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.”

What does zero discrimination mean to you?

Openhouse Macedon Ranges and Cobaw Community Health’s WayOut program are hosting the LGBTI Equality Roadshow in Kyneton on Zero Discrimination Day, Thursday 1 March.Open house Macedon Ranges rainbow logo

The LGBTI Equality Roadshow was developed to help connect community members across towns in Victoria, reduce discrimination and promote the inclusion of LGBTI people in rural and regional life. The Victorian Government’s first Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality, Ro Allen, is leading the Roadshow to help form these critical partnerships between community members and services.

At the Roadshow attendees can learn about the latest research evidence of LGBTI experiences, terminology and frameworks for responding effectively, and hear from the Gender and Sexuality Commissioner about the work the Victorian Government is undertaking in the LGBTI space. There will also be a panel of experts discuss what zero discrimination means to them with the opportunity for attendees to ask questions. The panel includes Ro Allen, Harry McAnulty – Victorian Aids Council in Bendigo, Reverend Wendy Elson – Uniting Church, and Dr Susi Fox – Equinox Gender Centre and Ranges Medical Centre, as well as Kieran and Bella, two young people from the Macedon Ranges who identify as LGBTIQ+.

The Roadshow aims to:

  • Raise awareness of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and intersexphobia
  • Reduce discrimination encountered by LGBTI communities
  • Build inclusive practice understanding and capability of government and council staff, community workers and health practitioners in regional locations
  • Recognise the work and achievements of regional and rural programs supporting LGBTI equality
  • Create network and connections between LGBTI leaders and organisations, rural and regional service providers and local government.

The Equality Roadshow will be arriving in Kyneton on Thursday 1 March at the Bluestone Theatre, 28 Hutton Street from 9:30am-12:30pm with all community members welcome to attend. Cobaw staff will be available to respond to enquiries or provide further LGBTIQ+ specific information at the event. Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided with RSVPs encouraged. For further information or to RSVP contact Cobaw Community Health on 1300 0 26229 or

To find out more about the WayOut LGBTIQ+ program, contact 1300 0 26229 or visit the Facebook page ‘WayOut Macedon Ranges’. Openhouse Macedon Ranges can be contacted on Facebook under ‘Openhouse Macedon Ranges’.


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 & Castlemaine community health services investigating a merger

The Boards of neighbouring community health services, Cobaw Community Health (Cobaw) and Castlemaine District Community Health (CDCH) today announced they are in formal discussions to amalgamate.

Anne Bates, CDCH CEO explained, “CDCH is currently the smallest community health in the State, so for us this means an opportunity to expand the services offered in Mount Alexander Shire. The Board is seeking long-term sustainability”.

Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO explained further, “By combining forces with CDCH we are in a better position to attract funding to our region, in the first instance to support and expand our existing work. Existing collaborations between the two organisations including the School Focused Youth Service and the Central Victorian Volunteer Service will continue. In the future it means having greater opportunities to grow, adapt and meet the emerging needs of local communities as they change – including being able to deliver NDIS services across our region,” Ms McDonald said.

Due diligence processes will now begin with a view to the Boards of both organisations making final decisions about the structure of any future amalgamation, in consultation with staff, community and stakeholders. In the meantime, “it will be business as usual for both services as we go about the process. Both organisations are optimistic that the existing collaborative relationship will be formalised. We share the same vision and purpose in serving geographically similar rural communities and recognising the diversity within them,” said Ms Bates.

Ms McDonald agreed, “Our plan is based on a clear and agreed principle of equitable delivery of sustainable, increased services and the operational efficiency we can achieve together. In short, it’s a story of neighbours becoming good friends, and then taking it to the next level and formalising the relationship to become something more – together. The prospect of a closer relationship or merger is a significant opportunity for us, our employees and our unique communities,” concluded Ms McDonald.

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.

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.

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:

Cobaw wins Community Organisation of the Year Award

AGPAL & QIP awards_26

Cobaw Community Health is celebrating national recognition winning the category of the QIP Community Organisation of the Year Award. This Award recognises Cobaw for its excellence in partnerships, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusive practice, in the Community Services sector.

The Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) and Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) Excellence Awards recognise AGPAL and QIP accredited practices, organisations or services, who consistently go above and beyond to implement and embed quality improvements, have teams that love to innovate, demonstrate a dedicated approach to patient and consumer services and/or care, and have a clear understanding of related industry standards.

Dr Stephen Clark, Group Chief Executive of AGPAL and QIP said that the Awards team received a large volume of high calibre nominations from AGPAL and QIP accredited practices from around the nation.

“The AGPAL and QIP Excellence Awards recognise and reward the commitment that organisations make to quality improvement within Australia’s health care setting. I was privileged to gain a unique insight into the inspiring achievements taking place within the health care environment. I was proud that I, and our judging panel of industry experts, was able to read about Cobaw Community Health’s nomination. Their dedication to community health goes above and beyond expected standards”.

“I would like to thank all other nominees for sharing their stories and to congratulate Cobaw for being Excellence Winner in the category of QIP Community Organisation of the Year Award,” Dr Clark said.

Cobaw’s CEO Margaret McDonald and Quality Manager Julie Cairns attended a Gala Dinner in Brisbane to collect the award.

“It was a privilege to accept this acknowledgement on behalf of all the dedicated staff at Cobaw who are committed to providing high quality care and services to the Macedon Ranges community,” said Ms McDonald.

At the awards ceremony Ms McDonald spoke with the Chair of the selection panel who said that the award was highly contested and that Cobaw Community Health stood out in its application.

“The award is a huge accolade to every member of staff, our volunteers and our Directors. The values that drive each and every one of us at Cobaw show an extraordinary commitment to our clients, customers and the community.”