Local government is ideally placed to develop, lead and implement local policies to influence many determinants of health. These policies include actions in areas such as transport, roads, parks, waste, land use, housing and urban planning, recreation and cultural activities and creating safe public places.
Local government is also a major employer in many communities (refer to guidance for workplaces).
Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, local councils are required to protect, improve and promote public health and wellbeing within their municipality and prepare a municipal public health and wellbeing plan (MPHWP) every four years. They also have a role in the regulation of safety barriers for pools and spas under the Building Regulations 2018.
Local government has a broad role in health promotion, the provision of health services such as immunisation, early childhood services, services and programs for older people and other services such as libraries.
Local government is encouraged to use the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit's Injury Atlas of Victoria, when planning local injury prevention initiatives. The injury Atlas is an online data tool which provides de-identified hospital treated unintentional injury data for government, community organisations and the Victorian community in an accessible format. An up to date web browser is required.
Evidence-based actions that local government can take on reducing injury in the community include:
Prioritise the needs of vulnerable community members and road users when planning and designing neighbourhoods and public places
Falls are the leading cause of injury in Victoria. Falls made up around half of all injury related hospital admissions and 77 per cent of injury admissions among older adults in 2017-2018. The built environment has a major influence on the ability of older people, people with disabilities and children, to move around independently. Local government has an important role to play in enabling older people to remain physically active and independent and ensuring neighbourhoods and public places are accessible for people with disability.
Age-friendly environments enable older people to remain independent and healthy and reduce the need for support services. For example, pavements and footpaths are smooth, level and non-slip, sufficient in width with clearance from obstructions. Pedestrian crossings are safe, places are designed for accessibility and include places to sit, safe walkways and cycle paths, and appropriate public toilets.
Pedestrians and cyclists are at increased risk of transport-related injury on local roads due to their lack of physical protection. Prioritising vulnerable road users in the design of local roads will reduce transport-related injuries, while supporting people to adopt active modes of transport.
- Plan and design age friendly cities, to enable active aging.
- Incorporate universal design principles when designing public buildings and spaces to ensure safety and accessibility for everyone regardless of age, ability or disability.
- Partner with local schools to develop safe routes to school and address local traffic hazards.
- Improve movement networks to allow all people to travel safely, prioritise walking, cycling and public transport.
- Ensure public areas, such as play equipment and sporting grounds, promote physical safety and conduct regular checks to identify risks or hazards.
Resources on this topic include:
- Injury Atlas of Victoria and the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) data request service, Monash University Accident Research Centre
- Age-friendly Cities and Communities, information kit for local government councillors and senior management, the Council of the Aging and the Municipal Association of Victoria
- Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide, World Health Organisation
- Healthy Active by design, Heart Foundation
- Developing a walking strategy: a guide for councils, Victoria Walks
- Bicycle Infrastructure Design, VicRoads
- Community Road Safety Grants, VicRoads
- Universal Design guidelines/principles, Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority
- Design for Everyone Guidelines, Sport and Recreation Victoria
- Playground safety and other resources, Kidsafe Victoria
- Community Safety Special Interest Group, LGPro
- Victorian Safe Communities Network (VSCN) resources and guidance material to support Local Government Areas wishing to gain 'International Safe Community' accreditation
Provide a range of local initiatives which target injury prevention priorities for different groups and whole of community initiatives
Unintentional injuries are broad ranging, encompassing falls, transport injuries, burns, and drownings. Targeted strategies are appropriate to respond to local needs and community priorities.
Child injury prevention activities could include, awareness raising around child injury prevention issues or ensuring playground equipment promotes physical safety.
Injury prevention activities for older adults could include activities undertaken in partnership with community organisations or local health services, for example the provision of exercise groups for older people or fostering linkages between support services for older people and local healthcare providers.
Evidence informed actions which contribute to falls prevention in older adults.
- initiatives which provide opportunities for older adults to participate in physical activity including:
- providing age-friendly walking paths
- partnering with community organisations to provide appropriate exercise classes for older adults, for example, strength based training or Tai Chi
- partnering with NARI (National Ageing Research Institute) to provide the Seniors Exercise Park
- partnering with community organisations, or healthcare providers to deliver falls prevention programs
- fostering linkages between home-based support services for older people and local healthcare providers and ensuring mechanisms exist to facilitate referrals of clients where required to support their independence.
Evidence informed child injury prevention initiatives could include:
- partnering with Kidsafe to provide Kidsafe's community outreach program
- using Kidsafe resources to share injury prevention information or partnering with Kidsafe to run a local child injury prevention awareness campaign
- ensure play equipment promotes physical safety and conduct regular checks to identify risks or hazards.
Resources on this topic include:
- Age-friendly Cities and Communities, information kit for local government councillors and senior management, Council of the Aging
- Victorian Active Aging Partnership (VAAP) self-assessment tool and resources, Musculoskeletal Australia
- 'Enjoy' Trial - Seniors Exercise Parks, National Ageing Research Institute
- Loddon Mallee Region Move It, Macedon Ranges Shire Council on behalf of Loddon Mallee Group of Councils
- Active Aging Program, Wyndham city council
- Living Longer Living Stronger Providers, Council on the Ageing
- Preventing Falls and Harm from Falls in Older People: Best practice guidelines for Australian Community Care, Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Healthcare
- Kidsafe resources including home safety and playground safety, Kidsafe Victoria
- Pool safety, Life Saving Victoria