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Commission WEBSITE: Healthy Community Projects

Rural Health examples


(Community Health Adolescent Murraylands Peer Support)

CHAMPS is a project

for young people aged between 13 and 18 in the Murraylands Region of South

Australia. CHAMPS holds youth forums twice each school term informally

discussing youth issues in the area. Thirty young people from different

cultural and social backgrounds throughout the region make up the forum.

Issues like mental health and peer support are discussed.


CHAMPS seeks to address

social justice issues and foster practices of inclusion both of and between

young people. Social justice issues pertinent to the Murraylands rural

area include isolation/distance, gender equity, racism, classism, learning

disabilities and heterosexism. Further, important to the practice of inclusion

is the acknowledgment and valuing the personal resources each of the young

people brought to the project.

The goal of the forum

is to improve the health and well being of young people in the Murraylands

region by enabling them to have a voice in shaping the way in which services

are provided to youth. It also aims to promote positive health for young

people by encouraging them to participate in health promotion activities.

In our

society, it is the adults who have most of the say about what happens

to people. They make the decisions about lots of things in young people's

lives. Sometimes these decisions are helpful decisions, sometimes they

are not. Many times, adults make decisions without checking how young

people feel or what they think about them. If adults talked more with

young people about decisions that have to be made, really listened to

young people and used their ideas, this would mean they are trying to

work in partnership with young people.

(from K Stacy in M Carr-Gregg et. al. (eds) Harnessing Peer Influence

in Adolescent Health Promotion, 1997, Melbourne for Centre for Adolescent


What the Program does

  • CHAMPS by the

    River - a youth-designed youth-friendly recreation area in Murray


  • CHAMPS Camp

    - a camp which incorporated extensive planning for projects.

  • Media Liaison

    - where young people write for and/or participate in media activities.

  • YARN (Youth

    Access and Resource Network) a young person to young person peer support

    phone service.

  • CHAMPS Youth

    Art - free workshops to promote youth art and prepare a piece of public


  • The Rage Cage

    - a sporting facility consisting of a court designed for a variety

    of ball sports and skating in a safe youth friendly environment.

  • Youth participation

    in consultations with government and other agencies and community


  • Talking Together:

    Young People Educating Adults - Inaugural CHAMPS Conference to educate

    adult health, welfare, educational workers and community members on

    youth friendly practice, the principles of youth partnership accountability

    and discuss the community's commitment to supporting a sustainable

    future for CHAMPS.

The official opening of the bike track, CHAMPS members riding through the ribbon while representatives of the media look on.


The official opening of the bike track, CHAMPS members riding through

the ribbon

while representatives of the media look on.

In April 2000 CHAMPS

hosted a statewide youth camp/conference called RnR (Rural and Rap) for

young people involved in youth projects or community work in rural South

Australia. Young people from Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Kangaroo Island, the

Southern Fluerieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Torrens Valley and the Murray

Mallee attended the camp along with their adult support workers.

The theme of the

camp was safe alcohol use for young people as well as addressing the need

for young people to have input into policy formation. Workshops were held

with representatives from the Policy and Planning Divisions of the SA

Department of Human Resources, which meant that young people had direct

input into the background paper which will eventually form the Department's

youth policy. Other workshops involved work with an artist, a musician

and a drama teacher resulting in artworks being produced, drama skits

performed and a song being written.

The camp was so successful

it will become an annual event during Youth Week in South Australia. Next

year's camp will be called R2R (Race to Reconcile) and will focus on South

Australian Indigenous culture, especially young Indigenous people.



makes it successful

  • Management support

    is fundamental to the effective running of the Program. Due to the

    unorthodox management methods implemented, a supportive management

    is needed. For example, taking young people away on a camp or building

    a bike track/skate park is outside the 'normal' business of the State

    Government's Community Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). But

    the support that CAMHS has given to CHAMPS has added to its success.

  • Fun! Enjoyment

    was a key element in keeping young people interested and involved.

    Many young people identified one of the things they liked best about

    CHAMPS was meeting new people which was made possible by the involvement

    of young people from outlying areas.

  • Young people

    can say what they feel and others, especially adults, will take their

    ideas seriously. They know this because real, tangible things happen

    - they know they've had an influence.

A young person enjoying the completed skate ramp.
Image: A young

person enjoying the completed skate ramp.






Difficulties encountered

While CHAMPS has

received funding from a variety of sources for 'one off' events or short

term projects, it is ongoing funding that is critical to the development

of the Program especially with regards to its long term goals.

Cindy Turner is the

Co-ordinator of CHAMPS. She argues,


types of projects should not be short term. It is not ethical to set up

a youth participation Program for the short term and then say 'thank you

we have to finish now the money has run out'. Sustainability should be

addressed from the beginning and young people should always be fully informed

of this.

Cindy further suggests

that others wanting to set up a similar project should cite the success

of CHAMPS when applying for ongoing funding.

To ensure real equity

to young people in rural and regional areas consideration is given to

things like transport when allocating the budget. Crucial to the success

of the Program are things like picking young people up and driving them

to the meeting place. This makes forums truly accessible to young people.

Also important to the process is budgeting for food and drink.


as we adults like to socialise around food and drink this is a crucial

ice breaker for young people and it should be youth food and drink, not

just tea and coffee. The young people here constantly comment on the food

and drinks and how they love it. It is an important and legitimate expense.

Funding sources

The initial funding

for CHAMPS was a Primary Health Care Advancement Grant from the South

Australian Health Commission for a 13-month period. The project was also

successful in obtaining a grant from the Australian Youth Foundation to

build an outdoor youth recreation area in Murray Bridge. After the initial

funding period ended funding for an additional period of 11 months was

obtained from the SA Health Commission.