Information sharing in action

Friday, June 2, 2023

A sharp focus of the Healthy Kids Advisors approach is finding ways to extend the collective power of our community partners. In the City of Greater Bendigo, our local Healthy Kids Advisor has set up multiple collaborative avenues that facilitate opportunities for on-the-ground learning and information sharing across healthy eating endeavours.

Supporting council priorities

Rebecca Fry, Healthy Kids Advisor for the City of Greater Bendigo, is co-located with the Active and Healthy Communities team at council. As an Advisor, she facilitates healthy food and drink options at four outside school hours care (OSHC) services, eight schools, three sports and recreation centres, and the menu offerings at Bendigo libraries.

To further support her council team, Rebecca began working alongside the City of Greater Bendigo’s Food Systems Officer, Chanel Relf, to advance the implementation of the new Healthy Facilities Policy. This policy aims to provide healthy, safe, and sustainable food and drink options in all council-owned, managed, or funded facilities and venues to promote the health and wellbeing of residents.

Rebecca offers free, hands-on support to Bendigo sports venues to facilitate policy changes and encourage fresh, healthy, and easy additions to their food and drink environment. This support complements her Advisor duties and helps embed the policy requirements in the community easily and effectively.

Uniting community partners

Rebecca saw an opportunity to support a more coordinated and collaborative approach to engaging settings to maximise the impacts of the various aligned healthy eating projects in the region. To unite efforts and create a space for coordinated endeavours, Rebecca now maintains two Communities of Practice: Food in Schools and Food in Sports.

“Before establishing these Communities of Practice, there was no mechanism for coordinating or collaborating across various initiatives," Rebecca said. "This could create confusion and engagement fatigue in the community and duplication of workforce activities. We needed a way to collaborate, leverage existing relationships and engagement, brainstorm challenges, and share learnings.”  

Food in Schools Communities of Practice

The Food in Schools Communities of Practice attend an online network meeting.

Members of the Food in Schools Community of Practice:

  • Linto Thomas, Director of Community Engagement at Regional Victorians of Colour
  • Chanel Relf, Food Systems Officer at City of Greater Bendigo
  • Sebastian Goscha, Health Promotion and Community Engagement Officer at Bendigo Community Health Services
  • Paul Macdonald, Education Officer, Resource Recovery and Education at City of Greater Bendigo
  • Cara Smith, Health Broker at Healthy Loddon Campaspe
  • Kristy Bennett, VLGP Officer and Connected Communities Officer – Early Years at the City of Greater Bendigo
  • Rebecca Fry, Healthy Kids Advisor — City of Greater Bendigo

Members of the Food in Sports Community of Practice:

  • Cara Smith, Health Broker at Healthy Loddon Campaspe
  • Chanel Relf, Food Systems Officer at City of Greater Bendigo
  • Crystie Ballard, Participation Officer at City of Greater Bendigo
  • Jasmine Noske, Project Coordinator – Program Delivery and Digital Communications at Sports Focus
  • Johanna Colquhourn, Population Health Officer at City of Greater Bendigo
  • Narelle Bickford, Graduate Researcher of Public Health Nutrition at Victoria University
  • Paul Goudie, Regional Coordinator (Loddon Mallee) – Community Infrastructure and Place at Sport and Recreation Victoria
  • Siobhan Sullivan, Senior Health Promotion and Community Engagement Officer at Bendigo Community Health Services
  • Rebecca Fry, Healthy Kids Advisor — City of Greater Bendigo

Since the first meeting in May 2022, relationships have strengthened between the health promotion workforce. There has been increased knowledge about what projects and initiatives are happening in the local government area, and a space has been created for reflection and learning. Members know they are not alone in overcoming common barriers and seeking out solutions. The collaboration has also helped consolidate and streamline communication with the schools and settings they work with on the ground — an excellent outcome for avoiding duplication and maximising reach.

Hands-on learning

A recent example of this collaborative strategy in action is the hands-on partnership between a council-owned recreation centre and a small sporting club.

Peter Krenz Leisure Centre is a major family destination in the region. Working with their Healthy Kids Advisor, Rebecca, they ran a community engagement initiative to ask centre visitors their preferences and ideas to help shape a new, healthy menu for their buzzing kiosk.

Nearby, White Hills Junior Football Club were participating in a healthy sports club project run by Healthy Loddon Campaspe (HLC). HLC share aligned goals with the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative and work with six local councils to encourage healthy eating and get ‘more people, more active, more often’.

The HLC Health Broker, Cara Smith, had connected with Rebecca as a member of the Food in Sport Community of Practice. Together, they decided a hands-on cooking demonstration at Peter Krenz Leisure Centre would provide real-life hints and healthy recipes that White Hills Junior Football Club could take back and share with their club.   

Since working with Rebecca, Peter Krenz Leisure Centre has adjusted its menu to include more local fresh produce and even freshly roasted coffee beans from a Bendigo business. They’ve adopted healthier food preparation routines, including air-frying chicken for their wraps and baking on-site tasty vegetable muffins and naturally sweetened banana bread.

Tamara Norden, the Customer Care Coordinator at Peter Krenz Leisure Centre, generously walked Lisa Meersbergen, the Secretary from White Hills Junior Football Club, through the new healthy food offerings, which have been a big hit with the local community. It’s exciting to see where this practical, friendly knowledge-sharing session will take them next.

About the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative 

The Healthy Kids Advisors initiative is delivered by the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and supported by the Victorian Government and Australian Government. 

This community engagement initiative is active in 13 priority communities to spread pleasurable food education and encourage participation in the state-wide Vic Kids Eat Well movement. 

In collaboration with local health promoters, Council and community, our Advisors offer free support and simple ideas to boost healthy and delicious food and drink in schools, sports clubs, after-hours care and council-run facilities. 

Want more information?

Visit the Healthy Kids Advisors news page or contact us at

Follow us

#HealthyKidsAdvisors, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn

< Back to Latest News