Victorian Active Ageing Partnership eNewsletter - Edition 4

VAAP Update

image year 2
Year Two of VAAP is under way

Year Two of the VAAP is underway with a range of major initiatives, including the following:

Self-assessment Tool and Resources

A self-assessment and resources tool (SaTR), based on the evidence-based best practice framework for the engagement of older people in physical activity, is being developed by a Working Group consisting of:

  • Lucinda Archer, Active Adults Coordinator, Maroondah Leisure Centre
  • Anna Brown, Community Program Officer, Leisure Networks
  • Darren Cunningham, Positive Ageing Officer, Melton City Council
  • Tom Dixon, Participation Strategy Manager, VicSport
  • Katie Goodrope, Southern Metro Regional Diversity Adviser, Community Services, Bayside City Council
  • Robyn Grant, Team Leader Chronic Disease Prevention & Management, Sunbury Community Health Service
  • Maureen McConnell, Networker, Community Houses Association of the Outer Eastern Suburbs Inc.
  • Elsie Mutton, President of U3A Network Victoria and Course Administrator and Vice-President, U3A Nunawading
  • Richard Stone, Manager Capacity, Access and Inclusion, Warrnambool City Council
  • Carol Syer, Dry Programs Coordinator, Monash Aquatic and Recreation Centre
  • Clint Wilkie, Team Leader, Population Health, Caulfield Community Health Service

Ms Sarah Yallop from the Department of Health and Human Services and members of the VAAP Coordination Team are also involved in the Working Group. It is planned to undertake a structured consultation regarding a draft version of the SaTR with broader stakeholders during April–May.

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Examining issues around ‘hard to reach’ groups of older people

This study is being undertaken to gather evidence that can be used to improve the design of physical activity programs, and the capacity of activity providers, to achieve higher levels of program participation by disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. Older people of primary interest in this study are those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, who have a disability, are from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background, or are socially isolated. 

The questions guiding the study are:

  • What are the significant barriers to participation in organised PA for different sub-groups of disadvantaged older people?
  • What strategies facilitate contact with and attendance at physical activity programs by disadvantaged older people?  
  • How should physical activity programs be designed and delivered to enable ongoing participation by disadvantaged older people?   
  • What capacities are required by group facilitators and organisational providers to successfully engage disadvantaged older people? 

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Transition and referral pathways

This initiative will aim to examine existing pathways governing the transition of older people from a formal, supervised program to independent community-based exercise to determine the features and factors which act as enablers and barriers to their operation and the achievement of their desired outcomes. It will focus on the level of transition from sub-acute services to other community-based facilities and possibly on the transition from community health services to other community-based opportunities (e.g. fitness/leisure centres).

VAAP Research and Practice Forum 2017

In 2017, the VAAP Research and Practice Forum will be held between 9.15am–4.00pm on Thursday 24 August. It will be held at Rydges Hotel on Exhibition St in central Melbourne (N.B. This is a different venue and more spacious than last year’s venue).

The overall purpose of the Forum is to improve the knowledge and capacity of relevant service providers to successfully engage older people in physical activity opportunities. The specific objectives of the 2017 Forum will be to provide attendees with:

  • An increased awareness of equity issues in relation to older people and physical activity
  • An increased knowledge and awareness of some strategies and tools (e.g. VAAP ‘hard to reach’ study; self-assessment tool and resources; transition pathways key features) to assist them in their engagement of older people in physical activity
  • An increased knowledge and awareness of approaches used to engage specific groups of older people
  • An opportunity to meet other service providers involved/interested in the provision of physical activity opportunities for older people
  • Examples of partnership approaches to enhance the provision of physical activity opportunities for older people

Continuous professional development accreditation will be sought from relevant professional associations such as Physical Activity Australia and Fitness Australia.

To register your interest in attending the 2017 VAAP Research and Practice Forum, please register here. You can also indicate your interest in presenting at the Forum on the work your organisation is doing with older adults and physical activity.

Further details regarding attendance arrangements and program details will be available in the coming months.

