VAAP eNews

Edition 7 – March 2018


Year Three of the VAAP is underway | Strategies to better engage under-represented groups of older people | Supported pilot re: VAAP draft self-assessment tool and resources underway | Date set for 2018 VAAP Research and Practice Forum


State-of-the-art gyms help seniors age well | Healthy Parks, Healthy People | LIVE WELL Corangamite – An Age-friendly communities project |New ideas and variations for Living Longer Living Stronger™ (LLLS) instructors


Strategies to promote respect and social inclusion among older adults | Increasing adherence to prescribed exercise by older people |Facilitators of attendance and adherence to group-based physical activity


PA guidelines for older Australians with mild cognitive impairment | Nominations for Victorian Senior of the Year awards open soon


Partially-subsidised online short course in exercise prescription for falls prevention for fitness professionals |Optimising exercise programs for older people to improve balance and prevent falls | Victorian Active Ageing partnership 2018 Research and Practice Forum |National Sports Convention


Year Three of the VAAP is underway

The aims for Year Three of the Victorian Active Ageing Partnership (VAAP) are:

  1. To consolidate the impact of the VAAP by embedding into practice the strategies and tools developed in Years One and Two;
  2. To improve the awareness, knowledge and skills and of service providers in the delivery of inclusive physical activity programs for older people;
  3. To improve the quality (i.e. accessibility, appropriateness, safety, etc) of physical activity opportunities for older people;
  4. To support and enhance existing networks of service providers involved in the provision of physical activity opportunities for older people;
  5. To evaluate the process and impact of the VAAP.

Some of the key initiatives to be undertaken during Year Three will include:

  1. Identifying the mechanisms and current processes governing professional development (PD) in the various sectors involved in the VAAP to inform the development of suitable VAAP PD initiatives;
  2. Developing various PD initiatives – some of which may be appropriate for specific target groups of service providers and some which may be generic in content;
  3. Identifying existing service provider networks for capacity-building initiatives and facilitating the sustainability of VAAP-initiated improvements and learning;
  4. Building on PD initiatives being undertaken by other stakeholder groups;
  5. Piloting and finalising the VAAP self-assessment tool and resources (SaTR) ready for incorporation in PD initiatives and its promotion for broader implementation;
  6. Conducting the annual VAAP ‘Research and Practice Forum’ as part of the broader capacity-building approach;
  7. Gathering evidence from documentation and stakeholders re: the process and impact of the VAAP.

Strategies to better engage under-represented groups of older people

Engagement in organised physical activity is known to impart physical, mental and social benefits to older people and to support healthy and independent ageing. Facilitators and barriers to participation across the general population of older Australians have been reported, yet there has been limited understanding of the factors affecting awareness, attendance and adherence to physical activity programs by those experiencing higher needs and social disadvantage.

A qualitative study, undertaken within the VAAP and led by Assoc Prof Ben Smith from Monash University, gathered evidence to improve the design of physical activity programs and the capacity of activity providers to increase participation by ‘hard to reach’ groups of older people. These groups include those older people who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, living with a disability, culturally and linguistically diverse or socially isolated.

A summary of the findings of the study, which includes suggested strategies for service providers, is now available via the following link:

Supported pilot re: VAAP draft self-assessment tool and resources underway

A key initiative within the VAAP over the last 12 months has been the development of a self-assessment tool and resources (SaTR) based on the VAAP evidence-based best practice framework for the engagement of older people in physical activity. The SaTR takes a continuous quality improvement approach and is intended as a ‘value-adding’ tool.

The different versions of the SaTR have been developed for use by fitness/leisure centres, local councils and community health centres, state sporting associations, U3As and neighbourhood houses.

Twelve organisations are currently trialling the current draft versions of the SaTR. Their feedback will then be used to finalise the SaTR before it is rolled out more broadly in the second half of the year. The VAAP Coordination Team are very grateful for the participation in the pilot of the following organisations:

  • Aquahub, Croydon
  • Ballarat Community Health Service
  • Castlemaine District Community Health Service
  • Caulfield Community Health Service
  • City of Melton
  • City of Warrnambool
  • Cycling Victoria
  • Gymnastics Victoria
  • Mitcham Community House
  • Nunawading U3A
  • Selby Community House
  • Whittlesea U3A

If your organisation is interested in receiving information about the SaTR when it is finalised, please contact Genevieve Nolan on 8531 8018.

Date set for 2018 VAAP Research and Practice Forum

In 2018, the VAAP Research and Practice Forum will be held between 9.30am–3.00pm on Thursday 23 August. It will be held again at Rydges Hotel on Exhibition St in central Melbourne.

