA+ people the ‘Rainbow Project’.

With the support of Grampians Community Health, the Northern Grampians Shire Council and the Central Grampians LLEN the group approached local Stawell Businesses to display a small rainbow flag in their windows, symbolising a safe place for LGBTI people to shop, eat and relax.

The members stated the project made them feel at home and accepted. A Juno Vesta member stated “some businesses were quite enthusiastic about the project which made me feel very happy.”

Juno Vesta believes the Rainbow Project has been a great conversation starter for the community and the involvement with the Northern Grampians Shire Council was crucial. The Northern Grampians Shire Council supported Juno Vesta with the Rainbow Project and encouraged businesses to be involved by placing their logo on the support letter which showed their commitment to making Stawell a safe community.

Juno Vesta would like to implement this project in other towns including Ararat in the near future. Juno Vesta is encouraging businesses and community groups to join in with the Rainbow project and place a rainbow flag on their window front.

The Rainbow Project will make other LGBTIQA+ people feel safer in the community. New reports suggest that nearly 30% of young people are now identifying as LGBTIQA+. Young people aged 16 to 24 years are most likely to hide their sexuality or gender identity. Sixty-one percent reported they had experienced verbal homophobic abuse, eighteen percent reported physical homophobic abuse, and nine percent told of encountering other types of homophobia.

“We understand there is a lot more work that needs to be done, but to see a youth led project making such a difference is incredible,” said Gemma Beavis, chair of the Rainbow committee at Grampians Community Health.

Juno Vesta is supported by Grampians Community Health and the Central Grampians LLEN. If you are aged between 12 and 25 and are interested in joining Juno Vesta, please contact Gemma on 52587400. The Stawell group meets every Monday afternoon at the Grampians Community Health building, 8-22 Patrick Street, from 4pm.

For more information visit our Sexuality and Gender Diversity information page.

Women’s Human Rights Defenders Day

Celebrate Family Violence Workers on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

Grampians Community Health is calling on all people and organisations in the community to join with them in recognising the role of female family violence workers on the 29th of November, the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day.

Grampians Community Health CEO, Mr Greg Little, said that too frequently the women who worked in supporting victims of family violence are either not recognised for the important function they provide, or vilified by perpetrators or uninformed people as the bad guys.

“The Homelessness and Family Violence team at Grampians Community Health is an incredibly dedicated and proud group who are there for the people in our community who are impacted by family violence.  This however also creates a heavy burden on them as they are also part of the community” said Mr Little.

“The women in our team still need to be part of society, they need to relax, spend time with their families, shop, go out like everyone else, but this can sometimes be daunting when they know the person walking towards them or serving them in a shop may also be a perpetrator of family violence” Mr Little added.

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, held annually on November 29th is an international campaign launched in 2004 for the recognition and protection of women human rights defenders who are advocating for the realisation of all human rights for all people. Because of who they are and the nature of their work, women human rights defenders face significant violations and abuses.

In Victoria, family violence is well recognised for the impact it has on families in our community, and 75% of family violence is perpetrated by men towards women.  Grampians Community Health believes that November 29th, the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, is a worthy day for recognition in Victoria, and have today released a YouTube clip highlighting the challenges faced by family violence workers [https://youtu.be/5AqqOMTHlvM]

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

Mr Little said “Attracting and retaining staff to work in the field of family violence in rural Victoria is difficult when they don’t always feel valued in the community.”

“Grampians Community Health is only one organisation, hopefully other domestic violence services, community organisations, government and the communities we serve will join us on the 29th of November in the years to come in celebrating the role family violence workers provide” said Mr Little.


If you would like more information about Family Violence Support please call us on 03 5358 7400

Being a Foster Carer

It is National Carers Week; we celebrate and thank all Carers. 

A Proud Mum of Foster Kids!

Being a Foster Carer has been one of my most rewarding achievements. Seeing a child walk in to your home scared and insecure is heart breaking. Seeing a child walk out of your home with a smile on their face ready to face the world – that is what I call beauty!

Grampians Community Health is excited to hear about the continuing commitment from the state government to support some of our most vulnerable young people who live in out of home care. Numbers of young people requiring, short, medium, long term and even permanent care are increasing therefore we need more carers to share in this much needed commitment.

GCH believes in and supports equality for all, in particular for those that often have little or no voice and face a range of challenges. For young people in out of home care and who live in rural and remote areas, the challenges can be even more significant. Having been part of this great community for over 30 years, GCH is aware of the challenges that living in rural and remote areas can be as well as the great opportunities that exist in our region.  GCH offers a range of supports to people who might already be or thinking of fostering. We provide a range of supports to Carers, access to counselling, links to social opportunities, mental health support, education connections and an intake and referral system to meet everyone’s needs.

In our local community, the out of home care agency that provides a range of foster care options is Uniting Care. GCH values the amazing work that Uniting undertake in this space and we are always happy to provide complimentary services to support carers, young people and extended family and friends. GCH recognises that being a foster carer can be a challenging and rewarding opportunity. The commitment from the state government to provide extra support to carers is welcome and acknowledges the different world we now live in and the make-up of our community is diverse and always changing, therefore policy needs to reflect that change.

