Pioneering health initiative begins at Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre

Belgravia Leisure, operator of recently opened Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre is set to launch an industry-leading partnership this month with medical group and allied health provider, Tristar Medical Group. The partnership marks a significant step towards developing new health and leisure models that can improve community wellbeing and drive positive health outcomes.

A disconnect currently exists between government and societal structures in which health treatment and preventative programs are separate. Tristar and Belgravia Leisure have united to bridge this gap and improve accessibility to health services by offering a one-stop health shop for local communities.

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Within this one-stop structure a community member can complete their journey to better health from early diagnosis through to engagement in physical activity as prescribed by their exercise physiologist (EP). The co-location of the complimentary services will simultaneously aid in minimising “duplication and waste,” which has previously occurred under the existing structure. The initiative also provides opportunities in the advancement of research concerning the link between chronic illness and the preventative physical activity services that can significantly improve such conditions.

The partnership will be the first of its kind in formally integrating general practitioners and other allied health professions within community leisure and aquatic centres. Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre (Kangaroo Flat in Bendigo, regional Victoria) will be one of the two pilot sites selected to lead the initiative alongside Aquarena Aquatic Centre (Lower Templestowe, VIC).

Tristar Medical Group will occupy a fully operational, accessible medical consulting space located in the health club space. A full-time physiotherapist has commenced practice at Gurri Wanyarra, with a second physiotherapist, dietician and general practitioner set to be employed at the site in early 2019. The Tristar Allied Health professionals will complement Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre’s exercise physiologists currently servicing the community needs.

Already, the partnership is fostering new relationships within the Greater Bendigo region as existing Tristar Clinics in Epsom, Kangaroo Flat and Eaglehawk will drive referrals to Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre.

City of Greater Bendigo Manager Active and Healthy Lifestyles Lincoln Fitzgerald said: “We are pleased to partner in this exciting project, which supports Council’s Community Plan goal of wellbeing and fairness by designing settings and environments that can create better health outcomes.”

Popularity in the new structure is rising in the UK with numerous medical facilities co-locating in leisure centres. In Australia, the initiative is supported by studies conducted by Victoria University that outline the benefits of participation in physical activity in both the primary and secondary prevention of a many chronic diseases (including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, mental health conditions, and musculoskeletal conditions), the importance of a referral system between GPs and exercise physiologists, and the need for industry to support this structure.

Further evidence that supports the need for integrated services includes the substantial population reach and impact of GPs in Australia. About 85 per cent of Australians visit a GP at least once in any given year’. Therefore, incorporating physical activity advice or referral in general practice has the potential to engage a much larger proportion of the community in preventative health measures and physical activity.

Belgravia Leisure’s CEO, Nick Cox, said: “Our partnership with Tristar is only the first step in continuing to deliver on our community responsibilities in the health and leisure space. The alignment between our services and Tristar’s services present a fantastic opportunity to increase knowledge around the link between chronic illness and physical activity”.