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Future directions in training and professional development

Four years ago, Sorell Council Senior Management asked for volunteers across all departments to form a Health & Wellbeing Committee, to put in place programs that would not only encourage staff to consider healthy lifestyle options, but also to break down barriers between different departments.

The Committee currently consists of staff from across all Council departments - Denita Cragg (HR Officer), Mike Percey (Corporate Accountant), Greg Robertson (Senior Environmental Health Officer), Sonia Pullen (Administrative Officer) and Brian Dorman (Senior Plumbing Surveyor).

The Committee meets monthly to plan and organise the upcoming program and has found that, due to changes in society and the geographical spread of staff, there appears to be less opportunity for staff to engage socially. The Health & Wellbeing program has endeavoured to provide these opportunities and to promote wellbeing.

Staff are included as much as possible in the program planning. Should a staff member have a special interest in a particular issue or charity, the Health & Wellbeing Committee will endeavour to support it. A recent example was when one staff member advocated holding a morning tea to raise funds for the Save the Tasmanian Devil program. Other staff assisted in the organisation of the activity, which hopefully gave them a connection to the Health and Wellbeing programs.

The program’s activities are quite diverse and have included: guest speakers presenting on health issues - cancer, depression etc; a lunchtime ‘round robin’ triathlon competition over four weeks, including bocce, quoits and darts; a focus on promoting healthy habits - lunchtime walks, healthy nutrition sessions, and healthy BBQs; a staff ‘Biggest Loser’ competition; a ‘Swap It’ month to encourage staff to swap bad habits for good ones – the committee provided a soup lunch, fruit teas and smoothies, and fruit for staff; a football handball competition during AFL grand final weekend; and a vegetable swap in growing season. A long-term goal of the committee is to be able to provide skin cancer checks for all staff, as this is something that can really make a difference to their lives.

Another of the ongoing activities the committee runs as part of the health and wellbeing program is a bushwalking outing, held monthly on Saturdays. Greg Robertson, who has an interest in bushwalking, and who found that many other staff members were interested as well. Family and pets are always welcome to join in on the walks and, recently, the invitation was extended to staff of other councils in Southern Tasmania.

We have found that the committee’s activities have been well received by the staff due to the diversity of health information provided, the fun approach in getting staff of different departments together, and the inclusion of staff that have a special interest in any social program or charity.