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"This Girl Can" Campaign to Boost Physical Activity

With the recent release of the Australian Government’s National Sport Plan – 2030, health promotion foundation VicHealth have announced a $4.5 million in funding for new programs to encourage activity for women in regional Victoria.

“This Girl Can” from VicHealth was originally based off an English campaign and is only a little over 12 months old but is now at the forefront of discussion for regional Victoria to tackle the specific problems around inactivity and obesity outside of Melbourne’s CBD.

Campaign funding of $4.5million aims to build upon its current success and empower women across the state to get active and overcome feelings of peer pressure and judgement, which has found to be the leading cause of inactivity. The research showed that over 50% of Victorian women worry about being judged when exercising. Apprehension and anxiety about keeping up, being unfit and returning to an exercise routine when they haven’t been active for a period time are the strongest results.

Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO explained that the fear of judgement, as well as previous experiences prevent many women from being physically active. “Over half of Victorian women worry about being judged while exercising and for over 40% this feeling of embarrassment or intimidation is so strong it actually stops them from taking part in sport or exercise,”

The funding will be rolled out over 3 years in various stages and will be utilized by Victroia’s nine Regional Sport Assemblies, ranging from the Gippsland area right through to Mildura. The monies will be used to introduce sporting activities such as sailing, surfing and skateboarding. Programs and activities will have four main focuses, female-friendly, accessible, cost-effective and time efficient.

Sporting clubs will also have a significant role to provide active opportunities for women and young girls. The nine Regional Sports Assemblies will also look at increasing overall participation from all members of the community. It is critical for the local sporting groups to have the support to welcome and engage all members of the community to boost participation numbers and aim for long term change in statistics around inactivity and obesity.

Ms Rechter stated “As part of our This Girl Can - Victoria campaign, we’ve heard from so many Victorian women who’ve gone to a sports club or gym and never gone back because they’ve felt intimidated, embarrassed and ashamed. The campaign isn’t about making women feel bad about not doing enough exercise. It’s about celebrating what they can do, even if that’s just walk around the block or a few laps in the pool”.

“The funding is about making sport and physical activity fun, accessible, local and a regular part of everyday life for less active regional Victorians.” Ms Rechter stated.

VicHealth complimented the Regional Sport Assemblies on their fantastic knowledge of their local areas and is proud to be moving forward with such an exciting campaign to meet the physical activity needs of regional Victoria.

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