Through the Alliance, member organisations collaborate on specific projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of our residents. 2020 has seen significant progress in both the number and impact of these projects.
At the last Alliance meeting in 2019, new research presented by Thomas Astell-Burt and Xiaoqi Feng revealed the positive impact of canopy cover on the rate of diabetes, irrespective of socio-economic status.
Blacktown City Council (BCC) revealed its challenge was planting sufficient trees to achieve an impact on canopy cover. This is due to Austroads guidelines which restricts the planting of substantial shade trees along roads, due to the risk of a car hitting them.
A working group was established to address greening within western Sydney.
The group is comprised of WSD Alliance members including:
- WSD Core team
- WSLHD Population Health
- Western Sydney University (WSU)
- University of NSW (UNSW)
- University of Wollongong (UOW)’s Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab (Powerlab)
The first project focused on street trees with WSD commissioning research to detail the evidence supporting the health and environmental benefits of street trees.
The group believes if street trees are planted, the community will benefit by:
- Being fitter by walking more;
- Having improved mental health and being more socially connected;
- Positive environmental impacts on water, heat and wildlife; and
- Increased real estate values due to tree-lined streets.
An application for funding was submitted by BCC to the DPIE’s Greening our City grant scheme. These included:
- Powerlab (UOW)
In December, BCC successfully secured a grant for $310,000 to quantify the risks of planting and not planting large shade trees along residential streets. The results will be used to provide councils with the confidence that tree planting along roads is both responsible and essential for the future health and wellbeing of the community.
Nature Play is a program run by the Royal Botanic Gardens for children to embark in nature-based educational and exercise programs. The working party is made up of organisations interested in all elements of physical activity to work on the strategy for nature play in western Sydney.
Preliminary work will identify opportunities to expand the program from the Sydney CBD to western Sydney.
Health Professional Exercise Referral
This group is made up of USYD, PHN, Population Health and Alliance members and is working on the mapping and referral pathways for health professionals to direct patients to local accredited providers of physical activity programs.
Work is currently progressing on aligning the project with a peak body, extensive local mapping, enrolment of student interns to work on specific projects, and planning for a symposium in 2021.