The overall purpose of the Forum is to improve the knowledge and capacity of relevant service providers to successfully engage older people in physical activity opportunities.

Continuous professional development accreditation will be sought from relevant professional associations, such as Physical Activity Australia and Fitness Australia.

To register your interest in attending the 2018 VAAP Research and Practice Forum, please register here.

Further details regarding attendance arrangements and program details will be available in the coming months.


State-of-the-art gyms help seniors age well

Uniting AgeWell has expanded its state-of-the-art seniors’ gym service to ensure more older Victorians can access tailored health programs to help them age well.

The not-for-profit aged care provider has opened two new gyms in Oakleigh and Noble Park featuring the unique Helsinki University Research (HUR) equipment.

The air-resistance equipment is fitted with a smart card system that automatically sets the correct resistance and supports users through their individually designed and tailored workouts.

HUR gym programs include specific training for a number of conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, mobility and balance issues, as well as restoring and improving functional ability, strength, fitness and flexibility.

On-site allied health professionals regularly adjust users’ workout programs at the fully supervised and supported gym.

Uniting AgeWell introduced its first HUR Gym at its Strathdon Allied Health and Therapy Centre at Forest Hill in 2015, and it is now used by more than 350 people each week.

The new HUR gyms are located at Uniting AgeWell’s Allied Health and Therapy Centre in Noble Park and the Oakleigh Community Hub.

Uniting AgeWell CEO, Andrew Kinnersly, said the HUR Gym portfolio was expanded in response to a growing need for more specialised and tailored exercise programs for seniors.

‘Remaining active as people age is an essential ingredient to maintaining physical health and mental wellbeing,’ Mr Kinnersly said.

‘We believe seniors in the broader community, and younger people with disabilities, will benefit from access to this innovative program.’

For HUR Gym client, Mima Mitchell, the social support and connections she has made through the HUR gym have been just as important as the tailored exercise programs, adding extra motivation to keep up her program.

‘It’s good to have other people around to support each other,’ she said.

‘It’s all geared to your body by the exercise physiologist, and because it’s a managed program, you can just do it at your own pace.’

For more information about the HUR Gym program or your nearest facility, contact Uniting AgeWell on 1300 783 435.

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Amanda Mehegan, Project Manager, HUR Gym, Uniting AgeWell.

Healthy Parks, Healthy People

Global research is showing that nature is helping people deal with many health challenges they face today. Parks Victoria’s ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy People’ approach to park management aims to get people of all ages and abilities into parks, and enjoying the health benefits of doing so. It offers opportunities for older people to get active outdoors; walking, riding bikes, volunteering or kicking a ball with the grandchildren.

Welcome Walks is a new program aimed at getting people walking in parks on safe and easy tracks that have open surroundings, no loose dogs and are well signposted. This makes older people more confident to try walking.

Join a Walk at ParkConnect.

Volunteering in parks is a great way to get active outdoors, meet new people and contribute to conserving nature. The benefits include learning about plants and wildlife, gaining new skills and improving health and wellbeing.

Programs and Facilities are available across the state for people with mobility limitations to experience the joys of natural environments:

  • TrailRider wheelchairs are available to explore trails not accessible with conventional wheelchairs in the Grampians, Alpine, Dandenongs, Yarra Ranges and Great Otways National Parks. Sherpa volunteers can assist visitors in TrailRider chairs on selected tracks in the Grampians and Dandenong Ranges National Parks
  • Beach wheelchairs are available at Cape Conran Coastal Park, Wilsons Promontory and Point Nepean National Parks.
  • Accessible accommodation is available at Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory National Park, with a wheelchair-friendly kitchen, wheelchair accessible bathroom and a queen-size electric hi/lo bed. Supportive seating and bathroom equipment is also available.
  • The Changing Places facility at Arthur’s Seat State Park, Mornington Peninsula, for visitors with significant physical issues. It has a height adjustable adult change bench, ceiling hoist and accessible toilet and shower.
  • The electric stair-climber at Buchan Caves takes children and adults up to 60kg, to visit the spectacular Fairy Cave, normally inaccessible due to the many steps and narrow passageways.

More information about each of these initiatives is available at Parks Victoria.

Visit for information on parks to enjoy and how your community can get active in parks. Contact Anthea Dee, Healthy Communities Coordinator on 0439 045 781.

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Sally Nowlan, Communications Advisor, Parks Victoria.

LIVE WELL Corangamite – An Age-friendly communities project

A Victorian Government Age-friendly Communities Grant has enabled the Corangamite Shire to focus attention on what it means to live well in our communities as we get older.

