By Kim Sykes, CEO,

Bendigo Community Health Services

I hope that you are warm, comfortable and well while reading our first BCHS quarterly newsletter.

We’ve some exciting times ahead as we strive to deliver our new Strategic Directions, including making a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of those living with disadvantage and sharing more with you about what we do and listening to your ideas about how we can do it better.

This great city is a fabulous place in which to live, but not for everyone. We have people living in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country. And we have very strong evidence that this greatly increases the risk of poor health outcomes.

Not only are people from very low income families more likely to die earlier, they are more likely to spend a lot more of their years living with a disability.

They also have a much greater chance of dropping out of school, not being able to get a job, or getting only poorly paid work, eating poorly, turning to alcohol or drugs and being in trouble at school or with police.

This kind of future shouldn’t be determined by how much your Mum or Dad earns but we have generations of people living in pockets of the City of Greater Bendigo where this is the case. Good people watching their kids grow without the opportunities and hopes most of us take for granted.

We’ve got to change that path and we can.

Very targeted programs and a real focus to address health inequity can make generational change, especially programs designed for children.

This will take effort from many and BCHS is determined to make this a priority.

Our new Kidzspace will have an important role to play in ensuring that all kids have the chance of a healthy start.