Definitions and Key Concepts

Active transport: Human-powered forms of travel such as walking, cycling and public transport. (1) [Journeys by public transport are also considered active forms of transport as they often elicit walking to transit stops at the beginning of the journey and to destinations at the end].

Carbon footprint: A measure of the impact on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

Corporate plan: A council’s overall vision and plan for all aspects of its operation, usually for a five-year period.

Food: The term food used throughout this resource refers to both food and drinks/beverages unless otherwise specified.

Healthy eating: Consumption of foods that make a substantial contribution towards providing a range of nutrients, have an appropriate nutrition density, and are compatible with the overall aims of the Australian Dietary Guidelines. (2)

Local laws: Laws adopted by a council that reflect community needs and ensure the good rule and governance of the area.

Nutrition: All factors which are part of, or influence, the food system and population eating habits and behaviours including:

  • food production – primary food production, agricultural land and gardens
  • food processing, distribution and access, retail mix and accessibility, distance and transport to shops, food availability in shops and at events, drinking water fountains
  • food consumption, food prices, quality and variety, food knowledge, skills and preferences, storage, preparation and cooking facilities
  • food marketing and promotion signage (including directional and billboards), vending machines and sponsorships
  • nutrition-related services and facilities, parenting rooms and facilities, nutrition education programs, community kitchen facilities and programs. (3,4)

Operational plan: How the council will apply its resources to achieve the corporate plan strategies in a specific year.

Physical activity: All movement in everyday life, including work, recreation, exercise and sporting activities. It can include:

  • active recreation, for example bush walking, skateboarding, surfing
  • sport, for example netball, soccer, volleyball
  • dance, for example line dancing, ballet, ballroom dancing
  • exercise, for example strength training, balance exercises, Tai Chi and flexibility activities
  • active play, for example using playground equipment, skipping
  • active living, physical activity is integrated into everyday life, for example using the stairs, energetic housework, gardening and energetic occupational activities
  • active transport, for example walking to public transport and walking or cycling to locations. (5)


Passive recreation area: A passive recreation area refers a mix of uses in a neighbourhood park, undeveloped land or minimally improved lands which includes landscaped area, natural area, ornamental garden, non-landscaped greenspace, stairway, decorative fountain, picnic area, water body or trail without recreational staffing.

Planning scheme: A legal instrument that sets out the provisions for land use, development and protection.

Recreation activities: Activities people undertake for enjoyment in their own free time, are not based on formal competition or organised administration and lack of a formal set of rules.

Supportive environments: Environments that enable and encourage healthy lifestyle behaviours as part of daily activity. It covers the natural and built environment, as well as the social, political and cultural environment. (6)

Travel behavioural change: Implementing strategies that encourage people to reduce their car use by thinking about how and why they use cars and the benefits of choosing alternative, more sustainable modes of transport.

Unhealthy foods: foods and drinks that are high in fat, and/or salt, and/or sugar and low in micronutrients and as such are energy dense and nutrient poor. The Australian Dietary Guidelines classifies these foods as ‘discretionary’ foods. (2)

Walkable neighourhood: A walkable neighbourhood is one where it is easy and safe to walk to goods and services (i.e., grocery stores, post offices, health clinics, etc.). Walkable communities encourage pedestrian activity, expand transportation options, and have safe and inviting streets that serve people with different ranges of mobility. (7)


  1. Litman, T. 2003, ‘Integrating public health objectives in transportation decision-making’, The Science of Health Promotion, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 103-108.
  2. National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.
  3. Yeatman, H. 1998, National Review of Food and Nutrition Activities in Local Government, University of Wollongong.
  4. Yeatman, H. 2003, ‘Food and nutrition policy at the local level: key factors that influence the policy development process’, Critical Public Health, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 125-138.
  5. World Health Organization 2004, Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, WHO Technical Report Series 916, World Health Organization, Geneva.
  6. Schmid, T.L., Pratt, M., Witmer, L. 2006, ‘A framework for physical activity policy research’, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, vol. 3, s20-s29.
  7. Federal Highway Administration, 2008, A resident’s guide for creating safe and walkable communities, [Online] Available at: