GenHealth Hamilton is a local clinic boasting a super team offering a range of allied health services. Whilst for the most of the COVID-19 pandemic the clinic has been able to remain open, there were 6 weeks whilst in stage 3 restrictions where the clinic shut its doors and offered only telehealth consultations. The usually very cohesive staff cohort shuddered at the thought of not having the opportunity to bond as much so quickly enacted a plan, each staff member was charged with running a weekly event or activity. Those assigned with week 1 set a challenge for the duration of the ‘lockdown’, a seedling challenge! Each staff member was given a seedling and encouraged to grow and nurture it as best they could within the 6 weeks to emerge the covid seedling competition winner.                  The GenHealth team have invited some guest judges to choose a winner, to be announced in the next week! Judges will consider each plants height, width, ‘bushiness’, healthiness (colour) and if any fruit have grown. We look forward to learning who the winner will be! The team have enjoyed the challenge and for some it has prompted them to begin growing vegetables or different types of seedlings than they have grown in the past. There’s plenty of growing and producing for the seedlings of the competition yet too! What a great way this is to promote fresh food, learn the in’s and outs of growing and keep a workplace connected through some healthy competition! What has your workplace done to ensure staff stay connected and healthy during COVID-19? We’d love to know about any other workplace challenges out there! Get in touch with Ebony at [email protected] to share your story. 

The internal Wellbeing and Environmental Sustainability Working Group at Western District Health Service have recently trialled a WDHS Food Swap.   In late December, the first (hopefully of many!) food swap was held for staff and volunteers. The WDHS community was encouraged to meet to share homemade, home grown and foraged goods with each other. Food Swaps are a super way to broaden your pantry and diet, get rid of surplus foods you may have grown or made yourself (bulk zucchinis ring a bell?), be mindful of food miles, pick up tips around growing your own and connect with others. The first swap at WDHS during the week before Christmas was a success. The group plan to make the Swaps monthly events this year. Organiser Jacinta Wareham said she was thrilled with the range of contributions people brought along, which included vegetables, herbs, fruit, floral arrangements, eggs, egg cartons, seeds and recipes. “And I loved the conversations that flowed around the room – ‘what plant is that? What do you do with it? .What can I cook with this?’ It was really great to see the inventiveness of people who didn’t necessarily have a productive vegetable garden, but found other ways that they could contribute. Our motto is ‘take what you need, give what you can’. And don’t forget to bring a bag!”   Could your workplace, school or sporting club benefit from hosting a food swap? You might be surprised at what hidden talents lay within your community! To learn more about how Western District Health Service have started their swaps, get in touch at [email protected]   

Southern Grampians Shire Council (SGSC) staff launch into their second internal workplace step challenge!   After almost 100 staff members keenly participated in 2018, SGSC Learning and Development Officer Lisa Kearney decided to again push the cohort to build healthy habits. “Our February challenge will run for four weeks and we already have over 17 staff teams registered to take part. We celebrated the end of a similar challenge in October with a healthy afternoon tea and presentation of a novelty trophy to the winning team, everyone is certainly keen to have another crack and improve on last year’s effort. This time  our Mayor and Councillors are also getting involved”.  SGSC staff use the free platform “on-track 10,000 steps” throughout the challenge to record and monitor their steps and other health behaviours like fruit and vegetable consumption and sleep. Challengers are awarded extra steps for meeting nutrition and sleep goals. The site accumulates team steps to calculate distance covered and virtually teams race their way from one Australian city to another.                                        There have been notable changes in the workplace during and following the past challenge Lisa says, “We’ve definitely noticed an influx of people whom choose to get up and walk to a co-workers desk to communicate, as opposed to sending an email from down the hall. There have also been teams implementing walking meetings which are a great way to get your activity levels up and actually boost productivity”. 2018 participant, Andrew from Local Laws, said one thing he noticed was how hard it was to get steps in during days of travel, “I average around 24,000 steps though the active nature of my job and the activity I do, but I’ve noticed on the days where I spend time on the road that reduces a lot, I’d never really considered it before now”. Staff members use normal smartphones with step tracking capabilities, as well as activity trackers that synced with the 10,000 steps web platform to record daily activity. SGSC were able to purchase a small number of devices for staff members keen to participate with no form of existing activity tracker.                         Has your workplace, community group, club or school made a change so that the healthier choice is the easier choice? Or do you have an idea to increase physical activity or healthy choices? Let us know about it! The GenR8 Change support team is here to share your story, connect you with like-minded others and provide support in making healthy change. Contact Ebony at [email protected] , or 5551 8475.     

Local employer Iluka Resources make workplace health and well being a priority! The Hamilton Iluka site encourages staff members to increase physical activity during and outside of work hours through a number of innovative incentives! Sit-stand workstations - employees are encouraged to break up long periods of sitting by standing during meetings and utilising sit-stand workstations to reap health benefits, including a decreased risk of chronic disease. Annual Team Pedometer Challenge - The Iluka Team Walk challenge has been running for 7 years for 6-8 weeks duration over the winter months, when activity levels generally decrease. Both incidental and deliberate exercise count toward the challenge and step conversions are made for activities such as swimming and cycling. Everyone across the company is invited to participate, from employees to contractors, irrespective of fitness level. The 2015 challenge attracted 200 participants! Participation in healthy local activities - employees are informed about upcoming fun runs and other active events, including the Vitality fun run, Relay for Life, Mosaic to Mountain Fun Run and the Serra Terror. Often Iluka sponsors these events or makes a donation for every staff member that registers. Other health and well being initiatives in place at Iluka include; provision of fruit, flu vaccinations, skin checks and toolbox presentations on health topics including hydration and skin cancer awareness. Do you have an idea for action in the workplace that will better enable physical activity and/or healthy food choice?  Click Take Action and let us know about it!

Western District Health Service is taking a stand and discontinuing the sale of sugary drinks to make the healthier choice the easier choice There will no longer be any sugary drinks or soft drinks sold in cafeterias or vending machines across all WDHS campuses. As the first hospital in Victoria to implement this policy, WDHS is acting as a national leader in addressing our growing obesity problem. With more than two thirds of the Australian population overweight or obese it is necessary for organisations to implement these compelling policies. WDHS Chief Executive Officer Rohan Fitzgerald explains, “As a health promoting organisation, we felt it is very important that we take the next step so that we could support people in terms of understanding some of the implications of their decision making.” WDHS is a valued contributor to the GenR8 Change movement, and by making this change they provide an excellent example as to how the healthy choice can be made the easy choice.  The GenR8 Change movement is all about collaborating as a community to create sustainable change throughout the Southern Grampians. It involves generating solutions to the obesity problem that we can ALL be accountable for!  For further details, you can read the full story that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on November 28: WDHS helping people rethink sugary drinks If you're part of the action making the healthy choice the easy choice, we'd love to hear about it and share your story. Click Take Action to let us know what is happening.