Healthcare Under the Rainbow launched

Cobaw Community Health’s WayOut team have launched an educational video that provides a safe platform for LGBTIQ+ young people to speak to healthcare professionals and services about their needs, and offer suggestions and advice about working with the sex and gender diverse community.

The Healthcare under the Rainbow video is a contemporary educational tool for GPs and other healthcare professionals, aimed at improving inclusive clinical practice and increasing the safety of young people accessing healthcare services.

A group of young people from the Macedon Ranges developed and produced the video. Participants enjoyed the opportunity to develop skills in photography, film, editing and events, as well as the experience of researching and developing health promotion messages for healthcare professionals.

This project was funded by a grant from Kyneton Community and Learning Centre’s LETS! Leaderships & Events Training Skills Project, through the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services’ Engage! Program. A seven month process, the video was launched last month with an event at Brooke Street Medical Centre in Woodend.

The producer of the video, Kieran Atkins said, “I really enjoyed doing the video. It was very exciting to work on something about youth healthcare that is medically sound and informative and that has been led by LGBTIQ+ young people. I hope the video ends some of the stigma around the doctor/patient relationship. It’s a very positive and encouraging video that celebrates the good that equal healthcare can provide.”

Margaret McDonald, Cobaw’s CEO, encourages all healthcare professionals to view and share this short video.

“A few changes to the way we interact with and the questions we ask LGBTIQ+ young people can make all the difference to a person’s experience visiting their doctor, hospital or other healthcare setting.”

For further information, contact WayOut on 1300 0 26229 or

Join Cobaw in getting active this April

Family cycling and walking dog

Cobaw Community Health is encouraging schools within the Macedon Ranges Shire to join them in signing up to Premier’s Active April this year. Premier’s Active April encourages all Victorians to do 30 minutes of physical activity a day during April. It’s free, fun and part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to get more people active and healthy.

According to the 2015 Victorian Population Health Survey, only 34.7 per cent of Macedon Ranges Shire residents participated in physical activity on four or more days of the week, compared with the Victorian average of 41.3 per cent. Engaging in regular physical activity has important benefits for both mental and physical health. Physical activity reduces the risk of many health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, musculoskeletal problems, some cancers and unhealthy weight gain.

Participation in Premier’s Active April has been made easy for schools with the free downloadable mobile app which tracks activity. To participate as a school, a teacher can sign up to Premier’s Active April via the website or mobile app and register their school and students. Alternatively students can sign up themselves and join the school team. By signing up to the month long challenge, the school and students automatically receive a range of prizes and go in the draw to win even more.

Developing a regular pattern of physical activity for children and adolescents can help establish lifelong enjoyment and an appreciation of the benefits of physical activity.

“Supporting schools within the Shire to sign up and participate in Premier’s Active April is one strategy we are implementing to help improve the health and wellbeing of our local community. Cobaw participated as a workplace last year and are signed up again, encouraging our own staff to take the time to be active,” said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO.

For further information, please contact Bec Huddy, Health Promotion Coordinator on 1300 0 26229 or

Cobaw celebrates World Down syndrome Awareness Week

Cobaw Community Health is celebrating World Down syndrome Awareness Week (19-25 March 2018) by hosting a morning tea at the My Time Playgroup on Monday 19 March from 9:30am-11:00am at 49 Forest St, Woodend.  child looking at fish toy

World Down syndrome Awareness Week celebrates the lives and achievements of people with Down syndrome, with this year’s theme focusing on the different ways people with Down syndrome make a difference to their communities.

Down syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome, chromosome 21. People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes in their cells instead of 46 which results in a range of physical characteristics, health and development indications. Down syndrome affects, but does not determine, development or achievements. People with Down syndrome are unique, with their own talents, abilities, thoughts and interests.

Cobaw provides a range of services and supports to individuals with Down syndrome and their families, including Early Childhood Intervention Supports that help families to understand their child’s unique developmental needs, while strengthening and developing their capacity to successfully access all parts of community. Cobaw is a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider of services for all people with a disability from birth to 60+.

“What happens after birth is by far the most important thing in shaping the outlook for every individual with Down syndrome. This is why access to coordinated early childhood intervention services, like those offered by Cobaw, that support the individual and their family to develop skills in their own home, everyday routines and community are so critical,” said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO.

“With appropriate community health supports, people with Down syndrome can actively participate and contribute to all aspects of family and community life.”

New Dementia project to address local need

Cobaw is pleased to announce that it has been funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments to establish a community wide dementia project. This continues Cobaw’s vision of responding to the health and wellbeing of all the community.

The project recognises the significant unaddressed need in the Macedon Ranges for dementia-related services and support. It aims to raise awareness and understanding of people with dementia by initiating collaboration between community care services and a whole-of-community approach to caring for people with dementia.

A recent report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Australia confirmed there are currently over 400,000 Australians living with dementia and approximately 290,000 people providing care either in the community or in cared accommodation. By 2056, the number of Australians living with dementia is expected to be over 1,000,000.

Cobaw CEO Margaret McDonald stated that, “in time we will all know someone with dementia or be impacted by its prevalence in our local community”.

