Alliance Meetings

The Alliance meets bi-annually to network, collaborate, report on progress and to identify opportunities.

Alliance Meetings in 2019 were face-to-face: 

Leaders Alliance Meeting: ‘Strengthening Partnerships to Meet the Challenge’ – 3 April, 2019, Park Royal Hotel Parramatta 

The first Alliance meeting for 2019 attracted 102 attendees, including leaders from the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) and South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD), who were presented with an overview of the WSD 2019 Plan and invited to contribute to WSD initiatives and interventions proposed for the year. Groups at the meeting brainstormed collaborative opportunities, including the distribution of the WSD Healthy Living Options book of exercise programs and facilities in Western Sydney (see page 16 for more information). Several members also provided short presentations on ‘What we do’ and concluded with a request for partners to assist in a variety of ways including program evaluation, funding or further information. In all cases, requests for assistance were met by other Alliance members.

Leaders Alliance Meeting: ‘Seeing the Forest & The Trees’ – 7 November, 2019 Rydges Norwest

The second Leaders Alliance meeting for 2019 highlighted the impact of urban greening and canopy cover on the incidence of diabetes and general health, reflecting the WSD goal of ‘Building Healthy Environment’ and two of the NSW Premier’s Priorities.

The meeting was attended by 110 Alliance members and provided an opportunity for WSD to engage new members from sectors including research, Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), Department of Planning, industry and Environment (DPIE), councils, Premier’s Implementation Unit and horticulture from across Greater Western Sydney and the Sydney Basin. Attendees heard new research in relation to tree canopy and diabetes (see right), along with the challenges of planting shade trees within the urban environment.

The Deputy Secretary for DPIE, Alex O’Mara, closed the meeting with a presentation on the Premier’s Priorities around urban greening. Following the meeting, the DPIE agreed to join WSD as a lead organisation on the EMT to help beat diabetes in Western Sydney. Representatives from DPIE will also participate in WSD prevention working groups in 2020, starting with the ‘Building Healthy Environment’ group, to discuss and support the implementation of the NSW Premier’s urban greening goals.

But during 2020, meetings were conducted virtually.

COVID-19’s physical restrictions encouraged members to connect in a new way – online – which also enabled multiple attendees from the same organisation to attend. 

This year the focus was on maintaining the existing Alliance network and providing support to members during a time when many organisations underwent considerable alteration to their internal structure, personnel and business operations.

WSD successfully connected with new staff members to maintain the ongoing relationship with existing Alliance member organisations, as well as welcome a number of new member organisations.

Neighbouring LHDs remained with the Alliance along with the ongoing support of local councils; evidence the reach of the Alliance is continuing to increase in geography and influence. 

The 2020 Alliance Meetings featured: 

Leaders’ Alliance meeting: ‘Moments of healthy living during COVID-19 isolation. Can we make them stick?’ – Webinar, June 24, 2020 

This was the first Alliance meeting held virtually, with more than 100 organisations attending. The focus was to acknowledge the changes that COVID-19 has elicited in the health behaviour of the community and to explore ways the positive changes in eating, cooking, exercise and travel could be maintained during – and post- pandemic. Key speakers included Dr Wendy O’Brien who joined the meeting from NZ to describe the results of an international research project which was measuring the changes in exercise behaviour and linking them with previous exercise patterns.
Alex Gyani, Head of Research, Behavioural Insights, discussed the theory and positive examples of how understanding behaviour can be used to obtain improved responses to members’ messaging. The meeting also included discussion groups led by members dedicated to food, physical activity, schools and greening. These groups aim to provide participants with the networking opportunities which are a trademark of the Alliance.
Feedback was provided by the Group Leaders, with one group, Physical Activity, setting up three working groups dedicated to: Nature Play; Health Professional Referral of Physical Activity; and Dancing.

Leaders Alliance meeting: ‘Growing well, Eating well’ – Webinar, November 4, 2020

This event brought together experts in a number of food-related fields to describe and discuss what we can do now to enable food security into the future. This related strongly with one of the key goals of the Alliance which is to ensure our residents have access to fresh food and the skills to create healthy meals.
The virtual meeting was facilitated by Ian Corless and attended by 94 registrants from 80 participant organisations.A range of speakers – Dana Cordell (UTS), Serena Lee (consultant), Adam Loftus (Foodbank), Phil Pettitt (Royal Botanic Gardens), Grant Brinkworth (CSIRO), Michelle Celander (WW), and Elisha West (OzHarvest) discussed their work and ideas on how Alliance members could become engaged or partner with their programs. Discussions are now underway amongst Alliance members who are exploring at least seven new collaborative opportunities in the growing and food preparation areas. 

Western Sydney TAFE talk

Hosted by Anne Goonitilleke, Head of Skills Team, Health, Wellbeing and Community Services, TAFE, WSD presented a talk to 100 teachers from Western Sydney TAFE regarding diabetes and the work of WSD. Prof Glen Maberly and Janine Dawson informed the teachers of the diabetes epidemic in western Sydney, WSD’s work in prevention through the WSD Alliance, and projects being undertaken in collaboration with partners.
They were also provided with an update on telehealth and new ways of monitoring, managing and educating diabetes patients in hospital, through GPs, and in the community.

Blinded by Sugar Webinar – Health Professional Webinar – August 4, 2020

This was hosted for Alliance members and health professionals to hear from 2020 Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, regarding the impact diet has on our health. Hosted by CE of Diabetes NSW, ACT and QLD, Sturt Eastwood, Dr Muecke’s presentation focused on the inclusion of sugar in processed foods and drinks.
As an ophthalmologist, he was concerned about the impact of diabetic retinopathy in his surgery and dedicated his year in office to increase awareness of the impact diet and diabetes has on health. This webinar was very well-received, with up to 170 participants and WSD incorporated it into the Healthy Lifestyle session of the Masterclass 2020 Series.

Blinded by Sugar Webinar – Consumer Webinar – December 8, 2020

Due to the positive amount of feedback, an additional webinar was held for the community in December with support from both Parramatta and Blacktown councils and community groups.
MC’d by Janine Dawson, heavy community promotion resulted in the largest response received from any WSD consumer forum with more than 300 participants registered. It was also the first event WSD hosted simultaneously on both Zoom and Facebook.