MSK, in collaboration with Fitness Australia, Monash University and Vicsport, is coordinating the Victorian Active Ageing Partnership (VAAP) on behalf of the Victorian Government.

VAAP eNews | Attributes of successful partnerships | Seniors physical activity PEP guide | VAAP regional seminarsBest practice frameworkVAAP self-assessment tool and resources  | Models and strategies to engage carers in physical activity | Engaging under-represented groups in physical activity  | Research and practice forums  |  Meet the VAAP teamMeet the advisory groupVAAP audit and gap analysisTransition pathways  | Contact the VAAP Team

The VAAP is a three year project that began in October 2015. It aims to increase opportunities for participation in physical activity for older Victorians, especially in areas of socio-economic disadvantage and among isolated, lonely older people not currently involved in physical activity. Find out more about the Victorian Active Ageing Partnership and how you can become involved.

Attributes of successful partnerships

The goal of this specific VAAP initiative has been to increase and strengthen partnerships that providers of physical activity programs for older people have in place that support the reach and quality of their activities. This has been achieved by:

  • a broad review of published and unpublished literature about partnership formation and maintenance;
  • a Delphi consultation with a cross-section of providers of physical activity programs for older people about the relevance and importance of different factors in successful partnership work, and;
  • interviews with a selection of program providers to compile case studies of partnerships that they are engaged with.

Following the review of the literature, two rounds of online consultation were undertaken with physical activity service providers concerning the factors that contribute to successful networks and partnerships to support program delivery and engagement with older people. The service providers represented within the consultative group were from the key stakeholder groups engaged throughout the VAAP.

The final summary of this work, ‘Building successful partnerships to promote physical activity among older people’, outlines the key attributes in the areas of partnership conditions and capacities, management, relationships and sustainability.

In addition to the final summary document, a series of three short films has been produced. These films profile a selection of program providers outlining different arrangements along the partnership continuum (i.e. networking, coordination, cooperation and/or collaboration). The providers also describe how their partnerships operate and the resultant benefits.

Seniors Physical Activity PEP Guide

The VAAP has developed a ‘Seniors Physical Activity Program Engagement and Planning (PEP) Guide’. The goal of this specific initiative was to develop a set of pre-exercise assessment questions that could be used to determine the needs, abilities and goals of older people prior to their engagement in physical activity programs, and to assist in tailoring and delivering programs that are comfortable, rewarding and beneficial.

The following steps were undertaken in the development of the Guide:

  • review of pre-exercise assessment tools that are available online and from program providers in Victoria;
  • development of a draft list of pre-exercise assessment topics aligned with the project purpose;
  • convening a short-term working group, including diverse program providers, to review and have input into the pre-exercise assessment topics;
  • refinement of the assessment topics, and development of draft assessment questions;
  • review and input into the assessment questions by the working group;
  • finalisation of the assessment questions and format;
  • review and approval of the assessment questions and forms by the working group.

It is important to note several important points:

  • the PEP Guide is not designed to replace tools that may currently be in use, but may be used to conjunction with such tools;
  • the PEP Guide can be used as a whole, or components of the Guide may be chosen to suit an organisation or service provider’s specific needs and situation;
  • while the PEP Guide is evidence-based and developed with stakeholder input, it has not been tested in practice (which would have been done, if further funding for the VAAP had been available).

VAAP regional seminars

The VAAP convened six regional seminars in the first half of 2019. Staff, managers and volunteers involved in the delivery of physical activity opportunities (including active recreation and sport) for older people attended. This included staff and volunteers from settings and organisations such as community health, fitness/leisure, sport, local government, neighbourhood houses, Men’s Sheds, U3As amongst others.

The focus of the seminars was ‘Getting Older People Active’ and involved presentations from members of the VAAP Coordination Team and local services providers, or seniors participating in local activities. Resources and tools developed through the VAAP formed the main focus of the presentations.

In total 316, people attended the seminars at six locations: Warragul, Stawell, Benalla, Bendigo, Camperdown and Bairnsdale. It was evident that, whilst many seminar participants were familiar with the VAAP, many were engaging with, and hearing about, the project for the first time. Therefore, the seminars were a great opportunity to reach service providers in regional areas, to introduce them to the VAAP and the resources and tools which have been developed through the project.

