Implementing healthy planning and active living initiatives: a virtuous cycle
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Factors including internal local government functioning, collaboration and the use of co-benefits have been noted to assist in the uptake of healthy planning policies and projects by local governments. However, less commonly noted is a possible reverse relationship: that implementation of healthy planning projects can contribute positively to organisational functioning and collaboration, and can result in a range of co-benefits that then can be used to support projects. Such a concept is explored in this paper, with a focus at the local government level in Australia. Findings from surveys with local government practitioners and in-depth interviews with healthy planning and community health advocates are presented. The findings indicate four key areas through which the implementation of healthy planning policies and projects and active living initiatives demonstrates a ‘virtuous cycle’. These areas include (1) project ‘wind-up’, or circumstances in which implementation and/or health outcomes exceed initial expectations; (2) improved partnerships that can create opportunities for future initiatives; (3) improved internal organisational functioning; and (4) greater project sustainability. The paper concludes by exploring some possible repercussions of these emerging findings, which indicate that beneficial settings to healthy planning considerations can be a result of as well as a contributor to healthy planning and active living initiative implementation. In turn, this presents another potential co-benefit of project uptake and implementation to those commonly identified.
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