WARRNAMBOOL Springers have become the first organisation in south-west Victoria to complete a landmark VicHealth club development initiative.
Springers officials and representatives from VicHealth, South West Sport and Warrnambool City Council yesterday gathered at the club to mark the achievement.
The program, titled Healthy Sporting Environments, asks clubs to complete six modules centred on improving their cultures and promoting heathy lifestyles.
The modules cover responsible use of alcohol, healthy eating, reducing tobacco use, UV protection, injury prevention and fostering an inclusive environment.
VicHealth devised the initiative in 2012 and joined forces with regional sport assemblies such as South West Sport to implement it at grassroots level.
There are 250 clubs across regional Victoria taking part, including 23 in south-west Victoria covering a range of sports.
VicHealth manager of physical activity, sport and healthy eating Stefan Grun said his organisation wanted to help clubs become more sustainable.
“The idea in this context is we support the gymnastics club to a point. It might be with healthy eating, alcohol or preventing injury,” he said.
“So helping with things that people expect from the club, in the sense that it’s more family-friendly, inviting, safer, healthier, all that stuff.
“It means more participants come through the door and you keep those participants for a good period of time.”
The Healthy Sporting Environments is targetted solely at bush clubs, but Grun said the issues addressed were “common across all sporting clubs in Victoria”.
“We find providing a clear program and guidance on addressing those issues, it gives them the support they need to create that welcoming environment,” he said.
“We have a number of programs operating in the metropolitan area so we wanted to make sure we provided support in regional Victoria as well.”
Warrnambool City Council gymnastics co-ordinator Pam Davis said the program had proven beneficial for the Springers, who have 300 members.
“We had quite a few policies in place but through the whole process we’ve been able to streamline them,” she said.
“There were a couple of things, one of them was a sports clearance, when someone gets injured, they get a clearance to come back. We didn’t have that in place.” South West Sport project officer Marli Blackney-Noter, who is charged with implementing the content, said the program was adaptable for a range of clubs.
The participating clubs are involved with gymnastics, bowls, football umpiring, football, netball, cricket, tennis and golf, among others. “I think the experience is every club is very, very different. You’ve got to really tailor it for the clubs,” she said.