Linking Melton South – A role for community health services in preventative health

Health of individuals and communities is influenced by a range of social determinants that require multifaceted approaches to behaviour change and health promotion. As a key resource in the community, Primary Health Services have a significant role to play in partnership to address these determinants and support positive health outcomes.

Social and economic disadvantage have profound impact on health and wellbeing. Guided by a health equity and human rights approach the Djerriwarrh Health Services’ (DjHS) Health Promotion team developed a 4-year community-based health promotion initiative with a focus on addressing the factors impacting on individual experiences of health where the community lives, works and plays.

Linking Melton South (LMS) is a place-based health promoting community project which was first established in 2013 in response to the emerging challenges for Melton South, including rapid population growth and growing inequity in health outcomes as a result of experiences of disadvantage and social exclusion. The project is driven by community with a focus on ownership and capacity building opportunities that build a sense of community and connection to the space.

Through consultation and engagement with the Melton South community three priority areas were identified:

  1. To improve the physical environment
  2. To create opportunities to connect with others and celebrate Melton South
  3. To strengthen access to services and support

LMS has been able to deliver over 20 community driven projects that address needs through place-making, community events, celebrations and participatory arts since 2013 in partnership with Melton South residents and over 50 local partners. Over 9,100 community members have been directly engaged in mental health promoting initiatives in Melton South including:

  1. Planting Day at Melton South Community Centre
  2. Outdoor movie night
  3. Party in the Park 2014 and 2015
  4. Linkin’ the dog: Graffiti Art Mural
  5. ‘Welcome to Melton South’ mosaic sign
  6. Uniting Church Op Shop art installations
  7. Station Road Mural
  8. Dream Big Festival 2015, 2016 and 2017
  9. Integrated Services Project – LMS Pop Up Services Hub 2015 to 2017
  10. Mosaic garden at Melton South Community Centre (MSCC)
  11. Community Garden at MSCC
  12. At the Platform music event
  13. Mend it, Melton / Community Repair
  14. Little Libraries
  15. Community Stations (A series of place-making and community building projects delivered at Melton Train Station)

Through the application of an Asset-Based-Community-Development approach LMS has worked in partnership to build the capacity of individuals, groups and organisations to identify and address community priorities.

3 key learning points:

  1. Community Health Services provide a valuable resource for community development health promotion projects in partnership with the local community.
  2. Involving community members in consultation, planning, leading and delivering community development projects is key to long term sustainability and ownership.
  3. People have more skills and assets than they may realise, it’s important to provide capacity building and leadership opportunities to allow people to get involved, build relationships and engage effectively with their community.

Join us at the 2018 Liveable Cities Conference, next week in Melbourne over the 16-17 July at the Pullman Melbourne on the Park. Secure your last minute spot here liveablecities.org.au