Tasmania’s towns to help rural Australians get up and be active

An online tool to support regional Australians to become more active will be developed and assessed in Tasmania before being rolled out nationally.

The project – a joint four-year collaboration between University of Tasmania, RMIT University, and Deakin University – is being funded by the NHMRC Medical Research Future Fund’s Preventative and Public Health Research Initiative to the tune of $571,000.

Researchers will measure walkability across 90 small towns in the state to develop an assessment tool to identify priority areas for action.

Chief investigator Associate Professor Verity Cleland, from the University of Tasmania, said the state was the ideal setting for this research as more residents live outside the capital city than any other state and because health outcomes are “among the worst in the country”.

“We know that many regional communities don’t have safe footpaths or appropriate street lighting to make walking or cycling viable choices for getting around or exercising, and less than half the adult population do the recommended daily amount of physical activity.

“Making it easier to walk places is common sense, especially when we know that rural and regional Australians do less physical activity than their city-based counterparts.”

“This funding gives us a fantastic opportunity to partner with the Tasmanian Department of Health and the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) and work with communities to help get them up and moving,” she said.