Relationship with council goes from strength to strength

Published: Wednesday 16th November 2016

ACU Melbourne’s relationship with the City of Yarra continues to go from strength to strength, with the Centre for Health and Social Research (CHaSR) forming a new partnership with the council.

Working in collaboration with CHaSR, the City of Yarra recently obtained a grant from VicHealth for an alcohol culture change community project.

The Melbourne Campus is located within the City of Yarra and already has a strong relationship with the council through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in July last year.

The MOU includes an agreement to share knowledge and expertise, guidance on the University’s capital works program and collaboration on community-focused initiatives.

CHaSR will work on the project with the council as its evaluation partner. CHaSR research officer Kate Francis said the project would focus on young people and alcohol consumption within the City of Yarra.

“In particular we’ll be looking into drinking behaviours amongst young people of African descent,” Ms Francis said.

“There’s some evidence already available that the rate of youth drinking is higher in the City of Yarra than in other municipalities and one of the other things we know is that young people’s drinking is often shaped by the rules and norms within their family environment.”

“We’re going to be looking at the behaviours and intentions of alcohol from parents’ perspectives, across the wider community,” Ms Francis said.

City of Yarra was one of eight councils selected to take part in first phase of the project, which continues through to March 2017. Up to four of the selected councils’ projects will then be funded for a further two years.

CHaSR Director Professor Sandra Jones said working with City of Yarra as an evaluation partner fed into CHaSR’s role as a “capacity builder”.

“Our philosophy when we do projects like this is that we want to walk away knowing that people have developed research skills and are able to better evaluate their own research project,” Professor Jones said.

City of Yarra Senior Policy Advisor Dr Belinda Robson said the council was excited and optimistic about how the research was going so far.

“We were interested in partnering with ACU on this project because of our existing MOU and we saw this as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and also to work with CHaSR, which we know is well-respected,” Dr Robson said.

“We’re very happy to partner with ACU because we know it’s a university that takes its social responsibilities very seriously and so far the relationship has been very fruitful.”

Professor Jones said the partnership also tied in with ACU’s role on the City of Yarra’s Health and Wellbeing Plan Advisory Committee.

Professor Jones and ACU Paediatric Exercise Science Professor Geraldine Naughton both serve on the committee.

The committee provides advice to the council on evidence around different types of health interventions, what should be focused on in the region in terms of health issues, and advising on the council’s annual plan for health and wellbeing.

“We have a genuine commitment to work with the City of Yarra and help to improve the environment we’re physically situated in,” Professor Jones said.