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Promoting Healthy Communities through Self-Care


The feeling of constant stress is often common in our endlessly busy lives.  We are already beyond capacity looking after our teams, our families, emotionally supporting the people around us that we barely have time to focus on our own wellbeing. The Healthy People – Healthy Communities Program Day allowed us to reflect on the importance of mindfulness and self-care and how it helps to promote healthy communities.

When we talk of self-care, there are many misconceptions that come to mind and one of such include taking long meditations, sitting crossed legged with one hand on the stomach and the other on the chest focusing on our breathing and following calm chants. Self-care comes in many forms. While meditations have proven to have many benefits and is one of the ways we can self-regulate and reduce stress, self-care is the little actions that we take consciously and consistently that lead us to happier and healthier lives.

Dr Jodie Fleming helped us to understand the psychology of wellbeing through the lens of the Happiness Pie. The pie is a 50/10/40 pie chart that reveals the factors that determines happiness.

The first piece is attributed to our Genetic Circumstances (50% of the pie). It is known as the set point, and it explains why some people are happier than others.

The second piece lies in our Life Circumstances (10% of the pie). These are all the situational events that happen around us. Our social and economic situations or the adversities we face. It is surprising to know that the job satisfaction that we achieve, the wealth we own or the misery we experience only attributes to about ten percent of our happiness.

The final piece of the pie is attributed to our Intentional Activities (40% of the pie). This refers to the conscious decisions we make, and activities we undertake to improve our happiness. This may include practicing daily meditations to improve emotional regulation, journaling to promote self-awareness, reaching out to someone to increase social connectedness, spending some time in nature, going for a jog or mindful walk in the garden or blocking some time to do NOTHING. The important thing here is trying to harness the 40% in the happiness pie through self-care.

As leaders, our actions set the standard for our people. Once we have determined the intentional actions that will improve our happiness, it is important to make it a consistent experiment and share it with others. If we are open about our investment into self-care, we will promote a healthy community around us, and our people will follow our lead.

A special thank you to our speakers Lisa McLeod – Populus Data, Rebecca Callahan – Barwon Southwest Homelessness Network, Emma Mahony – Women’s Health and Wellbeing, Michael Struth – Western Victoria Primary Mental Health Network, and Dr Jodie Fleming – The Psychology of it, who helped us to understand the data behind our community wellbeing and the local initiatives that promote the wellbeing of this great region.

Jennifer Thomas, 2022 LGSC Participant.


Industry demonstrates the importance of community collaboration


The importance of industry collaborating with community via community consultation and engagement was highlighted throughout our most recent Leadership Great South Coast (LGSC) program day, ‘Taking an Industry Perspective’. The benefits and challenges of industry within small communities was also examined.

The small South West Victorian town of Portland is a vibrant town with a population of 10,000 people. LGSC’s program day enabled participants to take a closer look at Industry in the Portland township.

Portland houses both the Port of Portland and Portland Aluminium, which directly employ 700 people between them.  Portland is also the home of other industries including fishing, forestry, freight, transport, food and hospitality.

Two of our guest speakers, Shannon Curran from Port of Portland and Mark Riley from Portland Aluminium both demonstrated genuine care and concern for their employees. They highlighted the importance of developing trust through careful community consultation and engagement, including honest and clear communication, particularly for big industries operating within small communities. Community collaboration also provides an opportunity to gain broader perspectives and ideas from the community resulting in increased innovation.

Both of Portland’s major industries are very visible when driving through Portland.  Industry representatives discussed that it is important to be visible and transparent within the local community.  Both stated that they welcome questions from the community and answer these questions honestly. They offer regular open days so that community can visit.  The community are also kept engaged and updated via social media posts.

Big industry plays an important role in the community, employing locals and providing some financial support to community groups.  However, there are some risks to industry in smaller communities which need to be carefully monitored and involving the community in consultation processes helps to keep the industry honest and accountable.

A special thank you to all the wonderful guest speakers who presented at this program day including, Mark Riley from Portland Aluminium, Loren Tuck from Deakin Hycel project, Shannon Curran from Port of Portland and Luke Thorpe from Yumbah Aquaculture. All our guest speakers talked about how much they valued their workplaces, fellow employees and the communities in which they live.

Sarah Irving, 2022 LGSC Participant


Are we able to smack a child?


Is smacking a child acceptable in today’s world? What is considered Family Violence? What would you do if you become aware of Family Violence?

Let’s explore these questions.

Mum, Dad, and their three children have just moved into a new house. Mum is unpacking the kitchen; Dad is setting up the beds and the children are running wild with excitement.

One child has jumped on the glass table and dad has quickly pushed him off the table.

Is this family violence?

The child hits his head on the ground.

Do you consider this now family violence?

The child now has a concussion and is vomiting. He is taken to the hospital.

Is this now family violence?

The dad explains the events to the doctor, the doctor is required to report the events to Child Protection and the Police. The dad was charged with unlawful assault and an intervention order was put in place.

What else could the dad have done? Told the child to hop off the table or picked him up off the table.

This brings us back to the question, is smacking kids allowed?

In Australia we have-

  • laws that say we can’t hit adults
  • laws that we can’t hit animals
  • there are no laws about smacking children

There are laws already in countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark that have all made it illegal to smack a child. Is it time Australia takes the same stance? We have laws to protect children from excessive discipline, but what is that? We all see ‘excessive’ differently.

Family violence is an issue in the community. White Ribbon says ‘on average, one woman a week is killed by her intimate male partner’, and on average police attend a family violence incident every six minutes in Victoria.  In 30% of those cases a child was present at the incident. Family violence can be Emotional, Psychological, Financial, Sexual, and Physical Abuse.

If you become aware of this occurring to a colleague, friend, or family member there are resources that you can link them into-

Thank you to our guest speakers, that opened our eyes up to safety issues within our community-

  • Magistrate Simon Guthrie
  • Carla Sudholz- Court Register, Warrnambool Law Courts
  • Chris Asenjo- Detective Senior Sergeant, VicPol
  • Carolyn Howe- Specialist Family Violence Prosecutor, Victoria Police
  • Jodie Outtram- Alcohol and Other Drug Clinician, South West Healthcare

Daniel Pearson, 2022 LGSC Participant


Can the Great South Coast Tell the Bold Stories?


There is a way to grow and secure the economic future of the Great South Coast’s (GSC) economy despite sitting outside the gravitational pull of Melbourne, the loss of thousands of jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and young adults packing their bags and heading to the big city leaving the region with a higher than average age profile. But we need strong leadership and courage to tell the bold stories.

Simon Kuestenmacher, co-founder and director at The Demographics Group, implored us to understand the trends and changes of our region at both a local and world scale, so we can make informed decisions on our future. Australia is the 13th largest economy (GDP/capita) in the world and growing. The majority of our trillion-dollar international trading is with our Asian neighbours who are experiencing massive growth and by 2030 will contain mega cities with over a million people each. Charlie McElhone, Group Manager Trade & Industry Strategy at Dairy Australia, described Greater China and South East Asia as the two biggest markets consuming dairy in 2021/22. The GSC is one of the largest producers and processors of milk in Australia with an economic contribution of $1.99 billion in gross regional product (GRP) and 12,400 jobs after flow-on effects. We have the industry and the market but what are our threats?

Although the GSC sits two hours outside the gravitational pull of Melbourne, Simon showed the region has seen an increase in house prices ranging from 18% to 34% in the past year, increasing prices to an unattainable level for many. Charlie estimates a 3.5% decline in milk production this season from last season. Some threats being lack of labour, competition for land and higher beef prices. Natalie Collard, Executive Officer at Food & Fibre Great South Coast, described how some GSC communities don’t have access to adequate services to efficiently operate their businesses.

Given this, what is our bold story? We need to invest in us, the GSC, invest in new technology, infrastructure and use of natural resources sustainably and we will continue to provide world class dairy, food and fibre products for years to come. We also need to have the courage and creative thinking as leaders to invest in retaining staff, to then attract employees into the region. Are you up for the challenge?

Thank you to Simon, Charlie, Natalie and Brendan Rea from Solaris Farms for providing us with an insight into how the economy drives the Great South Coast.

Justin Harzmeyer, 2022 LGSC Program Participant

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