State Government Victoria Australia Department of Health header
State Government Victoria
Victorian Government Health Information
Health Home
Main A to Z Index | Site Map | About Health  

November 2013

2 people holding posters jpeg University of Melbourne medical students Leander Timothy and Drew Moir, who are based at the Western Clinical School and carried out health checks at Sunshine Harvester Primary School.

Lady with 2 children jpeg

Teacher Sophanny Tham with grade two pupil Hamid Diab and Annryl Nimbtik, who is in grade four.

Western suburbs families reap fruit of the harvest

A program to improve the health and wellbeing of African families has been established at Sunshine Harvester Primary School in Melbourne’s west.

The program follows health screening by medical students from the Western Clinical School, University of Melbourne, in 2012, in which a high percentage of residents in the west demonstrated poor health.

The chronic disease risk factors among the African communities in Melbourne’s west were found to be above the national average with areas of risk including type two diabetes, obesity, poor sleep behaviours, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Led by Western Melbourne Regional Development Australia Committee (WMRDA), key organisations – including the University of Melbourne, Brimbank Council, Western Region Health Centre and the Macedon Ranges and North Western Melbourne Medicare Local – have partnered with Sunshine Harvester Primary School to research the community’s needs.

A culturally-appropriate pilot program, developed through a community engagement and health promotion, will focus on healthy eating, nutrition and exercise.

The model developed from this pilot could be rolled out across other communities in Melbourne’s west.

‘The screening exercise led to the development of this pilot project,’ said Associate Professor Stephen Lew from the Western Clinical School.

‘Acknowledging the importance of early intervention in health and wellbeing, Sunshine Harvester Primary School, with its high population of African children and history of effective community engagement, was selected for the pilot.’

Principal of Sunshine Harvester Primary School Paul Griffin believes the initiative is a positive way to improve health and wellbeing for the school community.

‘A purpose-built kitchen and community garden are the centerpieces of the program that will engage children and their parents.

‘The primary school is a key component of community life for our families and we are pleased to be a part of such a program,’ Mr Griffin said.

A member of the community involved in the initiative donated the kitchen to the school.

A community health and wellbeing day at the school marked the project launch.

The launch included a student art exhibition focusing on vegetable planting and healthy eating.

University of Melbourne medical students performed health screenings at the school on the day.