The topic of the Built Environment panel is:
Harnessing community voice to enhance the built environment for physical activity.
Our panellists include (click to read more):
Two way listening in the contested realm of public space planning.
Whose voices do we hear? Irate neighbours fighting higher density development. Business owners resisting street changes. Children’s voices. This presentation discusses examples of studies seeking voices seldom heard in built environment planning – those of neighbours not making headlines when confronted by new housing developments and of children in urban and suburban neighbourhoods. The mixed success of engaging children will be highlighted with reference to organisational advocacy, project timing, the openness of professionals and the need to develop the knowledge and capacity of children to participate and envisage what is possible.
About Karen: Professor Karen Witten is a geographer and psychologist with research interests in neighbourhood design and how housing, transport, amenity access and social environments influence the everyday mobility, health and wellbeing of residents. Her work is interdisciplinary and has had a particular focus on the wellbeing of children and people with disabilities. She is a Professor of Public Health at the SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, Massey University, Auckland.
Healthy Urban Design: Learning from London and Auckland
Regular physical activity is essential for public health. Successive investment decisions in favour of private motor traffic have reduced people’s exposure to utilitarian exercise. While the health consequences of physical inactivity are reasonably well known, it can be much more challenging to redirect business-as-usual processes to deliver streets that enable active travel. How can the community voice make a difference? This presentation examines case studies from Auckland and London, examining innovative approaches to street design, communication, engagement and evaluation.
About George: George Weeks is a Principal Urban Designer in the Auckland Council Urban Design Unit, focusing on land use and transport integration in Auckland city centre. He was previously an urban designer at Transport for London (TfL) responsible for streetscape guidance, healthy urban design and valuing the urban realm. His work reflects a lifelong interest in the design of inclusive city streets and their impact on people’s health and wellbeing. (100 words)
Barriers to walking as experienced, measured, and seen by practitioners.
People assess their environments, deciding how “walkable” they are, and what barriers they present. Perceived barriers and difficulties are essential to understanding why local trips might not be walked. This presentation examines the non-walkable as perceived by diverse people and by professionals involved in the design of street environments. Drawing on interviews of Aucklanders (disabled and non-disabled), as well as a survey and focus group of professionals, it examines how the needs are understood by the practice, and what challenges evidence-based improvement of the environments.
About Tamara: Tamara Bozovic is a transport planner interested in cities for people, places that are inclusive, sustainable, and easy to get around. She has worked in Switzerland, Argentina and New Zealand, focusing on public transport, walking, cycling, and integration between transport systems and urban design. Now she is completing a PhD at Auckland University of Technology examining barriers to walking experienced by people of different ages and abilities, in car-dominated urban environments.
The topic of the Mental Health panel is:
Vulnerable populations, challenges and opportunities for improving mental health through physical activity.
Our panellists include:
Physical activity in the treatment and prevention of mental illness
From depression to schizophrenia, anxiety to post-traumatic stress – physical activity is an evidence-based strategy to reduce symptoms and promote recovery from various mental disorders. Addressing motivational deficits and overcoming barriers, especially for those that are most unwell remains an ongoing challenge to the routine implementation of physical activity as a component of mental health care. This presentation will use examples of established clinical exercise in mental health programs, with a focus on novel strategies, including staff interventions that can help facilitate culture change and physical activity adoption within mental health treatment facilities.
About Simon: Simon Rosenbaum is Scientia Associate Professor in the School of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney, and an honorary fellow at the Black Dog Institute. Simon’s research focuses on physical activity, mental illness, sport for development and global mental health. Simon has worked with a variety of groups including youth, veterans, emergency service workers and refugees. Simon has published >180 peer-reviewed publications including a textbook and a Lancet Commission. He serves as an elected national director of Exercise and Sports Science Australia, the President Elect of the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and co-chair of the Olympic Refuge Foundation’s think tank on sport and humanitarian settings. In 2019, Simon was recognised by the Clarivate Highly Cited list for mental health, awarded to the top 1% of researchers in a given field worldwide.
Mental Health Promotion through Sport: How, What, and Why?
The promotion and protection of mental health in organised sports is an issue of increasing visibility and importance. This presentation will cover the big questions of how, what, and why mental health promotion through sport might be an effective approach to public health. Using the example of the Ahead of the Game program, Dr Vella will talk about the opportunities and challenges in developing, evaluating, translating, and scaling sport-based mental health programs around the world.
About Stewart: Dr Stewart Vella is the Director of the Global Alliance for Mental Health and Sport at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He is the most published scientist in the world on the topic of mental health and sport. He is also a Subject Matter Expert on mental health in sport with Movember. His work spans mental health programs, mental health guidelines, psychological safety, and mental fitness. Since 2015 he has led the design, development, evaluation, translation and scaling of the “Ahead of the Game” program, including as the official program of the Rugby League World Cup 2021. He is currently developing mental health guidelines for community sports in Australia.
Physical activity, fitness and resilience to stress during the final years of schooling
The final years of schooling are highly stressful for many students, and evidence shows a spike in stress-related mental disorders during this period. Physical activity (PA) is an often-cited strategy for coping with stress, but only 6% of older adolescents meet national PA recommendations. Although stress reduction is a readily recalled benefit of PA, exactly ‘how’ PA confers this benefit remains unclear. The Cross-Stressor Adaptation Hypothesis posits that the ‘physical’ stress of PA leads to physiological adaptations that promote resilience to ‘psychosocial’ stressors. This presentation describes recent research with older adolescents aimed at understanding the impacts and underlying mechanisms of PA on stress in this priority population.
