It was the appeal of a regional lifestyle that drew community health worker Katherine Cape to Ballarat.
She moved to Ballarat from Melbourne over seven years ago, bringing her passion for preventative health measures and a vision to decrease obesity in the city.
“I was fed up with the busyness of Melbourne and how difficult it was to get everywhere,” she said.
“I wanted more of a community oriented place – with the growth of Melbourne you lose some of that community feel. I love Ballarat because it has all of those features that I was missing so much in life in Melbourne.”
Ms Cape began a role with Ballarat Community Health in 2016, after working with the Department of Education in early childhood.
The role is focussed on health promotion and system development to prevent health problems before they arise.
“It is about creating environments that make it easier for people to be healthy and encourage people to take good health habits,” she said.
“Obesity for instance is a big problem in Australia and certainly in Ballarat… Part of my work is making it easier when people go to a sports club or other places to be able to make healthy food choices and encourage other healthy choices like cycling instead of driving.”
Ms Cape said her passion for community health stemmed from social justice principles.
“Having good health, a safe place to live, people around you that care for you and access to education are fundamental human rights, but unfortunately it is not the same for everybody. Some people have the means to have better, healthier lives.
“Everything plays into health. If you haven’t had an education, if you are homeless and dependent on food relief, that can impact your health.
“If we are going to change obesity levels we have to be doing a whole range of things that make it easier for people to make healthy choices. For example with all the new suburbs we should plan building to help promote health so people can walk to places instead of having to drive.”
Ms Cape has made an effort to become a part of the Ballarat community, volunteering at the soup bus and joining the board of the Eureka Community Kindergarten Association.
“I immediately loved Ballarat. I remember in the past when I used to live in Melbourne I would come back from a trip away and hit the Western suburbs and my heart would sink because of all the concrete and busy roads. Now I come back here and think I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place.”
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