A two-part interactive workshop series for practitioners interested in healthy food retail initiatives hosted by The Centre for Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (RE-FRESH) has been rated very highly by participants.

More than 40 people from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and the ACT took part – with 96 per cent rating the first workshop on Wednesday, April 14, as an “excellent or good introduction to systems science”, and the second workshop on May 4 also held in high regard.

Part 1 of the two-part workshop series was guided by world-leading systems and healthy food retail experts and introduced the concepts and tools of ‘Systems Thinking’ and helped participants learn to apply this thinking to the planning, implementation and resourcing of healthy food retail interventions and policies. Part 2 built upon the initial skills and knowledge gained.

Participants came from local and state government, universities and health promotion organisations.

RE-FRESH researcher and systems thinking expert Tari Bowling, who is co-delivering the workshops, said building workforce capacity in this field was essential to addressing diet-related chronic illness.

“We know that moving food retailers in community settings towards healthier retail is essential to encouraging healthier diets for all Australians. These retail settings really are key gatekeepers for the types of food and drinks people consume in their community, so they present a huge opportunity to improve population health outcomes.

“We are pleased to be presenting information and working to develop tools to make this work evidence-based and best practice for on-the-ground practitioners, so they can achieve the greatest benefits for the communities they serve,” she said.

The participants are also providing input into the development of a practical, systems-based tool aimed at supporting health promotion practitioners to create healthy food retail environments in health services, sports and recreation settings, and local government settings.

These workshops are being facilitated by Tari Bowling, Dr Tara Boelsen-Robinson, Dr Jill Whelan, Carmen Vargas Ares, Dr Miranda Blake, Dr Meaghan Christian and Andrew Brown.

This workshop series was supported by Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation and seed funding from The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. The Prevention Centre is funded by the NHMRC, the Australian Government Department of Health, ACT Health, Cancer Council Australia, NSW Ministry of Health, Wellbeing SA, Tasmanian Department of Health, and VicHealth. The Prevention Centre is administered by the Sax Institute.



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