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Five Victorian winners in 2021 Active Australia Innovation Challenge
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Five Victorian winners in 2021 Active Australia Innovation Challenge

Media release – 3 August 2021

The Heart Foundation has today announced the winners of its 2021 Active Australia Innovation Challenge, with five coming from Victoria.

The challenge invited tertiary institutions, schools, councils and other organisations to submit innovative ideas for getting people in their communities moving. The winners will each get a grant of $10,000 to make their project a reality.

Of the 19 winners across Australia this year, the five Victorian winners are:

Adventure walking club

Organisation: Leopold Community and Learning Centre
The centre will provide weekly guided walks around the local area, including the Bellarine Rail Trail, and once a month walkers will travel to a mystery location. According to the centre, people aged 60 and older tend to be less active than younger Australians, and about 3000 local residents fall within this age group. The grant will go towards the cost of providing guided walks, healthy lunches and minibus hire.  

African drum classes

Organisation: Melton City Council
Melton City Council will use its grant to get people moving to the rhythm of African drums. The classes will be held at the Melton Central Community Centre, where participants will learn djembe drum techniques and rhythm. The free program aims to promote fitness, coordination and fun, improve mental wellbeing and bring people together. The project targets people aged between 45–70 years. According to the council, one in three men and one in four women in this age group who live in the City of Melton is overweight or obese.

Inclusive dance for children with a disability

Organisation: Spectrum at the Barre
This project aims to improve the health and fitness of children with disabilities through dance in the City of Whittlesea. It involves two initiatives. The first will provide weekly dance classes to children with a disability, allowing them to participate and settle into the studio at their own pace before integrating into a mainstream dance class. The second will provide disability awareness and inclusive training to three local dance schools that will be delivered and supported by allied health professionals.

Aboriginal women’s & girls health challenge

Organisation: Hands on Health Australia
Hands on Health Australia will develop and run an exercise and health program in Thornbury. The program, which will be open to Indigenous girls and women in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, will be developed with Aboriginal elders and organisations, and RMIT University’s exercise and sport science department. According to Hands on Health Australia, in 2012 only 23.3 per cent of indigenous women played sport, walked for fitness or leisure, or were physically active in the previous 12 months, compared to around 70 per cent of non-indigenous women.

Lawn bowling for autism

Organisation: Different Journeys Associated
Different Journeys, Chirnside Park Bowling Club, Chirnside Park Country Club and Interchange Outer East are combining to host lawn bowls events for people with autism and their families. The aim is to improve fitness, coordination and confidence among the target group, especially those people who have impaired motor skills, and to support their mental wellbeing and opportunities to engage socially.

The Heart Foundation received 619 entries in this year’s challenge. This is double the number of 2020 entries and almost five times the number submitted for the first challenge in 2018.

“The initiative has been growing in popularity year-on-year, but even we were surprised by the huge number of entries received for this year’s challenge,” said Heart Foundation Victorian Heart Health Manager, Adam Stormont.

“The Heart Foundation could not be more pleased by the increased participation, given around two-thirds of people in Victoria are not active enough for good heart health. This is a real concern, because being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease, our state’s single leading cause of death.

“One reason for the spike in entries could be that the pandemic has sparked interest in physical activity at a grass-roots level. Being stuck at home for long periods is making everyone appreciate their communities more and think creatively about ways to stay healthy and active.

“Over the four years we’ve been running this challenge, the Heart Foundation has awarded grants to 45 organisations, including 11 in Victoria. A big congratulations to all this year’s winners. We look forward to working closely with you to bring your projects to life.”

The Active Australia Innovation Challenge is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

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