About Jordan: Dr Jordan Smith completed his PhD at the University of Newcastle (UoN) in 2015 and is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at UoN. Dr Smith has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, along with three invited book chapters. His work has attracted over 3000 citations, and he currently has a Google Scholar H-index of 25. Dr Smith has received competitive research funding from the NHMRC (as CI), industry partners (as CI and PI), and philanthropy (as PI) for the design, implementation and evaluation of physical activity interventions for school-aged youth. Dr Smith has a particular interest in the promotion of health behaviours such as physical activity for supporting the mental health of children and adolescents, using schools as the primary intervention setting.
Breaking down silos for better outcomes
New knowledge without effective and timely implementation into policy and practice is a lost opportunity for change. Traditional research methods have time delays that cannot meet the current needs of individuals, families and communities who are experiencing, or at risk of, mental health challenges. There is a clear and pressing need for new methods of translating research into practice and working across disciplines and settings. There is also an imperative to shift towards practice that draws together, in real-time, the best available knowledge from research, from practice and from lived experience. This presentation will outline current challenges in the current approach as well as pose some opportunities for change.
About Jaelea: Dr Jaelea Skehan OAM is an internationally respected leader in the prevention of mental ill-health and the prevention of suicide. She is the Director of Everymind, a Newcastle-based organisation delivering best-practice programs and translational research. Between 2019 and 2020, Dr Skehan was the Special Adviser to the National Suicide Prevention Taskforce, supporting the work of the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Suicide Prevention. Jaelea is passionate about translating evidence into practice and building the capacity of individuals, families, services and communities to be involved in mental health and suicide prevention. She is a registered psychologist and holds a conjoint appointment with the College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing at the University of Newcastle. She is co-lead of the Prevention Hub, a collaborative centre for research translation in prevention of depression and anxiety and contributes to national and global reform through advisory roles. In 2014 Jaelea was announced as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence, and in 2020 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to community mental health and wellbeing and won the University of Newcastle Alumni Award for Regional Leadership.
The topic of the Implementation panel is:
Systems approaches to physical activity: How it applies to implementation, scale-up and policy development in Australia.
Our panellists include:
Using systems science approaches to enhance the scaling up of population interventions
Despite many important global public health successes, for physical activity there is a continued lack of interventions that have been scaled up to achieve sustainable and equitable population health improvement. Implementation science approaches have dominated the scale up literature, which typically promote a sequential and mechanistic spread of interventions. Systems change plays a major role in the relationship between implementation processes and institutionalization of public health interventions; yet systems approaches remain underutilized in scaling up. This presentation will discuss findings from a study using systems analysis, which identified mechanisms underpinning the successful scale-up of physical activity and nutrition interventions in Australia.
About Harriet: Dr Harriet Koorts is a Senior Research Fellow/Implementation Scientist in the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University, Melbourne. Harriet’s research focuses on the implementation and scale-up of population health interventions, including the use of systems methodologies. Harriet leads IPAN’s Implementation Science Cross-Domain Theme and is chair of ASPA’s Scaling Up Physical Activity (SUPA) Special Interest Group. Over the past 10 years, Harriet has held multiple positions in academia, local government and the UK National Health Service, requiring her skills in implementation and evaluation to inform the commissioning of health promotion programs and delivery of clinical health services in practice.
Applying evidence to inform policy action
The 8 ‘best-buys’ represent a systems-based approach to implementing physical activity policy. This presentation will demonstrate how this evidence was used to build a system-based approach to physical activity policy development (and implementation). Examples are drawn from within the Victorian (Australia) policy context. The presentation will describe some of the challenges and opportunities that arose through applying the evidence across different sectors and how these factors were overcome.
About Louise: Louise is an experienced policy advisor, having worked in both the non-for-profit and State government sectors. Her policy focus is physical activity, and she has developed and/or contributed to State-wide policy across multiple sectors including health, sport, education and transport. A key strength is her ability to build relationships across government that facilitate policy alignment to elevate the role of physical activity. Louise is completing a PhD in implementation science with a focus on implementing physical activity within routine healthcare services. When she is not working and studying, she likes to get lost on a leafy (but not too hilly!) trail run.
Creating Active Schools
Physical activity is a complex behaviour which is influenced by many factors. Schools, families and the community all have a role to play. Strategic, cross government action is required to shift physical activity outcomes. Cross government commitment through a Joint Ministerial Statement between Education (Minister Merlino), Community Sport (Minister Spence) and Health (Minister Foley) is supporting schools to shift physical activity outcomes through the creation of Active Schools.
An Active School encourages physical activity through a whole school approach which goes beyond traditional physical education and sport, and promotes physical activity at every opportunity as part of everyday school life. The approach also engages families and communities, to promote healthy behaviours beyond the school environment. This presentation will provide an overview of the Active Schools approach and provide some early learnings on the implementation of this initiative across Victoria.
About Skye: Skye is currently Manager of the Physical Activity and Healthy Eating team at Department of Education and Training. She is an experienced policy advisor and practitioner, having worked in the State government sector, not-for-profit sector and schools. Originally starting out as a primary school teacher and personal trainer, she later completed a Masters of Health Promotion and lead the Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope Heart Program as well as working in Health Promotion at the Alfred Hospital. Passionate about empowering children, young people and families to be more physically active, her skillset has allowed her to translate public policy into practice.