Hansard of the Legislative Council
17th March 2011

Windsor Park Precinct
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, I am also going to talk on health today. I think we all know the vital economic statistic; if the Tasmanian health budget continues to increase at the present annual rate in a decade or two it will devour the entire State budget. What follows is that more has to be done to keep people out of hospitals. That is the responsibility not only of individuals, but also of all levels of government. It is obvious that local government has a big responsibility in this area. The health of communities depends on a wide range of local council decisions; decisions about their medical centres, recreation areas, sporting facilities, parks, cycle and pedestrian tracks. Councils need to bring community health into planning decisions. People of all ages need to be given incentives and the means to exercise in the course of their daily lives. This action is exemplified by our member for Mersey. He is one of those figures of fitness who leads his community of Latrobe, particularly, and the municipality of Mersey by example.
I want to talk about the West Tamar Council. That is in my constituency, of course, and it is well aware of its obligations. Among other things it has been working on a multipurpose community leisure and wellbeing centre. It is virtually completed and currently operating. This community services hub concept was outlined in a council strategic directions plan in 2006. Since then the council commissioned a wellbeing project report that was released last year. I would like to summarise some of the key features because I think it really represents the way of the future and it might be an idea for your own municipalities.
The population area has an increasing and ageing population that will require an increasing reliance on community and health services. There is a high and increasing incidence of chronic diseases, although a significant percentage of the community disease burden has the potential to be prevented, as we have heard from the honourable member for Western Tiers, with the support given to diabetes sufferers. There is a shortage of general practitioners and health service providers. A safe and welcoming built environment conducive to physical activity and exercise is seen as important. Young people have specific health needs and issues, including the risk of health problems related to smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Support programs and activities are seen as essential to combat their risk-taking behaviours and the chestnuts - obesity, nutrition and limited infrastructure - are of concern in helping to support physical activity. They are some of the health and wellbeing worries in the centre of my constituency and I am sure that they are reflected in most Tasmanian communities. The West Tamar Council sees its multipurpose Community, Leisure and Wellbeing Centre as part of the solution. I can tell you it is a most impressive development. If ever you are in my area at Riverside, turn off into the football ground at Windsor Park and you will see that they are situated on the other side of the ground. You might even be able to have a kick while you are there.
The facility at Windsor Park offers a diverse range of indoor and outdoor leisure, sporting, community, social, health and education programs for a regional community. The building area totals almost 5 000 square metres. It comprises a community service wellbeing central hub, a multifunctional space for a number of user groups to develop skills and training in an indoor training area, another space is a gymnasium, there are change rooms for the footy, a professional food service site, a medical centre and pathology service, and a site for a potential childcare centre and a pharmacy. There are large spaces for flexible use. There are 112 car-parking spaces. It is a very big project and it will take time to fully evolve, but it is certainly an impressive start.
The West Tamar Council successfully applied to the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program's Strategic Projects in 2008-09 to enable it to design, construct and supply this multipurpose facility. It will be a fully functioning integrated venue highly accessible to the majority of the West Tamar and Launceston council populations and it is also going to be easily accessible to many residents living in the Meander Valley area, so the honourable member for Western Tiers will be able to avail himself of the services as well.
Not only will this community-focus centre help people to be fitter and healthier, and hopefully to stay out of hospitals, but it is already a very important community focus in the electorate of Rosevears and beyond.