Cardinia Shire snapshot
Cardinia Shire is located on the south-east fringe of metropolitan Melbourne, one of five designated growth areas under the State Government’s Melbourne 2030 plan. Pakenham, the Shire’s main urban centre, is 55 kilometres from Melbourne’s central business district, the furthest locality from the Melbourne CBD identified for urban growth. Unlike the majority of the local government areas encompassed in greater Melbourne, Cardinia Shire has a large rural population with 27 rural townships in addition to three townships designated for rapid urban growth along a railway line; giving it unique geographical features and service provision issues. The municipal boundaries encompass an area of 1,280 square kilometres, one eighth the size of metropolitan Melbourne.
Cardinia Shire is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia. Combined with the neighbouring growing municipality of Casey, this designated south-east growth sub-region is forecast to be home to more than half a million people by 2031 (Informed Decisions 2009). Approximately 75 per cent of Cardinia Shire’s population is forecast to reside in the designated growth area and the remaining 25 per cent to reside in the rest of the Shire (Informed Decisions 2009). During the four years of this plan alone, the population of these two municipalities will bypass that of Canberra (ABS 2007). See Appendix 1 for details of Cardinia Shire’s demographics.
It has been recognised that social inequalities influence health and that social class, material and geographical circumstances, all generate and maintain inequalities in health. The Victorian Burden of Disease Study (DHS SMR 2001) shows that although the overall health status of Victorians has improved over the past 20 years, it varies according to where people live. See Appendix 3.
Local governments are ideally placed to have a traditional geographical concern with people and place, which includes the local context of health, disease and social process.
“Recognition that place influences health can assist in redirecting attention to interventions at the environmental level, such as providing open spaces for healthy recreation, a pleasant and safe urban environment, improved public transport, and better housing stock” (DHS 2001a).
The burden of disease rates and national statistics for Cardinia Shire residents do not differ markedly from other municipalities. What differs in Cardinia Shire, and has serious and significant current and future implications, is Cardinia Shire residents’ ability to access the resources they need for their primary, secondary and tertiary health prevention and maintenance needs. The difference in access to those social determinants of health due to geography, financial and community infrastructure will make a significant difference to the health outcomes of Cardinia Shire residents in the short and long term.
While Cardinia Shire Council does not provide direct service provision of medical services and provides only limited allied health service provision, it is important for Council to be involved in the social determinants of health. Much of the work and activity undertaken by Council supports the development and maintenance of healthy communities using the social model of health.
Cardinia Shire’s population forecasts and demographic trends demonstrate the diversity of Cardinia Shire’s residents now and into the future. See Appendix 1. With the diversity of ages, household types and geographies, the MPHWP must take into consideration planning for all needs, and working towards the best solution for all residents.
The diversity of Cardinia Shire supports the need for strong advocacy for diverse local human and community services and the location of services within the municipality, rather than outreach services. In addition, forward planning is necessary to ensure the appropriate public health and wellbeing infrastructure (both physical and service capacity) is available to service the population throughout various stages and changes.
Cardinia Shire Council is committed to listening to its residents and as part of its engagement strategy undertakes regular consultations with its community. As part of the development process for this plan, Council reviewed the feedback it had received in past consultations to develop a list of themes and issues previously raised by the community.
Having identified themes and issues, the Social Determinants of Health and the Environments for Health frameworks were applied to determine which were relevant to health and wellbeing.
This information was combined to produce a survey which provided an opportunity for the community to prioritise its top three concerns. Approximately 2,300 surveys were mailed to a random sample of residents to work towards sampling all areas of the Shire. In addition, Council officers attended community events to canvass residents’ opinions and invited them to complete the survey. Council officers also networked through various Council business units’ community connections and associations (i.e. community groups and organisations) to try to reach as many residents as possible. More than 800 surveys were returned.
The survey rankings and comments from residents revealed some key trends.
People aged 60 and over in all areas of the Shire, but particularly those in smaller towns, ranked issues such as ‘getting around town’ (i.e. accessibility, footpaths), ‘public transport’ (i.e. lack thereof, infrequency of service and connections), ‘housing types’ (such as the need for housing for different life stages), ‘food security’ (inability to afford food, lack of access to fresh food sources) and ‘isolation’ as key points.
Young people who responded (aged 24 and under) had similar concerns to the over 60 group, when it came to public transport and housing types, but were also concerned about ‘local employment’ (lack of availability, access) options.
For those in the demographic age range of raising families, ranked concerns included playgrounds (i.e. maintenance, availability) and lack of tertiary education options. Interestingly, public transport and concerns around isolation were also raised as issues.
In addition to external community consultation an Internal Steering Group was established in Council. This group was responsible for developing the plan and providing input into health and wellbeing issues that may need to be considered from a professional perspective.
Members of the group were chosen from across Council’s business units where work areas impacted on the health and wellbeing of the Shire’s residents. These business units include:
- Assets and Development
- Community Services
- Community Strengthening
- Corporate Business Alignment
- Engineering Services
- Strategic Planning
- Sustainable Communities
- Sustainable Environment.
To ensure a holistic consultation process occurred, the survey was distributed to various organisations and networks with which Council works on a regular basis. More than 40 organisations responded to the survey.