Active Launceston turns 10!

Published on 17 October 2018

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On its 10th birthday, Active Launceston celebrates its unprecedented success and reflects on the agility required to maintain funding for 10 years.

Active Launceston is a community driven project that provides free physical activity programs and events and supports new and existing physical activity businesses, services and organisations to connect with their community; improving health, social and economic outcomes. Project founder and ongoing project manager Lucy Byrne of Healthy Tasmania Pty Ltd said she was overwhelmed by the personal stories, research outcomes and the community-wide impacts of Active Launceston, however acknowledges it has been a labour of love to keep it going. “Active Launceston is an evidence-based, fully evaluated program that is repairing the three biggest problems Tasmania has right now; providing jobs and boosting local businesses, keeping people well and out of hospital and improving education and health literacy,” Mrs Byrne said. “The people behind the funding can see the obvious benefits, however it the funding structures that require a lot of attention. We’ve had to keep continually changing and innovating to keep the money flowing in, despite its success.” Mrs Byrne says while the statistics speak for themselves, it’s the personal stories that maintain her passion for the project.

“Looking back through the photos it’s just incredible how many people’s lives have changed because of their involvement with Active Launceston. It’s so much more than Yoga in the park,” Mrs Byrne said. “There are people like Gus who we supported to start his small business and he’s now gone on to become a board member of his local neighbourhood house.  There are others like Tina, who came along to our programs, met new people, found her confidence and ended up speaking about the program at a conference. “I often think about a gentleman who told us he loved coming to our dancing program because it gave him a reason to get out of the house, get dressed up, be part of his community and gave him something to tell his family when they rang each week. “The benefits are so much bigger than simply getting people active. Part of its success is that Active Launceston is not about kale smoothies or running marathons, it’s about breaking down barriers that stop people from living healthy lives, then supporting them to do whatever activity works for them.”

Active Launceston was developed in 2008 as a community-driven partnership with the vision of improving the health and wellbeing of the Launceston community through physical activity. It began through a partnership between The University of Tasmania, the City of Launceston and the State Government. The funding structures have changed many times over the years with the City of Launceston being the only ongoing and current funder. City of Launceston Mayor Albert Van Zetten said that the benefits that Active Launceston has in the community are not only obvious but crucial. “The project is a proven economic multiplier for our city. It sustains and grows local businesses, improves the social dynamics of our community and, at a time when the health system is under huge pressure, it’s helping our community members form healthy habits that keep them well and out of hospital,” Mayor van Zetten said “Active Launceston has this great ability to target community members who need them most. It connects people with the existing services and businesses that they may not have otherwise known about or felt confident enough to access.

“I’ve seen people come out the other side with a new-found confidence that is life-changing. It’s not just another project, it’s an essential service for our community which is why the City of Launceston has been such a strong supporter”.

Mrs Byrne said the project nearly ended many times as funding structures do not favour established programs. “At times, we’ve gone from running 200 sessions a year to just 32, which can make it tricky to keep the community momentum going as you spend a lot of time going over old ground, but even still, the results are worth it,” Mrs Byrne said. Research undertaken by the Menzies Institute in 2015 confirmed Active Launceston was an “economic multiplier” for the city with a return on investment of $257 per participant. It found that sufficient activity for health significantly increased by 7.2 percentage points.

Other Active Launceston facts:

  • Active Launceston has been the subject of higher degree research with the results published in peer-reviewed literature,
  • The research has been presented at two international conferences,
  • Provided leadership opportunities and placements for 93 university students,
  • Won 9 community awards,
  • Attracted close to two million dollars in funding
  • Has an estimated cost benefit of $416 per participant
  • Has a return on investment of $257 per participant
  • 223 community programs;
  • Total attendance of 32,857
  • 40,787 hours of physical activity
  • Benefit to the community? Priceless!

The Active Launceston team is working to secure more funding partners to return the program to its full capacity.  Until then, Active Launceston will run a paired back program and is launching four new activities over Spring and Summer. 

Spring 2018

Active Parks: A variety of activities and challenges to improve fitness, flexibility and muscle strength. Fun and Fitness makes great use of the vibrant and versatile Inveresk precinct and is an easy way to start living a healthier life. 17 October to 5 December, Wednesdays 5.45-6.45pm Inveresk Precinct.

Get Your body started: Low impact activities designed for those who are currently doing little or no physical activity and those that want to start living a healthier lifestyle. 18 October to 6 December, Thursdays 10.45-11.30am, Starting Point Neighbourhood House, Ravenswood.

Summer 2019

Active and Alive: Hang out with Luke from the YMCA team who will deliver a variety of fun and challenging games and activities to test your confidence and team work. Be challenged by their ninja obstacle courses or perhaps jumping on mini tramps is your thing? 12 February to 2 April, Tuesdays, 4-5pm, Starting Point Neighbourhood House, Ravenswood.

Active Armchairs: Low impact activities designed for anyone doing little or no physical activity. Active Armchairs will include a variety of exercise that can be done in your armchair at home. 13 February to 3 April, Wednesdays 11.15am- 12pm, Northern Suburbs Community Centre, Newnham.

For more details, please contact: Lucy Byrne 0409 937 421 or Penny Terry 0437 817 465