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Barwon Health / Barwon South West Public Health Unit

(03) 4215 4000

Growing Heywood’s young people

Thursday, 30 March 2023

The Heywood community is leading the way on improving the health and wellbeing of their children and young people. 

Glenelg Shire Council (GSC) is one of five councils in Barwon South West participating in the VicHealth Local Government Partnership (VLGP).

Council is collaborating with local partners and the Heywood community including children and young people, with the initiative supported by Council’s VLGP project officer.

Rowena Wylie and Ebony Rhook from the Barwon South West Public Health Unit (BSWPHU) Community Partnership team have been supporting GSC as Regional Advisors with Deakin University for the Connecting the Dots (CtD) systems thinking foundation module of the VLGP.

This included supporting Council to facilitate a series of community engagement Group Model Building (GMB) workshops to identify and map the factors that influence the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Heywood and where in ‘the system’ to take action to make change.

Local information can be a game changer in identifying the problem, building on local enablers and addressing the barriers.

Heywood Community Basketball is an example of how reducing barriers can allow a community to thrive.

The Heywood community once had a thriving local basketball association and league, where teams came from across the district to play. However, over time, with the introduction of greater governance processes and increased child safe requirements volunteers began to dwindle, and aging infrastructure began to take its toll. The competition and inevitably the association sadly folded pre Covid. Early on in the GMB process it became evident from both children, young people and community members that the reinvigoration of the basketball association and competition was one of the top asks of the community from all ages.

Fast forward to the VLGP, and Heywood has:
- a fully reinvigorated volunteer run Basketball Association
- run a 10 week Heywood Junior Hoops Program for kids aged 5-12 to learn the basic skills, with strong participation of 60+ kids a night learning how to dribble, pass and shoot hoops
- three local young people employed to coach and run Junior Hoops
- launched the junior basketball competition in February 2023 with 65+ juniors playing and local volunteers driving the comp
- 14 young people trained as basketball referees, so that they can earn money and ensure the competition continues
- resurfacing of the basketball stadium, new equipment and jerseys
- the identified barriers such as travel and cost have been removed, enabling these children to participate easily in local sport options.

Other Growing Heywood’s Young People actions include establishing a social support group from for LGBTIQA+ young people, collaborating with local youth mental health initiative Live4Life and improving access to healthy food options.