“In Victoria last year there was more than 98,000 people living with dementia and records show that the Macedon Ranges Shire has the highest incidence of dementia in the Loddon Mallee Health Region, pro rata,” said Ms McDonald.

“Our vision is that this project will provide improved health, wellbeing and quality of life for those with dementia and their carers, as well as providing the community with a clearer understanding of dementia. I hope that each and every one of us has an opportunity to benefit from learning more about dementia, including strategies as simple as how to assist someone who appears lost and confused”.

We invite anyone with ideas about how they can progress this local work and help design the project to contact us on 5421 1666.

Cobaw recognised for outstanding paediatric program

Families in our region can be assured that the health care, information and services available for children from Cobaw Community Health are delivered by leading child health experts.

Cobaw has recently been accredited as a provider of Advanced Training, offering a Program of Excellence in Community Child Health, by the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP). The accreditation recognises Cobaw’s outstanding Paediatric program with learning objectives that are aligned closely with the RACP’s Physician Readiness for Expert Practice (PREP).

As an advanced training site, Cobaw will now offer positions to Paediatric Fellows or Paediatricians in training to spend up to 12 months working alongside Cobaw’s Paediatrician Dr Tristan Pawsey and within its multi-disciplinary child health services.

Cobaw’s Children’s Services program provides strong clinical and theoretical training in developmental-behavioural paediatrics, essential for Advanced Paediatric Trainees who plan to specialise in community child health or to work as consultant general Paediatricians.

Cobaw provides Advance Paediatric Trainees with a supportive learning environment where they will develop individual learning goals and work alongside other experienced child health practitioners with expertise in clinical practice, population child health research and health promotion.

Cobaw aims to ensure that all children and young people get the best start to life with health promotion, early identification, intervention and family-centred care. Cobaw offers a range of comprehensive children’s services including early childhood intervention for children with developmental delays or disabilities, children’s physiotherapy including aquatic therapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy and education support.

If you are concerned about your child’s development, you can talk to your maternal child health nurse, general practitioner (GP) or call Cobaw on (03) 5421 1666.


“As an accredited Program of Excellence in Community Child Health, we hope that the graduates of our program will progress to not only be expert developmental-behavioural Paediatricians, but also the next generation of community child health Paediatricians supporting regional communities” – Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO.

“We are proud of this accreditation as it fits directly with Cobaw’s mission to pursue excellence in health and wellbeing services for all in the community”- Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO.

“I’m thrilled to be able to provide support for the next generation of young paediatricians and encourage their interest in working in community paediatrics” – Dr Tristan Pawsey, Cobaw Paediatrician.

“All children are unique and develop at different rates. Some children need additional support to develop their skills and promote good health outcomes. Quality paediatric care can help families understand their child’s unique needs and receive the supports they need” – Dr Tristan Pawsey, Cobaw Paediatrician.

“Cobaw’s child development practitioners work in partnership with parents and families to meet the unique developmental needs of each child”- Dr Tristan Pawsey, Cobaw Paediatrician.

More children with serious knee injuries: What’s going on?

Kyneton Football Club

A new study referencing Medicare data has confirmed the number of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries among young people, particularly high school students, has risen significantly during the past 20 years: a trend identified by Cobaw Community Health’s Children’s Services team.

“The ACL is one of the four major ligaments that stabilise the knee joint and it helps protect the knee when landing from a jump, pivoting, or slowing down from a run. As pre-teens enter into puberty and grow taller and heavier, their risk of ACL injury increases. Girls are at higher risk of ACL injury because after puberty, as their body size increases, girls usually do not develop more muscle power,” explained Wendy Taverna, Cobaw Children’s Services Physiotherapist.

The effects of an ACL tear can be long-lasting. Injured children who become distanced from their sport and its social network can experience depression, and time away from school for treatments can impact academic performance. Children with an ACL injury are up to 10 times more likely to develop early-onset degenerative knee osteoarthritis, which limits their ability to participate in sports and often leads to chronic pain and disability.

Whilst some of these injuries are accidental and not occurring while playing sport, there are more children and teens participating in organised sports now than ever before.

“We want children to continue to participate in sport as part of a healthy lifestyle, however we are seeing children starting sports activities younger and experiencing more intense training,” said Beck Neylon, Cobaw Children’s Services Physiotherapist.

“The good news is that we’ve shown that with targeted exercises we can increase children’s neuromuscular control and reduce their risk of ACL injuries. We are seeing children as young as 10 with ACL injuries. Children need to be taught how to warm up and stretch correctly, strengthen key muscles and have their technique corrected if necessary to prevent these sorts of injuries”.

Wendy Taverna, Physiotherapist added, “We can design training programs to strengthen children’s lower extremity muscles, improve core stability, and teach children how to avoid unsafe knee positions. These include a good warm up – not just jumping out of a car and running onto the field, but one that involves a lot of change of direction, jumping and agility activities”.

For further information on Cobaw’s Children’s Services call 03 5421 1666.