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Health assessment and physical activity

As an adjunct to the VAAP, Monash University and MOVE will be undertaking a project examining current practice around the health assessment of older people prior to their participation in organised physical activity in Victoria. 

The aims of the project are:

  • To examine current practice around pre-exercise screening and/or the requirement for medical clearance of older adults prior to their participation in organised physical activity, i.e. group-based or prescribed (individually tailored and supervised) exercise
  • To review the literature regarding the use of pre-exercise screening and/or the requirement for medical clearance of older adults prior to their participation in organised physical activity  
  • To examine the views of older people regarding these processes and the impact on participation and/or the intention to participate in organised physical activity.

The project will provide an understanding of current practice around pre-exercise screening and/or the requirement for medical clearance of older adults prior to their participation in organised physical activity and will make recommendations about any appropriate follow-up actions.

Stakeholder spotlight

Sunbury health centre photo
Transitioning clients to a gym made easy

At the beginning of 2016, the strength exercise group programs being run at Sunbury Community Health Service (CHS) were at maximum capacity. The staff noticed that many of their group exercise clients were ready to take the next step in their pursuit of independence with their weekly exercise routines. The growing demand for Sunbury CHS group exercise services meant that the staff had to make transition pathways to community exercise initiatives a primary focus.

Realising the need for a stronger local gym partnership to be developed, Sunbury CHS organised a meeting with the gym instructors and management staff at Sunbury Aquatic and Leisure Centre (SALC). They discussed the COTA ‘Living Longer, Living Stronger’ program that was offered at SALC every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11.00am – 12.30pm. 

After the Sunbury CHS staff consulted with some of their clients, it was clear that Sunbury CHS needed a gym-based transition option which offered:

  • Affordable ‘casual’ gym rates and short-term memberships
  • An inclusive, friendly environment
  • A diverse demographic – people of all ages and sizes attending the gym
  • Helpful gym instructors/support staff (e.g. ‘I am confident to ask the staff for assistance.’)
  • Easy-to-use exercise equipment 
  • Well maintained exercise equipment, with the gym floor and walkways clear of hazards (such as free weights and exercise equipment)

After seeing SALC’s ‘Living Longer, Living Stronger’ program in action, it was clear that all of these needs could be met. 

SALC are now happy for the exercise physiologists at Sunbury CHS to develop an exercise program for their clients and take them through the program at the SALC gym. This has helped to reduce anxiety and increase confidence when entering an unknown environment for the first time. SALC gym instructors are also in regular contact with Sunbury CHS exercise physiologists with regards to their transitioned clients’ attendance and general progress.

Since early 2016, Sunbury CHS has transitioned over 30 clients to SALC, with six week follow-up phone calls indicating that 71% have been motivated to attend SALC’s ‘Living Longer, Living Stronger’ program at least once a week.

The next step in the partnership between Sunbury CHS and SALC is to look at whether the former can offer training for the gym instructors and fitness staff. Examples of such training would include workshops on safe exercise guidelines for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Sunbury CHS’ aim in the training would be to upskill SALC to better assist their transitioned clients.  

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Adam Demirtel, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Sunbury Community Health

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Link Health logo
Partnering for better health and wellbeing

Healthier people participating in their communities! This is the vision at Link Health and Community and they have made it their mission to provide integrated health and community services to Melbourne’s east and south-east. At Link Health and Community, they are committed to doing this through the provision of programs and services where they value a caring approach, accessible services and their local partners.

Their connection with the City of Monash is critical. In partnership with the City of Monash, they aim to deliver proactive and integrated programs and services supporting their community to become informed and activated participants in their health and wellbeing. Over time, these partnerships break down silos and improve communication and care, thereby enhancing outcomes for the community.  

Some of their key partnership projects include:

  • Supporting the Council in the development of the Positive Ageing Activity Centre in Clayton. The Hub provides access for older adults living in and around Clayton to participate in activities including shared meals, physical and social activities, outings, movie sessions and Tai Chi 
  • Co-location of programs and services at Council aquatic and recreation centres through provision of individual and group-based physical activity programs and clinical health services. The aim of this partnership is to increase opportunities and build the confidence of older adults to participate in programs at the recreation centres through the provision of step-up and step-down programs.

