Bendigo Community Health Services has launched an Australian-first Community Connections project which uses community relationships help to design and deliver better services.

Community Connections will allow BCHS to create or improve services and programs to meet the needs of our community and support people to make a positive difference to health and wellbeing.

The core strength of Community Connections is empowering the community to help identify problems and solutions by building a trusted relationship that allows BCHS to talk with, listen and learn from local people.

Community Connections has started with a focus on three streams – alcohol and drugs, dementia, child and family. The alcohol and drugs stream is developing and evaluating a peer-mentoring program to allow participants to learn how to achieve the best recovery possible and make behavioural change.

The child and family stream is establishing relationships to help BCHS create an integrated children’s health and wellbeing centre called kidzspace at our Kangaroo Flat site and design the service model.

The dementia stream is learning about the experiences of sufferers and their carers with community-based health services to identify the changes needed to make BCHS a truly dementia friendly organisation.

BCHS developed Community Connections based on the experiences of Joseph Rowntree Foundation UK community development worker Tracey Robbins, pictured, who used ground breaking community engagement ideas to research loneliness.

Ms Robbins used the unconventional approach of standing in the street with a temporary washing line to engage people in conversation about loneliness and trained volunteers to research their own neighbourhoods to learn more about the causes.

The work led to the introduction of film clubs, walking clubs, befriending schemes, cultural markets, smile campaigns and community theatre clubs – all designed to beat loneliness. Ms Robbins trained more than 20 BCHS staff in her community-based engagement approach to ensure the success of Community Connections. 

For more information 

Rod Case
Director of Media and Communications
Bendigo Community Health Services

171 Hargreaves Street
Bendigo, Vic 3550

Tel: 5448 1600
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