Several months of community conversations underpinned by asset-based community development principles (1) allowed Corangamite Shire staff to understand that the project their communities wanted to be involved in was about strengthening social connections and preventing loneliness.

Live Well Project Goal: “To shine a light on social connection through life-long learning, physical activity, the arts and volunteering so that individuals live well and communities become more age-friendly.

  • Lifelong learning keeps the brain active, links people to libraries and brings people with common interests together in clubs and community groups. The Corangamite U3A established in 2016 has become an important project partner. The digital divide limits learning and access to information including community information about what is on and when. Group sessions for older people to access the internet and build their skills will be trialled.
  • Physical activity that matches people’s interests and needs, brings people together for fun, friendship and fitness. Many forms of physical activity are valuable however structured exercise sessions delivered by qualified exercise professionals have a unique role in enabling people to safely start or return to exercise and stay involved for the long term. The links to health service programs was integral to the decision for the project to focus on structured exercise, as people seek to transition from time-limited rehabilitation programs to community-based options.
  • The Live Well Exercise Network will be trialled during 2018. Personal trainers, fitness instructors, allied health assistants and other exercise professionals in Corangamite Shire have been invited to join the network which aims to share best practice active ageing exercise principles, as well identify areas for growth and create local professional development opportunities. Let’s see how it goes!
  • The Arts bring people together to enjoy creative experiences. Music, dance, theatre, film, books, art and galleries are all valuable ways for people of any age to connect.
  • Volunteering is an indication of the health and wellbeing of a community. The Live Well Project is not about making busy people busier, but rather it invites people to volunteer /contribute so that their talents are not overlooked and the community gets the benefit of their involvement.

The Live Well Project has a webpage that is evolving as the project evolves. The project concludes in March 2019.

(1) Asset-based community development (ABCD) is a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action.

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Clare Vaughan, Age-friendly Communities Project Officer, Corangamite Shire Council.

New ideas and variations for Living Longer Living Stronger™ (LLLS) instructors

Strength training has benefits at any age, but it is particularly important for older people. As people age, they lose muscle mass and bone density, resulting in the much of the loss of function often associated with getting older. Living Longer Living Stronger™ partners provide strength training programs specifically designed to meet the needs of older people

A workshop titled ‘New ideas and variations for LLLS instructors’ will be held on Tuesday 1 May from 12 noon–3.30pm (lunch included).

The aim of the workshop is to assist in providing the best evidence-based LLLS program – one that is varied and incorporates progressions/ modifications based on the functional needs of the older person. The workshop will help to ensure that programs are introducing new ideas, progressions and variations for all participants.

What participants will learn:

  • Education on evidence-based exercises targeted towards older adults with chronic diseases and illnesses
  • Functional exercises proven to prolong independence, increased quality of life and reducing preventative diseases
  • How to provide a safe group exercise environment with increasing numbers
  • How to safely and accurately measure client decline/progress
  • SMART goal setting with clients and how to break down barriers to exercise and increase exercise adherence.

This training workshop will be led by Alfred Health – Caulfield Community Health Service (CCHS) staff:

  • Clint Wilkie, Population Health Team Leader, APA Musculoskeletal & Sports Physiotherapist: Clint has worked in the public and private sectors in Australia, England and Ireland. He is enthusiastic and committed to quality outcomes for older adults; having re-organised and implemented client-centred team approaches to older adult exercise service delivery and management.
  • Sara Marwick, Senior Exercise Physiologist (Accredited Exercise Physiologist): Sara has worked predominantly with older adults for the past 12 years in both community health and rehabilitation and in a private capacity. She prides herself on her ability to assess her clients’ individual goals and needs to write dynamic, high quality exercise programs. Sara has seen firsthand what an appropriately written exercise program can do to keep older adults functioning independently and to see improvements in their quality of life.

Clint and Sara support and supervise the ‘CCHS LLLS – Healthy Living Program’ which delivers 88 group sessions a week for almost 900 older adults. They will share their practical experiences and highlight some of the key changes they have introduced over the past 12 months.

Where: In the city at COTA Victoria’s new offices Level 4, 533 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. (Train to Flagstaff or park at the Victoria Market car park for around $25.)

Cost: $150 (includes GST) for members and $200 (includes GST) for non-members.

Book online by Friday 27th April

COTA Victoria are currently applying for a PDP point from Physical Activity Australia and CEC points from Fitness Australia.

This article was submitted to the VAAP newsletter by Jonathan Pietsch, Special Projects, LLLS and Social Enterprise, COTA Victoria.


