Rural Walkability Projects

A citizen science project to identify environmental characteristics that influence walkability and physical activity in rural Tasmania

The environments where people live, learn, work, play and age are important influences on physical activity, health and wellbeing. More walkable environments support more active lifestyles which decreases the risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. This is particularly important in rural areas of Australia where people are less physically active and poor health is more common.

About the project

This project will develop walkability benchmarks for rural communities, and will co-design with community members, practitioners and policy makers a practical and scalable smart tool. This tool will enable rural communities to identify and prioritise aspects of the local built environment that impact on walkability and physical activity.

Using citizen science and co-design approaches, the research team will work closely with local leaders and residents in rural Tasmanian communities during data collection, analysis and interpretation to identify potential areas for change in the community. Local leaders and residents will be directly involved in data collection, which will involve auditing the physical environment and local policies and programs using established tools, capturing photos of important town features, and discussions with local community leaders and residents.

We will then work with communities to identify local priorities and discuss appropriate approaches to sharing and advocating for change based on the findings.

Expected outcomes

  • The development of benchmarks for walkability in rural towns
  • The development of a smart tool that enables rural communities to audit aspects of the local built environment that impact on walkability and physical activity
  • Identification of community priorities, potentially informing town planning and advocacy efforts
  • Increased knowledge and understanding of how to improve walkability and promote physical activity in rural communities
  • Enhanced community engagement, social participation, and community capital

Participate in the study

Do you live in St Helens, Zeehan or Snug? We are currently recruiting participants from these three Tasmanian towns to be Community Champions or Citizen Scientists for the study.

Community Champion: Roles, expectations and benefits

Citizen Scientist: Roles, expectations and benefits

To register your interest, please contact Dr. Subhash Koirala at Subhash.Koirala@utas.edu.au.

Project resources

Pilot project reports

Other resources

Key people and partners

Investigators

Funding

The project is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) with support from the Tasmanian Government (Public Health Services, Department of Health), the Local Government Association of Tasmania, and the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre and the University of Tasmania (Menzies Institute for Medical Research).

Contact

If you want to know more about the project or are interested to participate in the project, please contact  verity.cleland@utas.edu.au or subhash.koirala@utas.edu.au.