The official launch of the HealthWISE Strategic Plan 2023-2027 took place at HealthWISE Ipswich on Tuesday 21 February, 2023. Queensland-based HealthWISE Board director Ann Houston introduced the plan:
“HealthWISE was formed in 2015 and is a not for profit charity working across the New England North West region of NSW and Southern Queensland. Our vision is to create healthier communities across the large region that we service.
We currently have a workforce of 130 staff. There is a strong lived experience group within the team and close to 30% are Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander. I think this is the part of HealthWISE that makes it such an extraordinary organisation; that its people reflect the people who utilise our services.
Today it gives me great pleasure to launch the organisation’s new 5 year strategic plan, here in Ipswich QLD. This plan is the result of 2 years of intensive work, culminating in the collective input from many people within and outside the organisation. The plan seeks to move the organisation to have more of a social impact through strengthening community capacity for improved health and wellbeing, investing in preventative health, and focusing on vulnerable groups and through positive networks and partnerships.
HealthWISE Board Chair, Lia Mahony, introduces the 2023-2027 Strategic Plan.
We are committed to our 3 strategic priorities:
- To strengthen community capacity for improved health and wellbeing –through individual skills and care, and through leading research into best practice for primary health in regional communities.
- To prepare vulnerable people to improve their health and resilience.
- To grow the impact of our services and programs to help more people be healthy through safe, welcoming and accessible services, and advocacy.
The Board has supported the commencement of these priorities through investment in the development of a number of positions, including a preventative health officer and community liaison officers.
We are interested in the social determinants of health – what determines and affects an individual’s ability to lead a healthy life. The evidence shows that education is critical for success; and we work to ensure children are ready to engage with and succeed at school.
In recognition that good health and adequate food security starts early in life, the HealthWISE annual gift fund has recently granted approximately $60,000 to over 20 childcare centres across NSW and QLD – including Bethany Kindergarten, Raceview and Kaleidoscope Kids in Booval – to create kitchen gardens.
This news has been received with great excitement from children and staff who will now be able to grow their own vegetables, fruit and herbs at kindy. As well as funding the purchase of equipment and supplies, these kindies will also have access to a two year membership to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program for Early Childhood to support them on their kitchen garden journey. We are working alongside gift fund recipients to complement this with Aboriginal cultural learning about Indigenous plants and food in the future.
The HealthWISE Preventative Health Officer, Kritika Jain, is based in the Ipswich office and is making headway on the Board’s plans to positively influence the health of our communities early, and to have a measurable social impact.
Marlena Bishop, also working from this office as our community engagement officer, is a go-to person for local knowledge and has extensive experience and links within primary health care locally.
HealthWISE dietitians provide a range of services Ipswich and Toowoomba area. Services are delivered to clients through partnerships with Headspace and home care nursing providers, but are available to anyone in the community.
Charlotte Wright is co-located with 7 Springs Medical Practice in Toowoomba, supporting general practice. Throughout 2022, she partnered with Kulila Kindy to provide nutrition advice and education to young children, their families and early educators.
HealthWISE dietitians Charlotte Wright and Zoe Martin have an interest in the field of eating disorders and are building a reputation within this speciality. They are working closely with the Recover, Adapt, Connect project team to provide opportunities in communities affected by bushfire to access nutrition education and experiences within their communities and also offer individual consultation to clients free of charge through this program. The program is supporting people and communities to develop psychological preparedness for natural disasters, following on from the Black Summer bushfires. This program is supported by funding from the federal government.
Sounds good to me is an online program supporting early childhood educators to assist children to develop their early literacy skills. Developed by HealthWISE speech pathologists, this was launched in 2020.
Another important piece in the Strategic Plan is the implementation of our organisation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Inclusion Framework, which is also the result of many months of work by a dedicated group of staff members, supported by the Board of Directors and Executive. The Framework lays out the actions and systems that will be embedded into HealthWISE policy and activities, in a commitment to the creation of an environment where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe, valued and respected and have opportunities to develop their capabilities and progress their careers.
The plan includes three focus areas:
- Cultural Capability
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment
- Community Engagement
Much work has already been undertaken, but there is more to do as we strive to embed inclusivity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people into everything we do”.