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How OPAL works

OPAL logo with colourful swirls

OPAL communities have an OPAL Council Manager based within the local council. The OPAL Council Manager works with a range of community groups – including schools, health services, council and private businesses.

Local committees work together to find out what the community wants and needs, and to help children and adults to be more active and make healthy eating choices. Sometimes, that might mean making better use of existing programs. Sometimes, it will mean getting everyone’s heads together to develop new programs. The result will be a community where it is easier for you and your family to live a healthy life.

Children running

What will an OPAL community look like?

Because OPAL is shaped by the community and its needs, the program will look different in each area. OPAL will work with communities to support and introduce a range of programs like:

  • community gardens where you can grow and share your own vegies and fruit
  • supermarkets that help you to make healthier food choices
  • good quality drinking water in public places
  • family day-care, schools and workplaces that promote healthy eating and physical activity programs
  • easy-to-use maps to find your local parks and playgrounds and safe ways to walk or cycle to work and school
  • sporting clubs that welcome beginners and parents
  • a walking club for new residents to get active and discover their new suburbs
  • family fun days to discover safe cycling paths in your local area.

Are you ready to get involved? OPAL belongs to you.

The OPAL Council Managers will be there to support and encourage positive changes in your community. To be involved contact them today.

The OPAL Approach

The aim of OPAL is to improve the eating and activity patterns of children, through families and communities in OPAL regions, thereby increasing the proportion of 0 to18 year olds in the healthy weight range.

OPAL is focused on six goals to bring about behavioural change across the community:

Eating well, which means:

  • healthy food choices available at food outlets
  • healthy meals produced in and from homes
  • local healthy food production, access and distribution.

Being active, which includes

  • active travel journeys
  • active leisure participation choices
  • use of parks, spaces and places.

These goals were determined by reviewing the best available obesity prevention evidence from around the world, specifically related to community based intervention.

The six goals are brought to life through annual social marketing themes, each focused on a single behaviour that is known to have a positive impact on healthy weight. Information and activities regarding each theme present a positive, encouraging approach to challenging the social norms and practices which support unhealthy behaviour.

Themes to date have been:

  • Introducing OPAL to the community
  • Water. The original cool drink: reducing sweetened beverage consumption
  • Give the screen a rest. Active play is best: reducing screen time in favour of active play
  • Make it a fresh snack: encouraging the use of core food group foods as snacks instead of energy dense, nutrient poor items.
  • Think Feet First – step, cycle, scoot to school: encouraging active travel.
  • Peel. Pour. Pop. A Healthy Breakfast is easy as: encouraging families to start the day with a healthy brekky.
  • Life Looks Brighter Outside: supporting families to enjoy time together through exploring local parks and playgrounds.

Additional themes will be rolled out over the life of the OPAL project.

The goals and themes are implemented through a set of seven strategies that, when applied in full, ensure a comprehensive approach to health promotion.

The seven strategies are:

  • to provide tailored healthy eating and physical activity programs and services
  • to undertake research, monitoring and evaluation that informs decision-making
  • to work with agencies and sectors to create coordination and partnerships around healthy eating and physical activity
  • to develop policy and plans that make healthy eating and physical activity the easy choice
  • to develop supportive environments that make healthy eating and physical activity the easy choice
  • to raise awareness about OPAL and the importance of healthy eating and physical activity
  • to provide education and training to raise knowledge and skills around healthy eating and physical activity.

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