Multicultural connection to nature celebrated during Parks Week
Thursday 27 February, 2014
Connecting Victoria’s multicultural community to parks and nature will be a focus of celebrations during Parks Week from 3-9 March 2014.
Parks Week is an annual celebration of the important role that parks play in contributing healthy communities.
Parks Victoria’s Chief Executive, Dr Bill Jackson, said some exciting and innovative programs are helping multicultural communities to enjoy Victoria’s parks and reap the healthy benefits of connecting with nature.
“One project that’s been met with great success is the Community Kitchen Garden at Werribee Park that began in 2012,” he said.
The program was developed for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in Melbourne’s western suburbs and is now a thriving community garden program with a horticultural educational facility.
“When the project began, it aimed to address some of the mental health issues associated with the effects of post traumatic disorders, including depression and isolation for women from refugee communities. Now the project has grown to include younger members of the community; people in their early twenties, the women’s kids, grandkids, nephews and nieces,” said Dr Jackson.
“Communities such as the Karen people from Burma have really taken to this opportunity as they absolutely love gardening,” he said.
Further opportunities are also being offered to younger members of the CALD communities through traineeships in the parks.
Trainees work alongside park rangers for three days a week while they are undertaking their certificate courses in Horticulture and Conservation and Land management
The educational program has been developed with support from agencies including Parks Victoria, Australian Multicultural Education Services (AMES), the Brotherhood of St Lawrence and Matchworks.
“These types of programs are highly valuable for people’s social, educational, physical and mental wellbeing and align well with Parks Victoria’s Healthy Parks Healthy People approach,” said Dr Jackson.
“A growing body of research world-wide suggests that getting into parks and connecting with nature is good for people’s mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.”
“At a time when people are spending more time indoors with computers and other screens, and many are facing health issues through lack of exercise, it’s even more important to make the most of all the healthy benefits that our parks and nature provide.
“In Australia, preventable diseases like diabetes are becoming more common— with its prevalence at least doubling in the past two decades.”
Other initiatives developed to give multicultural communities better access to Victoria’s parks include:
- A Discover Parks Program that supports community organisations to run innovative and interesting activities that introduce culturally and linguistically diverse communities to parks.
- Parks Victoria has supported Alzheimer’s Australia in providing health and wellbeing program's in parks for isolated carers from CALD backgrounds. Eight CALD communities from Melbourne and Geelong participated in the program in parks in and near Melbourne last year.
Parks Week is an annual celebration of the important role that parks play in contributing to healthy communities. Parks Week is coordinated by Parks Forum, the peak body for parks agencies across Australia and New Zealand.
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