ISOLATION and public transport are among the big challenges facing rural areas, a visiting University of NSW associate professor said yesterday.
Susan Thompson said rural areas were more inclined to be dominated by cars, meaning people were isolated and not interacting in a personal way.
“If people are using public transport it means they have to do some walking to the train station or bus stop where they are out and about and possibly meeting people,” she said.
The director of the Healthy Built Environments Program at UNSW was in Albury to present a one-day workshop on the NSW Planning System, to enable health professionals and the council town planners to better engage with a range of planning proposals.
Professor Thompson said the program at UNSW, funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, aimed to support the development of current and future communities in NSW by ensuring that the built environment promotes good health for all.
“It’s about making where we live supportive of people being healthy as part of everyday living,” she said.
“This means being active, having big open spaces and getting access to healthy food.
“We have had parks and other big open spaces for a long time, but it’s about placing a value on them and making sure they are always there for the good of the planet.”
Professor Thompson said some of the program’s ideas were being adopted in Europe, the US and Australia.
“Countries are realising that the rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases are largely preventable by being healthy and exercising,” she said.
“But being healthy and exercising is related to how we live in cities.”
Town planner Dr Danny Wiggins is helping present the 10 workshops across NSW and said yesterday’s event at Albury Council’s Robert Brown Room was well attended.
Dr Wiggins said the Albury event was the sixth in the series.