March 2023

Western District Health Service (GenR8change)

Health services Implementing healthy changes Promoting healthy eating
Teacher with student in a classroom


Taking a whole-of-community approach to making healthy choices the easy choices for residents.

The Western District Health Service has provided a fantastic example of how the community can rally together to make a change.


View video transcript

[Text displayed on screen] Ebony Jenkins, Western District Health Service, Southern Grampains Glenelg Primary Care Partnership, Community Development Officer.  

[Ebony Jenkins, Western District Health Service, Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership, Community Development Officer] Generate Change is a social movement.  

It’s owned by our Southern Grampians community, and it really begun on the back of the data that we got from Deakin University, our local weights and measures that really identified obesity as quite a problem.  

In our local area, we had opt out consents for students to participate, and we measured over 1900 students, and the data was really surprising.  

[Clinton Thomas, Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership, Health Promotion] We got to face it. We’re living in an obesogenic society where the unhealthy choice is the easier choice. 

And that sort of leads to why the community has rallied together and decided to try and turn that around to see if we can make the healthy choice, the easy choice for our kids.  

So that, well, listen, it might be a national problem, but at the local level, we’re wanting to do something about it.  

And so what we’re seeing now is tremendous examples of change that hasn’t happened anywhere else in the country.  

[Rohan Fitzgerald, Chief Executive, Generate Change Western District Health Service] has assisted our organization to focus our attention and our energies on what’s important, and that’s talking about youth obesity specifically.  

More generally looking at how we can support our community to reduce obesity levels for everybody. Western District Health Service has removed from sale all soft drinks, all sports drinks, and all fruit juice.  

From what I understand, we were the first public health service in Australia to make the change to remove sugary drinks from sale from our organization. The way we’re phrasing it is we’re defying gravity.  

And the reason that we’re saying its defying gravity is because we’re changing the behaviour from over 200 years of sales of sugary drinks to not having the sale of sugary drinks within our community. And that’s a big transformational change. It’s terrific to be taking some leadership in relationship to improving the health and wellbeing of our community.  

From my perspective, we have a social responsibility to our community.  

We want them to be healthy. That’s part of our vision for our organization is to create a healthy.  

Community, and this goes some way to achieve that. The reaction has been incredibly positive.  

I’m calling on all health services across Victoria to make this positive step to remove sugary drinks. Let’s see if we can do it. 

[Text displayed on screen] Making the healthy choice, the easy choice.  

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Deakin University
Posted 15/03/23
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