VAAP evidence-based best practice framework

To understand the characteristics and features of organisations and the workforce that are enablers and barriers to older people engaging in physical activity, an evidence synthesis was conducted. It is providing the basis for the development of an evidence-based best practice framework for community-based organisations to guide the engagement of older people in group-based physical activity. Assoc Prof Ben Smith, Project Advisor representing Monash University on the VAAP Coordination Team, has led this initiative.

In order to further refine the draft framework, a structured validation process was undertaken with organisations and group leaders in Victoria.

To find out more read the:

VAAP self-assessment tool and resources

The development of a VAAP self-assessment tool and resources (SaTR) follows on from the formulation of the evidence-based best practice framework for engaging older people in physical activity.

The SaTR has been designed to assist you review and reflect on your current programs and activities, to think about what you are currently doing and if it might need to be improved. The SaTR takes a continuous quality improvement approach and is intended as a ‘value-adding’ tool.

You can also use the SaTR as a guide if you are establishing physical activity programs for older people for the first time, or establishing new programs. The SaTR also offers ideas and resources to assist in further improving your physical activity services for older people.

Different versions of the SaTR have been created for use by fitness/leisure centres, local councils, community health centres, state sporting associations, U3As and neighbourhood houses/community centres. A version has also been specifically designed for use by YMCA fitness/leisure centres.

To find more about the SaTR and how it works, it is important that you view this short video. Duration: 6:39

Download the self-assessment tool and resources

To download and use the SaTR click on the version below that is most appropriate for your organisational setting.

If you have any queries about the SaTR, please contact the VAAP Coordination Team.

Models and strategies to engage carers in physical activity

Informal carers play a vital role in attending to the needs of family and friends with physical, cognitive and mental health conditions.

In recognition of the enormous contribution to health and welfare that is made by informal carers, the Victorian Government made a commitment to developing programs and services for this significant segment of the population. The priorities and actions that it has adopted are stated in Recognising and supporting Victoria’s carers: Victorian carer strategy 2018–22.

One of the initiatives in Year Four of the VAAP was the development of resources for relevant service providers re: models and strategies to engage carers in physical activity. This was in line with Priority 1 of the Carer Strategy that focuses on carers having better health and wellbeing.

The final report of this work Victorian Active Ageing Partnership – Models and strategies to engage carers in physical activity is now available.

The report aims to identify approaches and program delivery methods that can be used to enable physical activity participation among carers. It has been undertaken by the VAAP to guide physical activity program providers for older people in Victoria, including leisure and fitness centres, University of the Third Age, Neighbourhood Houses and Community Centres, Community Health Services and sporting organisations. The evidence provided here will also assist carer support agencies in relation to how physical activity may be incorporated into the programs they offer.

Engaging under-represented groups of older adults in physical activity

A qualitative study was undertaken within the VAAP to gather evidence to improve the design of physical activity programs, and the capacity of activity providers, to increase participation by under-represented and vulnerable older people. Within this group of older people are those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, living with a disability, culturally and linguistically diverse, or living alone. These groups were identified as being at elevated risk of isolation and loneliness in the Commissioner for Senior Victorians’ 2016 report, Ageing is Everyone’s Business. The Commissioner’s report highlighted the effects of social networks, physical functioning and mobility upon isolation. Community-based physical activity programs have a valuable role to play in addressing these factors.

The qualitative study resulted in the identification of many useful strategies for service providers to employ in better engaging under-represented groups of older adults in physical activity.

Find out more about the study and the identified strategies.

Professional development resource

A series of short films, which outlines various strategies to engage under-represented groups of older adults in physical activity, has been developed. These films are designed as a professional development resource for staff and volunteers working with older people. In line with the areas covered within the corresponding VAAP study, the three films focus on:

Click on the above links to view each of the films now.

Gain a professional development point with Physical Activity Australia (PAA)!

One professional development point (PDP) is available to members of PAA for completion of various tasks related to the engagement of under-represented groups of older adults in physical activity. The course is suitable for qualified fitness professionals such as personal trainers, gym instructors and group exercise instructors. This course would be beneficial for fitness professionals at all levels of knowledge and experience (i.e. beginners, intermediate or advanced).

Meet the members of the VAAP Coordination Team

Genevieve Nolan
Manager, Victorian Active Ageing Partnership

Gen has worked at Musculoskeletal Australia since September 2011 in the role of Programs Manager, Consumers Services. Gen has principal responsibility for the coordination of MSK’s suite of training and education programs. Prior to MSK, Gen worked in various roles within the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. With her extensive experience in project and program management, Gen will have overall responsibility for the successful implementation and completion of the VAAP project.

