FAST and Deadly Tucker: Sunshine Coast Council healthy lifestyle programs

Click here to download printable PDF for this case study.

The Sunshine Coast Council is committed to providing healthy and active lifestyle opportunities to all communities in the Sunshine Coast region, and in particular the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on the Sunshine Coast. The Fitness and Sports Training (FAST) and Deadly Tucker programs were delivered by the council in partnership with the North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH). The programs were designed to promote healthy lifestyle behaviours among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. The FAST program was funded through the Australian Government Healthy Communities Initiative and the NCACCH, while the Deadly Tucker program was funded by the Queensland Government and the NCACCH.

The Sunshine Coast has many sites of cultural significance to the Gubbi Gubbi people and the Jinibara people. Today, the region is home to 4589 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 302,320 other Australians (Census 2011). The region’s pristine beaches, freshwater rivers and lakes and subtropical forests make it one of Australia’s premier tourist destinations.

Image 1

Good practice

The FAST and Deadly Tucker programs demonstrated:

  • the importance of strong partnerships between council and non-government organisations serving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the community
  • collaboration between Queensland councils to share resources and expertise
  • innovative approaches to increasing employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, and using these outcomes to enhance community participation in healthy lifestyles
  • the value of family-based interventions which support the whole family in healthy lifestyle choices and increase engagement in active and healthy programs
  • recognition of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and values through the use of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander facilitator, and the design of
    culturally appropriate activities.

Fitness and Sports Training (FAST)

The FAST program provided training and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete accredited training (Certificate III and IV level) in fitness and personal
training, with a view to participants gaining employment or starting a business in the fitness industry. The program—which ran from March to September 2012—was based on similar programs developed by Whitebeech Consulting for Cherbourg and Caboolture. It was developed to improve the skills of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to deliver physical activity and healthy lifestyle programs targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. The program cost approximately $4000 per participant.

What we did

  • Called for expressions of interest from community members through NCACCH.
  • Interviewed and selected eight participants ranging from 17 to 24 years old.
  • Ran a two month intensive (five days per week) training course at a local gym delivered by a registered training organisation.
  • Mentored participants and provided support in developing business and marketing skills.
  • Networked with local businesses to identify opportunities for traineeships and work experience.

What we achieved

  • Five participants completed the accredited training and two participants are nearing completion.
  • Participants developed relationships and networks in the fitness industry.
  • Secured traineeships for two participants with a health care organisation and an exercise physiologist.
  • Participants reported increased self-esteem and confidence, an intent to pursue further studies in business management and a desire to give back to the community.
  • Provided opportunities for employment for four participants in other healthy lifestyle programs, such as the Deadly Tucker program.

What we learnt

  • Elements critical to the success of the program included the partnership with the local Aboriginal health organisation and a dedicated NCACCH physical activity officer, who helped identify barriers to participation and appropriate solutions.
  • Costs associated with daily travel to the venue and purchasing food are key barriers for participants.
  • Need to be flexible in the program’s timing and delivery to allow for major events in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community that may impact on attendance.
  • Need to consider costs of registering as a fitness professional and obtaining insurance so that participants can enter the fitness industry following completion of training.

Deadly Tucker program

The Deadly Tucker program is an after school, family-based program that teaches healthy cooking skills and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander games and dance in a social environment. Parents participate in cooking classes to develop skills and knowledge in food preparation, cooking, nutrition and budgeting and school-aged children participate in physical activities including traditional games, dance, active games and physical theatre. Childcare is proved for babies and toddlers and a weekly newsletter provides recipes for each cooking class which are then collated into a recipe book at the end of the program. The program is based on the Cairns Regional Council’s Carrot on a Stick healthy eating and physical activity program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The program costs an average of $6000 for the seven weeks.

What we did

  • Liaised with Cairns Regional Council to develop the program and train Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander facilitators in the concepts of family healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Delivered a pilot project at Bli Bli State School.
  • Evaluated the pilot program with the assistance of University of Sunshine Coast public health students.
  • Delivered the Deadly Tucker program at Golden Beach State School, Burnside State School and Pomona State School for 2.5 hours on one day a week over seven weeks.
  • Provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander facilitators with support to develop their interest and skills in cooking and nutrition.

What we achieved

  • Participation in the Deadly Tucker programs consisted of 6 families in the pilot project at Bli Bli, 15 families in the Golden Beach program, 16 families in the Burnside program and 7 families in the Pomona program.
  • Participants reported that they had developed skills and knowledge in healthy cooking and eating.
  • All participants reported increased social connectedness.
  • All participants reported an increased awareness of the health services and programs available to them either through Sunshine Coast Council’s Active, Healthy Sunshine Coast initiative or Queensland Health.
  • Children learnt about their culture by participating in physical activities which incorporated cultural aspects including traditional Indigenous games and dances.
  • Children learnt about the local history of the Gubbi Gubbi people from traditional custodians.
  • Support for whole family involvement and development of a shared language around healthier lifestyles within the family.

What we learnt

  • The important role of school-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community advisers and liaison officers in promoting the program and encouraging participation.
  • The importance of understanding and observing cultural protocols for traditional activities such as dance.
  • The need to address the barrier of childcare to encourage attendance by adult participants.

 What we are planning to do next

  • Explore opportunities to conduct further FAST programs in partnership with NCACCH.
  • Provide extended assistance and mentoring to participants of the FAST program.
  • Follow up evaluation activities to improve program design and outcomes.
  • Explore opportunities to conduct Deadly Tucker programs with a focus on more disadvantaged areas of our region where poor health outcomes are more prevalent.
  • Explore participation of families in the Deadly Tucker program from different schools at one site.

What you can do

  • Consult with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to explore opportunities to jointly establish programs designed to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the community.
  • Consider the relationship between health and wellbeing and other issues, such as access to employment in the community, and develop programs that may address these broader needs.


Council project contact:

Kylie Finigan
Healthy Communities Co-ordinator
Community Development
Sunshine Coast Council
T: 07 5449 5109