Camp Wellbeing: Tablelands Regional Council healthy lifestyle activities

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The Tablelands Regional Council is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of communities across the Tablelands region. Wellbeing Tablelands, funded until June 2014 under the Australian Government’s Healthy Communities Initiative, aims to reduce the prevalence of overweight, obesity and chronic diseases—such as diabetes and heart disease—by building the community’s capability to improve their lifestyle and wellbeing.

An innovative program under Wellbeing Tablelands is the Camp Wellbeing program. Camp Wellbeing is a locally developed program designed to build healthy lifestyle activities, including a love of camping. Every three months, a three-day camp is held at Tinaroo Dam for those community members most at risk of developing chronic disease. Through enjoyable recreational experiences, the camps provide participants with the knowledge and confidence to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Participants have opportunities to learn about preparing, gathering and cooking nutritious food, and can engage in a range of physical activities, such as bushwalking, swimming and rock climbing. Professional providers such as Community Support Services and Queensland Health support the camp program by engaging participants, providing health checks and information sessions. Camp Wellbeing has evolved to include day visitors from Tablelands agencies and services that work directly with disengaged and at-risk clients to take part in community capacity-building and creating strong, sustainable partnerships.

Located in Far North Queensland, the Tablelands region is 64,768 km2 of diverse landscapes, including world heritage rainforests and crater lakes, expansive savannahs and wetlands, and rural and agricultural farming. Its population of 43,727 people (Census 2011) are dispersed across the region, in small communities and towns such as Atherton, Mareeba, Ravenshoe and Kuranda.

Good practice

Camp Wellbeing demonstrates:

  • a partnership approach to the delivery of successful and sustainable physical activity and healthy eating programs
  • social inclusion and a focus on building the capacity of families to drive lifestyle changes
  • the importance of building on a community’s common interests when developing healthy lifestyle programs
  • that effectively engaging community members most at risk of chronic disease requires partnerships with key service providers.
  • the importance of building trust and reciprocal relationships, as well as respecting the needs and aspirations of participants.

Tablelands - Camp Wellbeing photo

What we have done so far

  •  Developed the three-day Camp Wellbeing in conjunction with services, agencies and the target group to design a sustainable program that builds capacity and delivers positive outcomes for participants.
  • Allocated funding to support the delivery of camps at Tinaroo Dam every three months.
  • Promoted Wellbeing Tablelands and Camp Wellbeing at community events and festivals such as the Mareeba Rodeo, Taste of the Tablelands and Deadly Day Out.
  • Worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, service providers from the youth and housing sectors, and organisations supporting the unemployed to create referral pathways for clients to become camp participants.
  • Identified staffing needs for the camp and obtained agreement from service providers to participate and provide supervision at the camps.
  • Developed a selection process involving nomination of attendees by service providers and approval by a selection panel to ensure a diverse mix of participants.
  • To date, Camp Wellbeing has been held five times between October 2012 and July 2013, involving 120 participants and 15 partnerships with service providers. Participant feedback resulted in the camp being extended to four days from October 2013.
  • Established a camping gear and recreation library for participants to access and use at their convenience.

What we hope to achieve

  • Increased community awareness of the importance of maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle.
  • Improved family cohesion and empowering participants in life skills through camping activities.
  • Increased confidence of families to go camping at their convenience.
  • Greater awareness of support systems and services available to participants.
  • Greater appreciation by community service providers of the broader social and emotional benefits of educating their clients to adopt a healthier lifestyle

What we have learnt so far

  • Camping is the most common recreational activity for people in the region.
  • A number of people don’t go camping as they lack basic skills and confidence, which has been compounded by poor access to a vehicle and camping equipment.
  • Partnering with existing service providers increases effectiveness of identifying at-risk community members.
  • Timeliness of program delivery depends on community capacity.
  • It is essential to understand the importance of culture, family and country to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander families.

What we are planning to do next

  • Use results from the evaluation conducted by James Cook University to improve and refine Wellbeing Tablelands and its specific programs, such as Camp Wellbeing.


What you can do

  • Know your Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander community and understand their history.
  • Engage with the community early and tap into popular community interests and trends to establish new programs.
  • Establish a camping resource library so camp participants can access equipment and continue being active.
  • Provide a transport service for those families who do not have vehicles to access community activities.
  • Actively engage key service providers in programs to leverage their existing relationships with community members.

Council project contact:

Shiralee McHardie
Healthy Communities Coordinator
Community Services Section
Customer and Community Services Group
Tablelands Regional Council
T: 07 4043 4111
M: 0408 116 499
Cassie Burness
Project Officer —Wellbeing Tablelands Project
Tablelands Regional Council
T: 07 4043 4000
M: 0407 783 745
For more information go to Tablelands Sport & Recreation.
Tablelands Regional CouncilWellbeing Tablelands - Logo 14-05-13
 Tablelands Regional Council - Logo Standard (W)
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