New Preventive Health Partnerships for Medicare Locals

Latest update: 07 March 2013

Seven Medicare Locals will receive Australian Government funding to help develop and implement innovative health partnerships to improve health outcomes and reverse the impact of preventable chronic disease in their communities.

The funding, announced today by the Minister for Health, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, and provided through the Australian National Preventive Health Agency’s Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Medicare Locals Program, sponsors Medicare Locals to partner with health services, local councils, researchers and other organisations to deliver preventive health initiatives.

Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Louise Sylvan said she was pleased to see such an exciting array of initiatives being developed by Medicare Locals and their partners.

 “Working in community partnerships to break down barriers to good health, and building the evidence around interventions that work, is critical if we are serious about addressing obesity and preventing chronic disease,” Ms Sylvan said.

“These partnerships work with at-risk groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, refugees and people whose health is affected by complexities such as mental illness, poor literacy, unemployment, social isolation and limited access to services and transport.”

Initiatives include the Western Sydney Diabetes Prevention Program which will focus on increasing protective behaviours amongst high risk populations and reducing the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the area, and the ACT’s Resource and Education About Diabetes for Refugees (READ) project that will help improve lifestyle and chronic disease self-management in refugees with low literacy.

Over the next 3 years more than $5 million will be available to Medicare Locals to deliver these evidence-based approaches to disease prevention.

Ms Sylvan acknowledged the additional funding and in-kind contributions that the key partners are making to the initiatives to complement the Commonwealth investment.

“I am delighted to see that organisations like the Local Health Networks, local councils, universities, local businesses and key health groups have matched or exceeded the Commonwealth investment in these prevention initiatives, which is a very welcome endorsement of Medicare Locals’ pivotal role in coordinating efforts to target health gaps in local communities.”

The Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Medicare Locals Program Initiatives are:


Health Promotion Navigator Project
Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local - $500,000 (GST inc)

This project aims to increase awareness of lifestyle risk factors and interventions available to community members, including through development of a web application that provides interactive screening tools to identify risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney disease. The application will have the capability to link disadvantaged clients in outlying areas to local health professionals and lifestyle modification programs on completion of online assessment.

Partners: Heart Foundation Queensland, Moreton Bay City Council, Brisbane City Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Ethnic Community Council of QLD, Metro North Brisbane Health and Hospital Services, Redcliffe Regional Association, Caboolture Neighbourhood Centre, Bribie Island Neighbourhood Centre, Picabeen Community Association, The Community Place

Active By Community Design – ABCD: the Building Blocks for a Healthy Community
Wide Bay Medicare Local - $500,000 (GST inc)

This project aims to engage local communities to create healthy public places and environments that promote active living and increase usability of local parks and open community spaces. Local employment and skills training groups and other community organisations will provide labour to develop trails and paths, sporting fields, open spaces for free play and active play equipment for park users to be physically active.

Partners: Bundaberg Regional Council, Central Queensland University, IMPACT (community non-government organisation), Bundaberg and Rural Health Services


Literacy Gap in Health Among Target Population (LIGHT)
Inner West Sydney Medicare Local - $750,000 (GST inc)
(consortium with Eastern Sydney Medicare Local)

This project aims to address low health literacy, as a significant barrier to risk factor reduction and chronic disease prevention, among disadvantaged inner Sydney communities. Primary care providers will be given the tools to identify patients with low health literacy to develop the skills needed to communicate more effectively with these groups about improving lifestyle risk factors for chronic diseases.

Partners: Sydney Local Health District, University of NSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, Canterbury City Council, Marrickville Council, Sydney City Council

Western Sydney Diabetes Prevention Program
Western Sydney Medicare Local - $500,000 (GST inc)

This program aims to develop a strong, sustainable primary prevention alliance between key partners in Western Sydney, focused on a "whole of system approach" to increasing protective behaviours amongst high risk populations and reducing the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. The program will include targeted community, workforce and general practice-based screening and a range of lifestyle modification options.

Partners: Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Ministry of Health, Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils Ltd, Inner West Sydney Medicare Local, Australian Diabetes Council, Cancer Council NSW, Sydney University Boden Institute, Various health organisations and community and multicultural services


Northern Respiratory Partnership – Creating better pathways for COPD and Asthma prevention
Northern Adelaide Medicare Local - $477,972 (GST inc)

This project aims to implement an integrated approach to prevention across the health care continuum through the region’s acute care, primary health care services and population health programs, with the aim of reducing the impact of unmanaged chronic diseases and associated risk factors, using smoking and its impact on preventable asthma and COPD as a model. The project will test a partnership approach as a model for addressing common issues of concern by concentrating effort amongst all partners for a minimum of two years (using smoking, asthma and COPD as the issues to target).

Partners: Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, Drug and Alcohol Services SA, Asthma Foundation SA, Australian Lung Foundation, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (SA Branch)


Healthy Great South Coast
Great South Coast Medicare Local - $308,000 (GST inc)

This project aims to:

  • Reduce weight and establish sustained lifestyle changes in at-risk adult participants;
  • Increase awareness of healthy lifestyle behaviours;
  • Improve integration between primary health care and settings (specifically workplaces and schools) for preventive activity; and
  • Improve the effectiveness of partnership approaches for preventive health.

Partners: Ryan’s Freighters, Southern Grampians and Glenelg Primary Care Partnership, South West Primary Care Partnership, seven Local Health Networks (SouthWest Healthcare, Timboon & District, Moyne, Terang & Mortlake, Beaufort & Skipton, Cobden & District, and Western District Health Services), four local councils (Warrnambool City Council, Moyne, Corangamite, Southern Grampians and Glenelg Shire Councils)


Resource and Education About Diabetes for Refugees (READ)
ACT Medicare Local - $227,645 (GST inc)

This project aims to improve lifestyle and chronic disease self-management in refugees with low literacy by developing an Australian-specific multi-level prevention approach suitable for application across other languages and health issues. Activities will include training of community workers, development of appropriate audio-visual resources, and referral to lifestyle modification programs.

Partners: Australian National University Academic Unit of General Practice and Community Health, Companion House ACT Medical Service, ACT Health Directorate Diabetes Service, Diabetes ACT