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Published 16 Nov 2021
Our community involvement looked a little different during 2021, but we’re proud of the impact our partnerships and volunteering have had on the local community both in person and online.
As a regionally based health fund, supporting the local community is at the heart of everything we do. GMHBA is committed to supporting local and we have a responsibility to our members and the broader community to connect in positive and meaningful ways.
GMHBA’s Healthy Heroes program is an initiative run in partnership with Geelong Football Club. The program delivers developmentally appropriate healthy behaviour messages to all primary school aged students across the G21 region, focusing on nutrition, physical activity, sleep, water, and screen time.
As part of the program, students get to interact with AFL and AFLW players, and there’s special guest appearances from Half-Cat and Clawdia. Grades 5 & 6 students, as leaders in their schools, take on the challenge of designing initiatives to increase healthy behaviours amongst their peers.
Over the last 12 months, the Healthy Heroes program was delivered in 42 primary schools, using a combination of face-to-face and virtual delivery methods. 3,778 students were reached through the program- that’s 3,778 Healthy Heroes who are now more confident to make the best choices for their health.
To support the success of the program, parents and teachers are encouraged to get involved too. Every year, we hold a Parents’ Evening event and a professional development session for teachers. Due to the ongoing COVID-related restrictions, these events were held online in 2021. Parents’ Evening became Parents’ Week, with short, 20 minute sessions held over lunchtime every day from October 18-22. The week featured an overview of the PERMAH framework for wellbeing, healthy lunchbox building tips, ideas for staying active, and insights from Psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. The professional development session for teachers, also online, looked at ways parents and teachers can support each other, and young people to maintain healthy habits and good mental health during the transition to Covid-normal.
Read the Play
Read the Play is an important initiative developed in response to the mental health challenges faced by many young people. It is delivered through sporting clubs to enhance mental health literacy and help-seeking behaviours.
GMHBA’s partnership with Read the Play ensured the program could still provide this important guidance for young people, even in the face of COVID-19 restrictions. Our contribution supported the development of an online learning platform for Player Wellbeing Officers and parents to access the information and resources they need to best support young people.
In total, 89 parents and 52 Player Wellbeing Officers accessed the online learning modules, which have built their confidence in identifying mental health issues in young people, and referring them to appropriate services as needed.
Caring for vulnerable members during lockdowns
During lockdowns, GMHBA health services staff were redeployed to the Care Coordination Services (CCS) team. This expanded Care Coordination Service provided additional support to our most vulnerable members through check in phone calls and hand delivering care packages. More than 370 GMHBA members were contacted as part of the program, with more than half of those members taking up the offer of ongoing support phone calls from the team.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions and challenges, GMHBA staff have continued to step up to support our communities. 31% of our staff donated via Workplace Giving to Give Where You Live Foundation, which supports employment, education and those experiencing life crisis, to a total of $33,793.92.
As part of our commitment to community, GMHBA staff are entitled to one paid day of volunteering leave per year (pro-rata). Throughout the last 12 months, our staff continued to volunteer in the community where it was possible and safe to do so. In total, we provided 157 hours of staff volunteering to the community, supporting organisations like Geelong Mums, Bellarine Catchment Network, the Red Cross and Hands of Change. Volunteering means that our staff have a first-hand understanding and experience of some of the challenges, and solutions, out there in the community.
GMHBA are proud to have supported our community, members, and staff in a variety of ways over the last twelve months, in what have been really challenging times for all of us. We’re looking forward to a better, brighter year ahead.