This Guide has been prepared to provide guidance to local councils (and other interested parties) on how they can promote community health and well-being by addressing active living and healthy eating priniciples and practices, as they implement, monitor and review their Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) frameworks.
Being active and healthy is good for our health and our economy. It also has real benefits for communities and individuals. Healthy communities are more connected, participate more in community activities, are more productive and reduce the environmental impacts of car dependence. Active living and healthy eating also reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, some cancers, depression and falls.
At the Local Government level, encouragement of physical activity and some food-related activities are long-standing activities of councils, and are promoted by the Office of Local Government and Local Government NSW. For instance, the Office of Local Government publication 'Creating Active Communities' (2006) contains a wealth of information on councils’ roles and responsibilities, including extensive local case studies, and Local Government NSW policy recognises that ‘Local Government shares the vision where all Australians are actively involved in social activities, sport, community recreation, fitness, outdoor recreation and other physical activities’.
Councils have traditionally been responsible for local transport infrastructure (roads, footpaths, cycleways), recreation and community facilities, land-use planning and regulation of private development. The options for action extend beyond direct provision (and management) and regulation to partnerships and an advocacy role (for matters of State and Federal responsibility).
The options for local government action can be summarised as follows:
- Direct action, including the provision of infrastructure and services (perhaps in partnership), eg. road construction, operation of recreation facilities, waste collection services, water supply (in some cases).
- Regulation of private activities eg. land-use planning, community land activities, food inspections, enforcement powers.
- Persuasion (including incentives), education and advocacy.
The scope for action is broad, but is subject to major financial constraints which result in competition for priority activities and projects. See: