Parks Victoria

Parks Victoria became involved in what was to become the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Project under their ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’ Program. A project manager, Steve Pellan, was appointed and gave the project the name, Warburton Cycling Hub (WCH) and they worked with Mountain Biking Groups to review the potential locations for trail development.

This program hopes to improve people’s health through the development of projects like the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Program and many other such developments that are happening throughout Victoria under their aegis. These are matched by similar developments in other states and throughout the world. However, the health research behind these projects overlooks issues like the gender imbalance, age imbalance, the competition these developments have with other users like bushwalkers and runners and by not taking into account the health risks of the sport through injuries which are not compared to the health benefits. This is discussed on our issues page on health.

Information about what the Healthy Parks Healthy People Program is in their publication: ‘A Guide to Healthy Parks Healthy People’ which can be accessed on this link: Guide-to-Healthy-Parks-Healthy-People.pdf

Here are some of the relevant excerpts:

Urban and national parks and waterways provide essential places for physical exercise, relaxation, play, learning and discovery. For children, they help to instil a lifelong connection with nature. For example, visitors to Victoria’s parks annually undertake 37 million short walks, 16 million visits for exercise and fitness, 12 million visits for playing with children, five million cycling visits, nine million visits for nature and wildlife observation, two million camping visits, and ten million visits for socialising with family and friends. In providing these settings, parks are a highly cost effective contributor to preventing and treating a variety of growing public health issues. However, there are still many barriers that prevent some people in the community from accessing parks and gaining health benefits. For example, only around 2 per cent of Victorian primary and secondary school children currently benefit from Parks Victoria education programs in parks. People from culturally diverse communities, people with disabilities and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds find it more difficult to access parks, yet these groups often have poorer health outcomes, which may benefit from time spent in nature.

Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes,cardio-vascular disease, depression and anxiety are among the fastest growing health and cost burdens in Victoria. Increasing urbanisation and changing lifestyles have resulted in more
people spending less time in nature, doing less physical activity, and becoming more stressed and socially isolated. For example: – More than half of the Australian population are either sedentary or have a low level of exercise, leading to an increased rate of obesity and overweight.1

– Children are exercising less, with just one-third meeting the benchmark for good health of 60 minutes of physical activity per day.2

– Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic health condition in Australia with over one million cases of Type 2 diabetes. More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year and the majority of these are preventable through improved lifestyle.3

– In Australia, it’s estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety. One in five adolescents experience depression by the time they reach 18.4

– Social disengagement and isolation continues to be an increasing concern for
the wellbeing of groups such as youth, new migrants and rural and remote populations

1, 2 2016 Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour: Evidence
Summary, VicHealth