It’s time to assemble

The Latrobe Health Assembly is seeking community members motivated to improve the health and wellbeing of the region.

The assembly, tasked with planning for local health improvement in response to the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, is expected to be up and running by December.

Applications officially open Monday for those wishing to join.

The assembly’s initial chair, Professor John Catford, said the community-driven council was seeking “good representation across the whole Latrobe Valley community”.

The 40-plus person assembly is expected to meet regularly and run for about eight years as recommended by the inquiry, with member turnover every couple of years to “keep things fresh”.

Professor Catford said the group – the first of its kind in Australia – was an opportunity for the Valley to take control of its own health.

“The purpose of this is to improve health and wellbeing in the Valley. We want people who are motivated in that regard, people who have an interest in health but not necessarily the experience,” he said.

He said the assembly’s focus was “not a narrow view of health, but a broader view of health and wellbeing”.

“It’s a bit of a range. At one end it is people trying to improve services for people with complex health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes,” Professor Catford said.

“But then it’s ranging right through to how we can detect people earlier to get healthcare earlier, through to some of the prevention activities to reduce the risk of developing these health conditions in the first place.”

Professor Catford said while the assembly would look towards improving the quality of the region’s health services, it would also seek to create a healthier lifestyle through the promotion of physical activity and nutrition through community-based events.

But a broader goal of trying to build a “pride of place” was perhaps the most important.

“The Valley is a good place to live, bring up your family, to work and to retire,” Professor Catford said.

“We want to create an upbeat positive view of the Valley… do more to mobilise and encourage people to turn things around a bit from something that might be a bit gloom and doom.

“We can, by working together, make it a good place for everyone to live.”

Applications for the assembly open Monday for a three-week period. Successful applicants will be selected on their geographic and demographic suitability, along with any relevant skills and experiences.

Applications can be obtained by emailing or phoning Berry Street on 5134 5971 and asking for Daniel Mainville.

Assistance is available to those without internet access. Phone Mr Mainville on the above number for more details.