Link Health and Community also works closely with their neighbourhood houses to build capacity, link in with existing programs and provide additional opportunities.  

Some of their key projects in this area include:

  • Provision of weekly planned activities at Mulgrave Neighbourhood House
  • Program development at Power Neighbourhood House to provide activities to address some of the issues faced by older adults, such as social isolation and easy access to safe and enjoyable activities.

These opportunities are just some examples of the positive outcomes arising from a collaborative, partnership approach. This approach has enabled the provision of a wider range of program and services and built improved pathways and working relationships between key players in the local community. These and other initiatives have assisted the local community, serviced by Link Health and Community, to better access supported health and wellbeing activities.

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Vanessa Jones, Manager – Health and Wellbeing, Link Health and Community

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Caulfield exercise group photo
Caulfield Physical Activity Program a winner

The Physical Activity Program at Caulfield Community Health Service (Caulfield Hospital, Alfred Health) offers exercise sessions for older adults in the community.

The program was set up in 1999 and was endorsed by the ‘Living Longer, Living Stronger’ COTA program. The sessions are run by allied health assistants with provision of clinical supervision from exercise physiologists and physiotherapists. Currently the program delivers 82 weekly sessions (56 strength training and 26 ‘Activate’) for nearly 850 community participants.

The participants are either self-referred or referred from GPs, specialists, community health physiotherapists, My Aged Care or Caulfield Hospital departments (e.g. cardiac and pulmonary or community rehabilitation). Before commencing the program, participants are assessed by an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist to decide on the most appropriate group and to determine the person’s goals. Both strength training and Activate sessions incorporate progressive resistance training, cardiovascular endurance training and core and balance exercises.

In 2016, the Physical Activity Program undertook a major innovative quality improvement project. More than 340 survey respondents identified two major areas of improvement: supervision from instructors, and flexibility in attendance. To increase participant supervision, exercise modification/progressions are now conducted separately from the group sessions. One-on-one time is now available for participants to discuss and review goals with instructors and learn new exercises. Instructors also use exercise software to develop individualised exercise programs, which include photos and instructions and which can be accessed online by participants. To improve attendance flexibility, participants can attend any time on Wednesdays (no prior booking is required). Participants can now also attend more sessions (up to three sessions a week). This has increased the commitment to physical activity for our active older adults. 

Community social connectedness is an important aspect of the program, which is demonstrated by well-attended quarterly social lunches. 

The Physical Activity Program continues to explore its options to expand by establishing more partnerships, thereby increasing physical activity in community.

For more information visit or contact Disha Doshi on (03) 9076 6742

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Disha Doshi, Physical Activity Coordinator, Caulfield Community Health Service, Alfred Health.

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Keon Park exercise group photo
Active ageing program at Keon Park home

Physical activities such as regular exercises are known to bring many health benefits to older people. That’s why the vision of a specialist gym for residents was established well before building plans for Southern Cross Care (Vic)’s aged care home in Keon Park were drawn up.

Opened in August 2013, Southern Cross Care Keon Park is a purpose-built aged care home offering 96 places for both low and high care needs. The home’s fully equipped gym enables all residents, regardless of their physical and mental capacity, to have access to some aspect of supervised exercise within the home. 

A qualified personal trainer was appointed for this purpose and incorporated into the home’s lifestyle program. To provide appropriate exercise program for the residents, the personal trainer works closely with the physiotherapists to assess each resident’s physical health conditions. 

‘Residents work with a personal trainer experienced in aged care, to develop an exercise program tailored to their specific abilities and goals,’ said Barbara Stacpoole, manager of the home. ‘If residents are unable to attend the gym due to mobility issues, arrangements are made for the personal trainer to visit them in their room, so nobody misses the opportunity to get fit.’

Many of the home’s residents have embraced the opportunity to use the gym and partake in the many physical activities on offer. Staff are seeing happier and healthier residents, with many of them enjoying group exercise classes, walking groups or one-on-one sessions under the guidance of the personal trainer.

