Goals, objectives and strategies for active living and healthy eating
The Community Strategic Plan is the lead document in the IP&R framework and process. It contains the community’s broad vision and goals for at least the next 10 years. In a logical sequence, it expands on the goals with specific objectives, followed by strategies to achieve them (and measures for monitoring success).
Raising active living and healthy eating at the Community Strategic Plan stage
Ideally, active living and healthy eating can be promoted in a council’s Community Strategic Plan by:
- raising them as issues, as part of the Community Engagement Strategy to develop the Community Strategic Plan (CSP)
- coverage as a goal in the CSP
- specifying objectives and strategies related to active living and healthy eating
- coordinating existing policies and related documents
- coordinating existing related strategies, programs, projects and responsibilities
- including active living and healthy eating performance indicators
- extending attention to other broad determinants of health
a) Active living and healthy eating as goals: vision and guiding principles
The promotion of active living and healthy eating may be considered significant enough by the community to be included in the local council's vision statement. Supplementing the vision, many councils have, on the advice of the IP&R Manual (2013), listed guiding principles to shape the IP&R system. Council's Charter and social justice principles are included as LG Act requirements. Some Community Strategic Plans refer to ‘sustainability’ principles, while others respond more specifically to community views.
Local councils are encouraged to include the promotion of community health and well-being (including active living and healthy eating) on their list of guiding principles in their Community Strategic Plans.
Elaborating on the vision and principles, it is the goals of the Community Strategic Plan that begin to refine the higher order vision. Many local councils have goals that relate to health. Nomination of a simple goal can provide the basis for the more detailed provisions of the framework.
A simple CSP goal
It is suggested that a broad overarching goal, such as ‘community health and well-being’ or ‘a healthy community’ be included. Active living and healthy eating are subsets of such a goal. It also acknowledges that other relevant ‘domains’, such as ‘community connectedness’ could be covered in the objectives and strategies under this goal.
b) Meaningful objectives
Most local councils surveyed for this Guide have included a range of objectives relating to active living in their Community Strategic Plan. One inner Sydney council identifies ‘active transport’ objectives as:
- encouraging walking and cycling
- sustainable transport choices and accessibility
- public transport and infrastructure improvement
- traffic management
- management of car parking
A middle ring Sydney council proposes a future where:
- streets are visually appealing, hosting a variety of native trees, flowers and sustainable gardens;
- residents can get to where they need to go in a way that is accessible, safe, environmentally friendly and efficient; and
- residents are able to walk and cycle safely and conveniently throughout the City.
Another middle ring Sydney council has the following strategies relating to open space:
- Ensure there is equity of access to our open space and recreational facilities;
- Support and facilitate community networks and programs which promote health and wellbeing and encourage a healthy lifestyle; and
- Ensure all public parks and open spaces are accessible, maintained and managed to meet the needs of current and future residents.
There is less detail in relation to healthy eating. One coastal city has a specific objective to support local food production and community food initiatives, with a strategy to “work towards ensuring that all people in our community have access to safe, nutritious, affordable and sustainably produced food”. Healthy eating is implied in a number of health-related objectives and strategies. Others mention food policy as part of sustainability actions or nominate specific actions such as protection of agricultural land, providing community gardens and access to food outlets.
Councils vary in what they regard as objectives and strategies. While the IP&R manual is not prescriptive about the number and mix of objectives or strategies, it is recommended that two simple objectives, with a range of broad strategies is the preferred model.
An active living objective
It is suggested that 'A physically active community' could be a simple objective
A healthy eating objective
It is suggested that 'Implement measures that support and promote healthy eating' could be a simple objective
c) From objectives to broad strategies
The Community Strategic Plan also has to provide broad strategies, as a means of implementing the desired outcomes. The following are some suggestions for broad strategies to accompany specific objectives:
A physically active community
Implement measures that support and promote healthy eating
d) Referencing State and regional plans and policies
As shown in Figure 1, it is a legal requirement for councils to have due regard to NSW State Priorities in NSW Making it Happen and other State/ Regional plans and policies, in the preparation of their Community Strategic Plans. Of particular relevance for active living are the Department of Planning and Environments's Regional Growth Plans and District Plans.
Relevant NSW State priorities
- Keep people healthy and out of hospital
- Build liveable centres
- Make it easier for people to be involved in their communities
- Enhance cultural, creative, sporting and recreation opportunities
- Invest in critical infrastructure
- Grow patronage on public transport by making it a more attractive choice
- Improve customer experience with transport services
- Improve road safety
- Reduce travel times
- Prevent and reduce the level of crime
- Secure potable water supplies
- Protect our natural environment
- Increase opportunities for people to look after their own neighbourhoods and environments
- Drive economic growth in regional NSW
- Increase the competitiveness of doing business in NSW
- Restore trust in State and Local Government as a service provider
Regional Growth Plans focus on immediate actions the NSW Government will take to improve outcomes in each region. Government Ministers and local Members of Parliament consulted with local government and communities to develop the Regional Growth Plans aligned to NSW Making it Happen. Overwhelmingly, the key themes raised across the State were transport, economic growth and local jobs, and land-use planning to protect both the local environment and prime agricultural land.
- Housing (density) targets
- Employment targets
- Major transport routes
- Regional open space location
The Future Needs of Sport Study
This project will provide the framework for future NSW Government investment and policy decisions relating to community sport infrastructure in NSW.
To achieve this objective, the project aims to:
e) Partnering: roles and responsibilities outside Council
One outcome of the Community Strategic Plan process, reinforced by the IP&R Manual (2013), is the identification of actions outside local councils’ direct responsibility. As a result, the Community Strategic Plan, in listing strategies for achieving the objectives/ desired outcomes, can nominate responsible agencies and suggest an advocacy role for the council (and other innovative actions). For example, if improving public transport or a new hospital are objectives, the Community Strategic Plan can note that they are State Government responsibilites and nominate an advocacy/ partnership role for the council. Similarly, if ongoing care and management of reserves is an objective, the establishment, funding and supervision of a Bushcare Volunteer Group could be the strategy. Public and private sector organisations can also partner healthy eating initiatives (eg. NSW Ministry of Health, The Heart Foundation).