Kyabram Free Press

Alarming health findings

- By Rohan Aldous

Sixty-nine per cent of residents in the Shire of Campaspe are overweight or obese according to a health check delivered in the annual report at Wednesday evening’s council meeting.

It was one of two startling figures in the ‘Our Health Status’ component of the council’s Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan.

The figures took into account the 38,358 residents of the council area, the biggest representa­tion being 50to 84-year-olds (15,587 people).

The other alarming statistic was that 61 per cent of residents reportedly drank alcohol at a potentiall­y dangerous level at least once for the year.

Both the amount of overweight residents in the shire and the intake of alcohol levels were well above the state average.

The Victorian average for obese or overweight people is 49.7 per cent and statewide only 41.8 per cent of people drank alcohol at a potentiall­y dangerous level at least once in 2020-21.

Balancing out the negatives are the facts Campaspe residents eat more than double the average amount of vegetables and more fruit than the state average.

There are also proportion­ally fewer smokers in the Campaspe region compared with Victoria as a whole.

In summarisin­g the health status of the Campaspe community, an executive report noted there remained high levels of socio-economic disadvanta­ge in multiple locations.

The report said efforts were required to further strengthen relationsh­ips with Traditiona­l Owners, based on respect for their living culture and their unique role in the life of this region.

Campaspe reported higher rates of violence than state or regional averages, both in the general community and also within families.

The mental health of young people and limited access to mental health services, along with the absence of after-hour crisis services, were also noted in the report.

Violence and mental health problems were also well above the state averages.

The report revealed Campaspe had a much higher than average number of days absent from school and students were much more likely to report having been bullied in Years 7 to 9.

A sobering statistic was the likelihood of young Campaspe people being more likely to be victims of alcohol-related assaults and alcohol-related family violence incidents.

The assessment was made by comparing the Campaspe region to regional Victorian averages and statewide results.

Cr Paul Jarman said it was a document that everyone in the community should read.

“It makes for an interestin­g, and depressing, read — depending on which section you read,” he said.

“It shows where our minority groups need support, whether that be youth, the elderly or our First Nations people.

“Unfortunat­ely some of the KPIS that we aspire to haven’t moved a lot.

“It doesn’t mean we should give up the fight, so I hope we can make a difference in the coming three or four years.”

Cr Rob Amos said residents had told council they wanted an active and healthy lifestyle, they wanted to be socially connected and they wanted access to mental health.

“A lot of these aspiration­s the council has active control over,” he said.

“We have to ensure that this plan drives our actions over the next four years so we can meet what the community wants us to do.“

Cr Leanne Pentreath said the report was missing the mark on a couple of points.

“How will people react after being locked down for so long?” she said.

Cr Pentreath said COVID-19 had impacted people in ways the council could never understand and there would be changes of which council was not aware.

“I think this is a good start, but going into the future I believe the climate change and the environmen­t will be even more important,” she said.

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