Much more work is needed and we need to build on the recent exiting range of commitments to strengthen and reform the out of home care sector. We encourage anyone who might be thinking of becoming a carer to find out more information or to come in and have a chat to one of the many friendly and dedicated staff members at GCH.

In Victoria, it is estimated that nearly 10,000 children currently live in out of home care. About 40% are in foster care, 48% in relative/kinship care and the rest in other forms of home based care. In Australia over 45,000 children live in out of home care and this number continues to rise.

About 40% of those in out of home care have been in that system for 5 years or more. As a community, we have a responsibility to provide care for our most vulnerable and the need for Carers has never been greater. We encourage people, who might have thought about fostering, to take that first step and to find out more.

As a local carer recently said “I was unsure about my ability to be a carer and the extra demands that would come along with it, however after over 15 years of being a foster carer I wouldn’t change a thing. The experience has been so rewarding and the kids in my care have provided me with memories and experiences I will cherish forever” they also went on to say “I encourage anyone who might be thinking of being a foster carer to contact your local agency and to find out more”.

For information on Grampians Community Health Services call 53587400 or drop into our offices in Stawell, Horsham, Ararat, Warracknabeal or St Annaud.

Ready for the NDIS great wave of change

Grampians Community Health is registered NDIS provider

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will roll out in the Western District of Victoria on the 1st of October 2017, creating opportunities for people with a disability and also Grampians Community Health.

The NDIS rollout will occur in the local government areas of Hindmarsh, Horsham, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack. These changes to funding and the need to navigate unchartered waters has created many challenges to the way services traditionally have been provided for not for profit organisations such as Grampians Community Health.

The NDIS is about Choice and Control in delivering funds directly to the participant to choose the services they want from NDIS providers, where once, the funding went directly to the organisation to put in place services for people to access.

Grampians Community Health (GCH) Chief Executive Officer Mr Greg Little said his organisation is committed to providing services through the NDIS without compromising on the GCH history of quality care and support to the community. This has meant that GCH has been working hard toward adapting service delivery to meet the needs of the community and the types of areas people are asking for in their NDIS plans.

Mr Little said “There has been significant planning around how GCH can re-align with the new funding arrangements. Ongoing training and education to staff, and recruitment to meet the needs for both our existing and new participants is a priority in preparedness for the rollout to our local communities on the 1st of October”.

Mr Little said that GCH is a registered NDIS provider. GCH has already been providing services to NDIS participants in the Ararat Rural City Council area since January 2017 and 30 NDIS participants are receiving services in accordance to their plans and goals stated by the participants themselves, and this has helped GCH remodel service delivery to be flexible to people’s needs.

“To date, in navigating the new NDIS requirements with both existing transitioning participants into providing NDIS services, and new participants to GCH, we have been on a huge learning curve around the NDIS Guidelines and identifying solutions to manage the many challenges.” said Mr Little

To assist and guide people through the NDIS towards eligibility and the plan, GCH are offering free individual information sessions in our Stawell office. This can be tailored to a person’s needs such as providing information on how to access the NDIS, or, advice if they have a plan already on how to proceed in purchasing services – which doesn’t necessarily need to be from GCH .

Mr Little said that Grampians Community Health are committed to provide a quality, flexible and individualised service to all participants and will continue to re-align our organisations with the NDIS requirements where possible. This includes the introduction of plan management to assist in setting up your services and we are already providing support coordination. Other areas GCH is implementing under the NDIS are social and recreational activities, skill development and group activities.

“The NDIS focus is all about Choice and Control in what types of supports and services you want and when you want them. It’s about a whole of life approach and living the life you want. This is consistent with Grampians Community Health’s philosophy embedded in every service we provide in our community” said Mr Little.

Some of Grampians Community Health’s participants are continuing with their existing services while others are already looking at broader options available that previously were not considered. For example, one person has chosen to travel to Ballarat in the evening to participate in sport, another has chosen to attend the car races in various venues on a Saturday, and another person is cooking for the first time and attending a live show in the city.

Grampians Community Health has been operating in the Stawell area for over 32 years, and also has offices in Ararat, Horsham, St Arnaud and Warracknabeal with our mission statement to provide for a vibrant and healthy community.

For more information read our NDIS services information.



Measles – what you need to know

The Department of Health and Human Services confirms that there have been 11 confirmed cases of Measles in Melbourne since early September, with 8 of the 11 cases connected through a workplace in Collins Street, Docklands. Two other people affected passed through Melbourne’s international terminal on flights to and from Asia.

Measles is a contagious viral illness that causes a skin rash and fever. Serious and sometimes fatal complications include pneumonia and encephalitis (brain inflammation). Worldwide, measles is the fifth highest cause of illness and death in children.

Measles is transmitted by airborne droplets and direct contact with discharges from respiratory mucous membranes of infected persons and less commonly by articles freshly soiled with nose and throat secretions. It persist in the environment for 30min, including hard surfaces like door handles.