Ms Stacpoole said that the benefits of the gym and subsequent physical activity programs were apparent to all staff, families and visitors to the home when they saw how much the residents were enjoying themselves. 

‘Families too are getting involved by assisting the personal trainer during their loved ones’ gym sessions. Residents told us they are feeling much happier, stronger and more confident now, especially when they have achieved a health goal they did not believe was possible,’ she said.

Laughter can be heard resounding throughout the home whenever residents are participating in fun physical activities. Fun is truly infectious and this has motivated many residents at the home to be involved in a physical activity or exercise program, thus helping them to stay active and healthy.

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Sarah Boyd, Personal Trainer, Southern Cross Care Keon Park.

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Gymnastics Victoria photo
‘Move for Life’ with Gymnastics Victoria 

In February, Gymnastics Victoria launched ‘Move for Life’, a fun and social program that aims to help older adults develop in the areas of mobility, strength, coordination and confidence. 

Move for Life programs cater for each participant and are tailored to their level of ability and mobility. Activities undertaken in each session aim to help with everyday activities like bending down to cupboards, reaching up to hang out washing and playing with grandchildren.

Move for Life is running with accredited instructors across various venues in Victoria as well as in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. 

If you are looking for a program that will help your clients become more physically active and improve their mobility in other sports and daily activities, then Move for Life is for them. There is also the added social benefit of meeting new people in a social environment in their local community. 

To learn more about Move for Life and view Gymnastics Victoria’s promotional video, click here

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Gen Simmons, Marketing and Communications Manager, Gymnastics Victoria

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Walking Soccer photo
Walking soccer looking for partners

Melbourne City Football Club (FC), through its community arm ‘City in the Community’, last year piloted a slower version of the world game to help address physical inactivity in seniors. With funding from VicHealth’s ‘Innovation Fund’, the pilot project reached over 800 participants partnering with councils, community groups and aged care service providers. Spread across 15 different locations throughout Victoria, young leaders delivered over 172 sessions throughout the year. Seventy-seven per cent of participants were previously inactive whilst 70 per cent of participants were born overseas. The activity was also hugely popular with women with this group making up 60 per cent of the participants. Interaction with the young coaches/facilitators was something participants thoroughly enjoyed.

The sessions themselves were fun and energetic with participants doing gentle exercises, building their football skills and of course, playing matches. Essentially, the matches are non-contact and allow players time to kick the ball. Participants forged a strong connection with the Melbourne City FC with some groups playing at the Club’s family day and some watching their first ever A-league game at AAMI Park. 

Special tournaments were also held to bring different groups together to play against each other and socialise. One of the highlights was an all women’s tournament in North Melbourne, which was attended by the Melbourne City FC captain (and Matilda /Australian representative), Steph Catley. Click here to view some images and further information about this day. 

Most importantly, in the program evaluation of the walking soccer initiative, participants indicated the project had a positive impact on their physical and psychological well-being.

In 2017, VicHealth is funding ‘City in the Community’ to explore how the walking soccer program can expand and become sustainable. Project Coordinator, George Halkias, is once again leading the project and keen to collaborate with interested parties. He is contactable on 0403 653 951 or by email

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by George Halkias, Project Coordinator, Melbourne City Football Club

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Research update

Primary role for physical activity in dementia risk reduction

The prevalence of dementia, which represents a collection of symptoms associated with impaired memory and declines in thinking ability, is projected to grow by up to 75% world-wide by 2030. As such, it is one of the most rapidly increasing contributors to the burden of disease in many nations. 

Alongside these dramatic figures is an expanding body of evidence that identifies a range of risk factors for dementia that are potentially modifiable. The study reported in this article aimed to estimate the proportion of dementia in Australia that is attributable to seven modifiable risk factors for dementia, namely: midlife obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, low educational attainment, diabetes mellitus, midlife hypertension and depression. The authors calculated population attributable risks (PAR) for dementia associated with each risk factor, and for all combined. Data from the 2011–2013 Australian Health Survey were used to estimate the prevalence of the risk factors, and published meta-analyses to determine the relative risk of dementia due to each of these. 