Prof Ben Smith
Project Advisor, Victorian Active Ageing Partnership

Ben is based in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, and holds an adjunct position in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.

Chris Alexander
Manager of Standard & Development at Fitness Australia, the Health and Fitness Industry Association

Chris Alexander is the Manager of Standard & Development at Fitness Australia, the Health and Fitness Industry Association. He has over 15 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry. Chris worked across a number of health promotion projects including Lift for Life, strength training program and Get Healthy Information & Coaching Service. He’s worked at medical clinics and provided fitness education for many years delivering and managing a registered training organisation. Chris is also practicing Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

Tom Dixon
Participation Strategy Manager, Vicsport

Tom has worked at Vicsport since October 2016 as the Participation Strategy Manager. Tom’s previous positions included roles at Tennis Victoria and Cycling Victoria.
With a diverse educational background, Tom has completed his Masters in Sport Management as well having a Bachelor in History, Anthropology and Politics. In his role, Tom is the first ‘port of call’ for members regarding participation and development. This includes the delivery of the VicHealth State Sport Program and Regional Sport Program physical activity initiatives and inclusion strategies.

Meet the VAAP Project Advisory Group

The VAAP Project Advisory Group (PAG) provides experience and sector-based knowledge and advice to assist with promoting, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the VAAP.

For the Project Advisory Group’s Terms of Reference please click here.

The members of the PAG are as follows:

  • Jan Bruce, Positive Ageing Policy Adviser, Municipal Association of Victoria
  • Laura Cattapan, Coordinator Access & Inclusion, City of Port Phillip
  • Clare Corbet, Sector Development Officer, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria
  • Gerald Dixon, Centre Manager, YMCA Victoria
  • Robyn Grant, Team Leader – Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, Sunbury Community Health
  • Shauna Jones, Manager, Health and Community Activation, Parks Victoria
  • Chris Lacey, Victorian State Manager, Reclink Australia
  • Gabrielle Lindsay Smith, PhD Student, Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University
  • Elsie Mutton, Course Administrator and Vice-President of U3A Nunawading
  • Helen Parker, Senior Policy Officer – Active and Healthy Ageing, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jonathan Pietsch, Special Projects – LLLS and Social Enterprises, COTA Victoria
  • Samantha Sharp, Director of Commissioning and Performance, Western Victoria Primary Health Network Ltd.

The members of the VAAP Coordination Team are ex officio members of the VAAP PAG.

Physical activity for older Victorians: VAAP audit and gap analysis

An audit was undertaken by the VAAP Coordination Team in 2015-2016 to examine the availability, variety and accessibility of physical activity opportunities for older Victorians.

The aims of the data audit and gap analysis were:

  • To gain information in relation to the availability, variety and accessibility of physical activity opportunities for older Victorians
  • To identify the gaps in the availability, variety and accessibility of physical activity opportunities for older Victorians
  • To provide baseline information to guide the future work of the VAAP
  • To provide information that may be used to guide work by external organisations. The audit examined structured physical activity programs incorporating fitness, strength, balance and flexibility within each Victorian local government area.

To find out more read the:

Transition pathways – Key elements to maximise the sustainability of exercise

After a health event, which may affect their physical mobility and functioning, older people often undertake a structured and supported rehabilitation program to rebuild their mobility, physical functioning and self-confidence. At the end of these programs, it is important that they transition well to another community-based setting to continue their exercise and physical activity. Well functioning transition pathways will assist in maximising the older person’s continuation and sustained engagement in exercise.

A qualitative study was undertaken within the VAAP examining existing pathways governing the transition of older people from a formal, supervised program to independent, community-based exercise. The aim of the study was to determine the features and factors of these pathways, which act as enablers and barriers to the achievement of their desired outcomes.

Read the key elements of transition pathways, which have been identified as maximising the sustainability of exercise.

VAAP eNews

During the course of the VAAP, the VAAP eNews was produced and distributed three times a year. It aimed to allow service providers of PA opportunities for older people to:

  • stay up-to-date with the activities and progress of the VAAP
  • be informed of news and updates from the broader field of physical activity for older people
  • read about good practice examples
  • be linked to other organisations, groups and clubs that provide physical activity opportunities for older Victorians.

Read past editions:

Contact the VAAP Coordination Team

To get in touch with the VAAP Coordination Team, please contact:

Gen Nolan
03 8531 8018 | 1800 263 265

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