Strategies to promote respect and social inclusion among older adults

Opportunities for social interaction, the maintenance of self-esteem and the development of positive attitudes towards ageing can make a significant contribution to the well-being and independence of older people. Group-based physical activity programs may offer many of these benefits, and program providers should have an understanding of how these experiences can be generated for older people. This systematic review provides useful evidence for these purposes, as it investigated the health impacts of different interventions to promote respect and social inclusion among older people, and the features of these interventions which lead to positive outcomes.

The review included 23 quantitative, 6 qualitative and 11 mixed methods studies that were published between 1990 and 2015 and involved adults aged 60 years and over. Only studies that examined group-based interventions were included, and these were classified into seven categories: mentoring programs; intergenerational activities; dancing; music and singing; art and culture; information and communication strategies; and, multi-activity programmes. Several of the multi-activity programs included a physical activity component.

While most of the studies (24/40) were considered to be at moderate to high risk of bias, it was found that music and singing, intergenerational interventions, art and culture and multi-activity interventions were associated with positive health outcomes. These included reduced depression and stress, improved wellbeing and quality of life. While there was not clear evidence about the health benefits of dancing interventions, in the qualitative explorations older people reported that these programs improved their well-being and made them feel capable despite their health difficulties. Qualitative investigations related to multi-activity programs found that older participants appreciated feeling valued, the social interactions and achieving greater self-worth and self-care.

The complete article can be viewed at: Ronzi S, Orton L, Pope D, Valtorta NK, Bruce NG. ‘What is the impact on health and wellbeing of interventions that foster respect and social inclusion in community-residing older adults? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies’. Systematic Reviews. 2018; 7(1):26.

Available at:

Increasing adherence to prescribed exercise by older people

Exercise is widely prescribed as a therapy for older people with chronic disease, recent injury, or who are at high risk of poor health outcomes. A number of older people who attend physical activity groups, particularly those run by community health services and fitness centres, are doing so following advice from a health professional. An important concern for these professionals, and for the providers of physical activity programs, is how to promote ongoing adherence among those who attend. This systematic review investigates the effectiveness of interventions to improve adherence to prescribed exercise in older people and the behavioural techniques that are adopted within these interventions.

The review was limited to randomised controlled trials (N=11) that tested an intervention to improve exercise adherence in people with a mean age of 65 years and over. The exercise prescribed across the 11 studies included group, individually supervised and home-based programs. The adherence interventions that were trialled comprised different modes of exercise instruction (i.e. audio and video vs written), feedback and monitoring, social support, communication of exercise benefits, training in belief modification about exercise, and goal setting and planning.

The authors reported that the risk of bias in the included studies was moderate to high. Four of the studies showed a positive adherence outcome, and three of these utilised feedback and monitoring. The effective feedback and monitoring strategies were: support by telecommunication or in a community-based class; supervised exercise and motivation classes; and graphic feedback provided by a health professional. Seven of the eleven studies did not report use of a behavioural theory in the adherence intervention. Those that did applied social learning theory, socio-emotional selectivity theory or cognitive behavioural techniques.

The full report of this study is provided at: Room J, Hannink E, Dawes H, Barker K. ‘What interventions are used to improve exercise adherence in older people and what behavioural techniques are they based on? A systematic review’. BMJ Open. 2017; 7(12):e019221.

Available at:

Facilitators of attendance and adherence to group-based physical activity

A priority for the Victorian Active Ageing Partnership (VAAP) is to improve the capacity of physical activity program providers to successfully engage and retain older people, especially those from disadvantaged and under-represented groups. An early step taken by the VAAP Coordination Team was to undertake a wide ranging review of the published evidence concerning the actions that group-based physical activity providers can take to improve attendance and adherence by older people. This work lead to the development of the VAAP Best Practice Framework for Engaging Older People in Physical Activity, and the peer-reviewed literature underpinning this is summarised in this article in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.

The review includes 8 quantitative and 13 qualitative studies that were published between 1995 and 2016. Inclusion criteria for the studies were that they reported on actions taken within group-based physical activity programs provided for community-dwelling adults aged 55 years and over.

A number of social factors, including connectedness, support and group cohesion were found to play a significant role in improving engagement by older people. Longer-term adherence was associated with homogeneity among participants, both in terms of sex and culture. Tailoring programs to the needs, preferences, and abilities of participants was a prominent factor found to support attendance and adherence. Practical considerations, particularly affordable cost and convenient location, also affected short- and longer-term participation. Other important factors identified were instructor characteristics and leadership style, class duration and frequency, physical activity type, and the presence of observable benefits for participants.

The full article can be found at: de Lacy-Vawdon CJ, Klein R, Schwarzman J, Nolan G, de Silva R, Menzies D, Smith BJ. ‘Facilitators of attendance and adherence to group-based physical activity for older adults: a literature synthesis’. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 2018; 26(1):155-67. Access to the article may depend on your institutional rights.