Insufficient physical activity was found to account for most of the cases of dementia in Australia (43,468) with an estimated PAR of dementia due this risk factor of 17.9%. Second to this was midlife obesity (41,222 cases, PAR 17.0%), followed by low educational attainment (35,730 cases, PAR 14.7%) and midlife hypertension (33,196 cases, PAR 13.7%). Overall, 48.4% of dementia cases were attributable to the seven modifiable risk factors under study. Further, it was projected that a 10% reduction in these risk factors would reduce the number of cases of dementia in 2030 by 35,298 (or 6.8%). These findings highlight that dementia should no longer be considered an inevitable consequence of ageing, and that facilitating physical activity among middle and older aged adults has a key role in reducing the risk and delaying the onset of this condition.

Full details about this study can be viewed at: Ashby-Mitchell K, Burns R, Shaw J, Anstey KJ. ‘Proportion of dementia in Australia explained by common modifiable risk factors’. Alzheimer's Research and Therapy. 2017;9(1):11. 

This is available at:

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Determinants of physical activity adherence among older women

Broadening the reach of physical activity programs for older adults is a priority for public health policy makers and of equal importance is identifying strategies to facilitate ongoing adherence to these programs so that their benefits can be realised. The need to investigate facilitators of adherence is supported by a number of studies which have found that around 50% of individuals who start a physical activity program drop out within first few weeks. 

The study reported in this article set out to identify factors associated with completion of the EnhanceFitness (EF) program by older women in three counties in South Florida in the United States. EF is a low-cost group program of one hour duration, offered three times per week that includes stretching, flexibility, balance, low-impact aerobics, and strength training exercises. At enrolment, participants completed questionnaires about their demographic characteristics, medical history and health risk factors. The analysis investigated which of these factors predicted completion of the program, defined as attending three sessions per week for four months or more. 

The study found that 3,829 women aged 60 or above attended EF at least once, and of these 924 (24.2%) were completers. Women aged 80 years or more were one-and-a-half times more likely to complete the program that women aged 60-69 years. Minority and migrant women less likely to complete the program than white, non-Hispanics. Those with a history of depression and who reported three or more chronic disease risk factors were also found to significantly less likely to complete the EF program. 

The authors recommended that participants be given follow-up telephone calls every few weeks to discuss their adherence issues, and that culturally competent instructors be used at locations with non-white participants. They also highlighted the importance of instructors communicating the benefits of the program, and reinforcing to participants that they should do it at a pace that is comfortable. 

The full report of this study is provided at: Batra A, Coxe S, Page TF, Melchior M, Palmer RC. ‘Evaluating the factors associated with the completion of a community-based group exercise program among older women’. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 2016; 24(4):649-58. Access to this article may depend on your institutional rights.

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European guide to effective programs for healthy and active ageing 

Improvements in the quality of physical activity programs for older people, and the strength of engagement that they achieve with participants will be facilitated by ongoing efforts to learn from practice and disseminate insights gained across the sector. ‘Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Ageing (PAHA)’ was a collaborative project conducted across eight countries in Europe (Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom and Denmark) that tested the impact of physical activity programs for inactive 55-65 year olds with different functional capacities, and identified the attributes of successful delivery. In each country, three fitness centres ran 6-week trial programs, free of charge to participants, with follow-up at three months and six months to assess whether beneficial levels of physical activity were being maintained. 

Across the participating countries, 1,080 inactive older people were invited to take part in trial programs and 669 (62%) were enrolled. Completion of the 6-week program was achieved by 89% of participants, and over 60% were found to be maintaining beneficial levels of physical activity after 3 months. From this experience, the collaborators developed a list of key considerations for planning and delivering a successful intervention in active ageing. A selection of 10 of these are given below, a number of which are framed as questions. 

  • Research and understand your market
  • What are the barriers to older adults taking up your offer?
  • What is the ‘offer’ that will make people change their mind and come to your action?
  • What are the ‘guaranteed’ rewards if someone takes part?
  • Are there any special considerations of ethnicity, cultural, religious, disability issues that need to be planned into the action?
  • Does there need to be a liaison with local healthcare providers?
  • Are reminders sent to ensure they turn up?
  • Is there a plan to promote and record what is happening?
  • How do you measure the success of the intervention?
  • What happens after the intervention – who does the follow-up?

The full report is: ‘EuropeActive. A Good Practice Guide for an Effective Intervention to Promote Healthy and Active Ageing’. EuropeActive, Brussels, Belgium. This is available at:

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Stay in the know

Active Beyond Running photo
Film: ‘Active Beyond Running’

The message within this film is that there is a runner in everyone, no matter their age, disability or health. The film was shown at the ‘Run Nation’ Running Film Festival, which took place across Australia in 2016. It stars polio survivor, Gayle Anne Frost; heart attack survivor, Dennis McCarron and 91-year-old Terry Campbell – all of whom took part in physical activity trials run by The George Institute for Global Health.

You can view the video via the following link:

Important research in the eastern region of Melbourne

Inner East Primary Care Partnership (IEPCP) has recently completed research about the ‘Health and Wellbeing Needs of Older People Living in the Eastern Region of Melbourne’.

Given an ageing population and the strong desire of older people to stay living independently in the community, the research collates data and grey literature from a range of sources on a number of health and wellbeing indicators.

Using the World Health Organisation definition of healthy ageing as ‘the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age’, the research looks at indicators that measure the intrinsic capacity and environments of older people living in the eastern region of Melbourne: personal characteristics, health characteristics, health related behaviours, lifestyle behaviours, social and community networks, and age-friendly cities.

Some notable data about the eastern region:

  • The number of 60+ year olds is projected to increase by 37% from the 2011 Census figures to 295,000 by 2026
  • 24% of 60+ year olds speak a language other than English at home, with a third of these speaking English not well or not at all
  • 76% of females aged 75+ years live alone
  • 38% of 60+ year olds have completed post-secondary education
  • 28% of 70+ year olds don’t meet the physical activity guidelines
  • 43% don’t meet the fruit and vegetable consumption guidelines
  • 17% of 60–79 year olds are classified as obese;
  • 36% of those aged 65+ years need assistance with one or more activities;
  • 12% have a severe or profound disability;
  • There are over 9,000 people aged 65+ years who care for someone who needs assistance;
  • 21% of 60–79 year olds volunteer;
  • 8 in 10 people aged 60+ years are affiliated with a religion (primarily Christianity).

IEPCP encourages agencies and individuals to use the research for planning and to support collaborative work in the region to improve the health and wellbeing of older people.

The full report, data tables and local area snapshots of each of the seven local government areas in the eastern region are available on the IEPCP website.

For further information email:

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Sharon Porteous, Integrated Care Coordinator, Inner East Primary Care Partnership

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Active April logo
It’s that time of year again! 

As part of the Victorian Government’s ongoing commitment to get people active and healthy, Premier’s Active April encourages all Victorians to undertake 30 minutes of physical activity a day. All Victorians are invited to sign up and get active – regardless of age, gender, or fitness levels.

People are asked to challenge themselves to be active for just 30 minutes every day – it can be as easy as getting out in the garden, going for a walk, or taking the stairs. As most of us know, regular physical activity not only makes a person feel good, but it reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. Low impact exercises like yoga, walking or water-based activities can also reduce the symptoms of joint pain while allowing a person to keep fit. Getting outdoors with a group of friends not only motivates us all to be more active, but is great for our mental wellbeing as well!

It’s fun and free to register for Premier’s Active April. Participants receive a range of offers including 10 free passes to a participating YMCA or local government facility as well as other great offers. Simply head over to the website to register and start getting active:

Upcoming events

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Move - muscle, bone and joint health, the new voice of Arthritis Victoria

Welcome to MOVE muscle, bone & joint health, the new voice of Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria.

We may have a new name but since 1968 we have been the leading provider of supported solutions and trusted knowledge to the one-in-three Australians who live with these conditions.

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