Cobaw Supports Marriage Equality

Cobaw Community Health (Cobaw) is committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of everyone in the community. We actively advocate for equality and against discrimination, and have been leaders in supporting the health and wellbeing of the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) community.

Despite substantial social reform and legislative change, we know that as a result of ongoing discrimination and exclusion, the LGBTIQ community are over represented in mental health data. Same sex attracted Australians are up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Given that we know there is a causal link between the effects of discrimination and mental health and wellbeing, it is critical that we support initiatives and governmental responses that promote equality for all people.

Cobaw believes that the rights and liberties of all individuals are absolute. We also hold firm the fact that equality before the law is a fundamental human right and not a matter of public opinion.

For these reasons Cobaw supports marriage equality and opposes any dilution to the Anti-Discrimination Act that involves privileged non-compliance for specific groups.

Cobaw echoes the clearly expressed concerns of LGBTIQ people and other stakeholder groups that a plebiscite would have created a divisive issue for the Australian community and harmful for a group of people who already suffer the effects of homophobia, discrimination and abuse.

Cobaw supports marriage equality being delivered through the Australian Parliament.

Homelessness Counts in the Macedon Ranges

Cobaw is hosting an event for Homelessness Week on Tuesday 2 August at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute (4:00pm-6:30 pm) to raise awareness and understanding of homelessness.

The event aims to increase community connections for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, as well as for those working in the homelessness and community sector.

At the event Macedon Ranges housing support organisations will provide information about their services. Guest speakers will include Vicky Vacondios, Council for Homeless Persons and Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO. There will also be entertainment from comedian Trent McCarthy, Cobaw’s own ukulele band The CUPs, and singer-songwriters Damian and Andy. Food will be provided as part of this free event.

Homelessness Week is an annual themed week coordinated by Homelessness Australia which aims to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and the issues people face. ‘Homelessness Counts’ is the theme for Homelessness Week 2016 (1 -7 August).

Homelessness Week takes place over the week before the Census night (9 August) and it is important that those experiencing homelessness are adequately represented in Census data. Data from past Census surveys demonstrates the severity of homelessness across Australia and highlights the need for adequate funding for community services to adequately support people who are homeless or need assistance with associated affordable housing issues.

“Cobaw urges the Macedon Ranges community to recognise that those people experiencing homelessness are a valuable part of our society and must be supported,” said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO.

“Homelessness is not a choice. The biggest cause of homelessness is family and domestic violence, followed by financial difficulties. The largest proportion of Australia’s homeless population is out of sight and out of mind, moving from one place to the next. Events like Homelessness Week provide a significant opportunity to raise awareness and understanding within our community of homelessness”.

For further information, please contact Alex Prado, Housing Support Coordinator 03 5421 1666 or complete the form on the Contact Us page.

Rainbow Ranges with WayOut


WayOut is about to commence its Term 3 program schedule with a range of exciting new groups. The program, funded by the Department of Health & Human Services, aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender diverse young people in the Macedon Ranges.

During Term 3 WayOut will be facilitating the social group, House of Awesome and two new additions to the schedule – a parent support group for families with trans and gender diverse children and a social group specifically for trans and gender diverse young people. All events are free and located in Kyneton or Woodend, commencing on Monday 1 August.

Same sex attracted and gender diverse young people in regional Victoria have higher rates of depression and anxiety than heterosexual peers. Research funded by mental health peak bodies such as beyond blue demonstrates a need to increase awareness of discrimination in the community which can have a profound impact on the mental health of a young person, influence a person’s sense of physical safety, inclusion, and community and family support. Young people who do not experience sexuality/gender based discrimination are significantly more likely to feel safe in all facets of their lives, have increased feelings of self-worth and feel a stronger sense of community connectedness.

“WayOut continues to make a significant difference in the lives of young people in our area. The program achieves this through the organisation of community events, providing training to services locally and creating social opportunities that empower young people to have control over their own health outcomes”, said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO.

For further details about WayOut’s Term 3 schedule of events please contact Cobaw on (03) 5421 6666 or complete the form on the Contact Us page.

Macedon Ranges stands with Orlando

Cobaw Community Health is inviting the LGBTIQ community, friends and allies in the Macedon Ranges to sign a book of condolence for the victims of the recent tragedy in Orlando.

The condolence book will be located at Cobaw’s main office, 47 High Street Kyneton, from Monday 20 June to Wednesday 22 June between 9am-5pm. Not only is the book a way for people to show their support, it also provides the opportunity to say ‘no’ to any form of hate or violence.

Following circulation at VACountry in Bendigo and Cobaw in Kyneton, the book will be sent to an equality organisation in Orlando.

Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO believes that while the tragedy of Orlando has left many in grief and now in recovery, the secondary and tertiary effects of this event are yet to be seen.

“Now, more than ever, is the time for us to be aware of the things that divide us, to make an effort to focus on and build what can and does unite us. We urge anyone who is struggling at the moment to reach out to family and friends, or access the many resources available at Cobaw Community Health”.

For support contact the Cobaw Intake team on (03) 5421 1666.

Messages of condolence for the people of Orlando may also be submitted electronically through a register organised by the Victorian Government: