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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).

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.

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.

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.

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:

ObjectiveObjective

A physically active community

Implement measures that support and promote healthy eating

  • Provide quality open space, sporting and recreation facilities accessible for all ages, ethnicities, ability-levels and socio-economic groups.
  • Ensure a range of physical activities are available for all ages, ethnicities, ability-levels and socio-economic groups
  • Ensure active travel options (such as walking, cycling and public transport) are readily available between home, centres and attractions.
  • Ensure that localities are walkable.
  • Provide streets that are attractive and safe.
  • Provide town centres and other key destinations that are safe, vibrant and attractive, day and night.
  • Require private developments to address the street and be well connected to movement systems.
  • Undertake education activities to promote active living.
  • Undertake education activities and provide information to promote healthy eating.
  • Promote sustainable food practices in the local council region.
  • Increase community access to healthy food options.
  • Establish a council procurement policy that supports and promotes healthy food choices.
  • Maintain and extend participation in local and regional food production and exchange.
  • Protect and utilise land appropriate for local and regional food production.
  • Liaise with the food industry to endure there is not inappropriate outdoor advertising in child-sensitive locations (such as near schools, childcare centres, parks and children's cycleways).
  • Provide local technical input into the preparation and implementation of District Plans and Regional Growth Plans on the location and nature of food related land-uses.
  • Promote private investment and innovation in healthy food.
  • Ensure food preparation and handling is clean and safe.
  • Minimise food waste to landfill.
  • Promote the availability of healthy food outlets and community markets with a variety of healthy, accessible and culturally appropriate foods.
  • Provide physical infrastructure, including public transport, safe walkable routes and footpaths to facilitate access to shops and other healthy food outlets.
  • Support the protection of productive agricultural land to keep fresh food available locally.
  • Create space for farmers' markets in land-use planning processes.

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.

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.

Regional growth plans and district plans (under A Plan for Growing Sydney) contain a range of relevant elements:

  • Housing (density) targets
  • Employment targets
  • Major transport routes
  • Regional open space location

 

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).