Far North businesses get the message

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JOINING THE DOTS: Warehouse Group wellbeing support manager Phillipa Bennetts - a healthy workforce equates to a healthy community. PICTURE/SUPPLIED
JOINING THE DOTS: Warehouse Group wellbeing support manager Phillipa Bennetts - a healthy workforce equates to a healthy community. PICTURE/SUPPLIED

The early birds caught plenty of worms when Healthy Families Far North and Mayor John Carter delivered the healthy workplace message to more than 50 Far North businesses representatives at a business breakfast at the Ramada Reia Taipa Resort last week.

The Healthy Workplace + Healthy Workforce = Healthy Business breakfast also featured Warehouse Group wellbeing support manager Phillipa Bennetts and Toi Te Ora Workwell advisor Hannah Kelly as guest speakers.

Healthy Families NZ says its revolutionary approach to public health addresses the underlying causes of preventable chronic diseases in 10 communities across New Zealand, including the entire Far North. The initiative embodies key work streams including making good food choices, being physically active, sustaining a healthy weight, being smoke-free and moderating alcohol consumption in a whole-of-communities, settings-based approach.

One of the key settings is the workplace. In the Far North District alone, 19,080 people are employed in some 7309 businesses while 75 large businesses employ 20 or more staff.

Mr Carter spoke of the infrastructural developments under way in the district aimed at addressing health and wellbeing across communities, and the ensuing economic impact.

"Community wellbeing is not just about bricks and mortar. It is more focused on empowering communities and growing our economy," he said.

"Recently we contributed to the development of a Northland Economic Action Plan, and collaborated with other councils on a Northland Strategic Plan that aims to improve economic and social outcomes in Northland."

Ms Bennetts presented on her group's health and wellbeing programme, that supports up to 8000 people at 92 stores from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

She had developed a passion to share her knowledge from more than 40 years' service as a registered nurse, and developed the programme that was initially piloted in Whangarei, Whakatane, Gisborne and Manukau to influence sustainable change.

"Our foundation principle is to look after the environment, the community and its people. A healthy workforce equates to a healthy community - it is impossible to have one without the other," she said.

The group placed a strong emphasis on the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand's Winning Ways to Wellbeing - connecting, giving, taking notice, keeping learning and being active - as a base for positively implementing workplace initiatives.

Ms Kelly outlined the key stages of the workplace wellbeing programme offered by the Bay of Plenty-based public health service. Those stages, from engagement through to evaluation and improvement, were carefully designed for adoption by workplaces across a wide variety of sectors and included a range of features, from employee induction programmes to data analysis to accreditation systems.

Healthy Families Far North manager Allan Pivac said the forum was a successful event marked by positive messages and conversation starters for businesses and employers across the Far North.

"A healthier Far North starts in the places where we live, learn, work and play, and workplaces are more than places of employment. They are environments that have the ability to act as catalysts for change across whole populations and sustain a wider impact for the better," he said.

- Northland Age

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