Measles is highly infectious through airborne transmission and has an incubation period of up to 18 days, from exposure to onset of rash.

People at risk include children or adults born during or since 1966 who do not have documented evidence of receiving two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, or documented evidence of laboratory-confirmed measles immunity are considered to be susceptible to measles.

People who are immunocompromised are also at risk.

The best way to prevent infection is to ensure that you and your loved ones are up to date you’re your immunisations. Please check you immunisation records and see your GP if you are in doubt.

What to do if you have been exposed to someone with Measles:

If you’ve been in contact with someone with measles and you are not immune to measles (have not been immunised or have not had a measles infection), there are different treatment options. Speak with your doctor about your options.

Depending on your situation, these may include: Contact in the last 72 hours – have a measles immunisation immediately.

Contact in the last three to seven days – immunoglobulin can be given for interim protection. This is known as passive immunisation. Measles vaccination, or active immunisation, should be given later to prevent further risk of infection, but not until five months after you received the immunoglobulin. Normal human immunoglobulin is given as an injection.

For further information on measles signs and symptoms please refer to the Better Health Channel https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/measles

Source: The Victorian Department of Health and Better Health Channel

A-Z of interacting with people with disability

A-Z of interacting with people with disability helpful hints

How to act toward people with disability sometimes causes confusion, especially when it is unfamiliar

Julie-Anne B from Grampians Community Health gives some tips on how to act toward people with disability.
Many of us may not be aware of the language people with a disability consider appropriate.

The A-Z of interacting with people with disability offers helpful hints to put everyone at ease.
For example, “people with a disability”, or “person with a disability” are preferable to “the disabled”.

The vital reality is that we are all people first.

A-Z of interacting with people with disability

Funding support for men’s behaviour change program

Grampians Community Health is well established in delivering specialist family violence services to the Grampians and Wimmera

Grampians Community Health (GCH) has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Families and Children the Hon. Jenny Mikakos that will enable GCH to continue to deliver Men’s behavioural change programs in the Wimmera and Grampians.

In announcing the funding Minister Mikakos said “We know the devastating impact that men who commit family violence has on their own families, as well as the wider community – this is about stamping out this behaviour.”

Grampians Community Health has been delivering the Men’s behaviour change program since 2006 and has supported many men to address their behaviours towards partners, children and family members.

Mr Greg Little, Chief Executive Officer of Grampians Community Health said that the funding announced by the Victorian Government was welcomed by Grampians Community Health who will continue running the Men’s behaviour change group programs in Horsham and Stawell until at least June 2019.

“Over the past year, Grampians Community Health assessed around 130 men who completed the program, supporting them to address their behaviours towards partners, children and family members. This number has grown over time with a greater awareness by the courts of our men’s behaviour change program” Mr. Little said.

Mr. Little said that the strength of the Men’s behaviour change program was its capacity to enable men to understand that they are accountable for the long term effects and repercussions of their behaviour on their families, and that their behaviour is related to power and control.

The funding supports a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Family Violence that more men’s behavioural change programs be made available to meet the demands of the community and of court orders. The Andrew’s Labor Government is working to end family violence through its $1.9 billion package of measures in the Victorian Budget 2017/18. This record investment includes $49.4 million over four years for the Changing Perpetrator Behaviour initiative.

Funding will also go to establishing 17 support and safety hubs across the state, delivering after-hours crisis support, counselling and therapy for victims of family violence, and developing a 10-year plan.

Grampians Community Health is well established in delivering specialist family violence services to the Grampians and Wimmera. The Homelessness and Family violence team has for many years supported women and children who are affected by family violence and address their individual support needs.

Family violence support workers offer court support, safety planning and case management to ensure women and their children are supported. Grampians Community Health has a specialist family violence counsellor who is available for women to address the trauma experienced by family violence.

Mr. Little said the implementation of the safety hubs is being piloted in other areas and how the hubs will look in the Wimmera is unsure at this stage. Our communities can be assured however that when they need support the specialist family violence services provided by Grampians Community Health will provide services that aim for safety and social inclusion for all people.

People can access the Homelessness and Family violence programs at Grampians Community Health by calling 03 5358 7400 or calling into the GCH building at 24 David Street Horsham or the Stawell Health and Community Centre.

 Read more here: Funding support for Grampians Community Health men’s behaviour change program– The Wimmera Mail Times 24th August

Vale Fiona Richardson MP

Grampians Community Health is saddened after learning of the death yesterday of the Hon. Fiona Richardson MP.

Fiona Richardson was the Minister for Women and Family Violence in the current Victorian Labor Government and was a strong advocate of the services that Grampians Community Health (GCH) provided to people in our community.

Grampians Community Health Manager of Direct Care Programs Ms Kath Heading said that GCH were privileged to have hosted Fiona Richardson when she visited Grampians Community Health in August 2016 to tour our community health services in Stawell and to meet with the Homelessness and Family Violence Team.

“Her compassion and her commitment to addressing family violence and gender inequality across the Wimmera and Grampians regions was strongly evident. Grampians Community Health offers our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and colleagues” said Ms Heading.