PA guidelines for older Australians with mild cognitive impairment

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Australians with Mild Cognitive Decline (MCD) or Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) have been designed to inform older adults, health care providers, and policy makers about the current evidence on the health benefits of physical activity for older adults with MCI or SCD. The guidelines are relevant to individuals aged 60 years and over, who have MCI or SCD.

The guidelines were developed according to a pre-specified protocol of consultation, drafting, and feedback amongst collaborators, international advisors and consumer groups. The main questions addressed in the guidelines are: ‘What are the benefits of physical activity in older adults with MCI or SCD?’ and ‘What is the most beneficial physical activity type, frequency, intensity, duration and setting?’

This project was funded by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres and led by staff at The University of Melbourne.

The guidelines are available at :

A lay version of the guidelines has also been developed for consumers:

Nominations for Victorian Senior of the Year awards open soon

Nominations open soon for the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards. Do you know an older Victorian who contributes to their community, whether it be in a leadership role or a ‘behind the scenes’ person?

You can nominate them for;

  • Premier’s Award for Victorian Senior of the Year
  • Promotion of Multiculturalism Award
  • Healthy and Active Living Award
  • Veteran Community Award
  • COTA Victoria Senior Achiever Awards
  • Age-Friendly Victoria Award – for organisations or businesses that support and encourage older Victorians to participate in their community.

Download a nomination form at

For more information or help with completing the form call Seniors Information Victoria on 1300 135 090 or email

Nominations close Friday 20 July 2018.


Partially-subsidised online short course in exercise prescription for falls prevention for fitness professionals

A short course on Falls Prevention will be run through Monash University. The course is aimed at fitness professionals who work with older adults. The course is accredited through Fitness Australia and Physical Activity Australia and upon completion will entitle you to CECs (6) and PDPs (2) respectively.

The course is on ‘Exercise Prescription for Falls Prevention’ and has been designed by falls experts led by NHMRC Excellence Award winner, Prof Terry Haines.

Date: Monday 9th of April, 2018 until Sunday 6th of May, 2018 Delivery: This course is conducted online.

Facilitation: Active facilitation provided throughout the course by experts in the field of clinical and research-related falls prevention.

Queries: Direct to Dina Pogrebnoy

Registrations close Wednesday 28th of March, 2018

Cost: The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services has partially subsidised 60 places in this course to offer an opportunity for fitness professionals working with older adults to develop further skills in the area of exercise prescription for falls prevention. The cost to partially subsidised participants will be $85 (instead of $385).

Please indicate whether you would like to apply for a partially subsidised place on the registration form. Once all registrations have been received the course facilitator will advise if a place has been granted and payment instructions for the participant contribution ($85). A partially subsidised spot is at the discretion of the Department of Health & Human Services and their decision is final.

For participants who do not meet the above criteria or express interest in the course once the 60 partially subsidised places have been filled, the cost to participate in this online course will be $385. Payment details will be sent upon completion of registration.

Participants will be required to complete a short online course evaluation and knowledge test before receiving a certificate for attending the course. A two-week timeframe will be allocated for the completion of the online knowledge test and post course evaluation after the four-week online course as per above dates.

To register:
Please fill in a registration form which can be found via this link:

Optimising exercise programs for older people to improve balance and prevent falls

Registrations are now open for the short course ‘Optimising exercise programs for older people to improve balance and prevent falls’. This course has been developed by leading falls prevention researchers and health professionals to provide evidence-based information on how to design and deliver falls prevention exercise programs. It is suitable for everyone from physiotherapists and occupational therapists, to researchers, educators, and academics.

Short course details:

Date: Friday, 15th June 2018

Time: 9:00am—3:00pm

Venue: School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Ground Floor, Conference Rooms 1, 2 & 3, 553 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004

Cost: $350 pp (including catering)

Who should attend: Fitness professionals, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, health educators, fitness educators, health promotion practitioners, researchers, academics.

For further information, please view the short course promotional flyer.

For any queries about this event, please contact staff at or 9903 0693.

Victorian Active Ageing Partnership 2018 Research and Practice Forum

Date: Thursday 23 August 2018

Venue: Rydges on Exhibition Melbourne

Register here.

National Sports Convention

Date: Monday 16–Wednesday 18 July 2018

Venue: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Find out more.

musculoskeletal health australia

Musculoskeletal Health Australia (or MHA) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

Useful Links

Copyright by Musculoskeletal Health Australia 2024. All rights reserved

ABN: 26 811 336 442ACN: 607 996 921