Vic Health recently featured the Shepparton Culture Kitchen Program in an article around what can happen when partnerships place community in the driver’s seat. Everyone has to eat, and food is a great connector to bring people together and create change.
Multicultural Arts Victoria, Victoria’s leading organisation on diversity in the arts, partnered with Greater Shepparton City Council on the project. MAV CEO, Veronica Pardo explains that empowering a community should be a priority for all public health promotion.
“Arts and cultural activities are the ideal vehicle to navigate health inequities. We believe our approach used for the Shepparton Culture Kitchen will lay a solid foundation for an ambitious social movement that enables vibrant partnerships across governments, organisations and especially community,” said Pardo.
Background to the Shepparton Culture Kitchen program
For over 10 years, Multicultural Arts Victoria has worked on a variety of programs with different communities across the Shepparton region. Time and experience has helped them develop a strong knowledge of the challenges facing the Shepparton community and build an effective partnership with Greater Shepparton City Council. Ultimately this has ensured the program responds effectively to the specific health issues faced by different communities the region.
Research found that 54% of Shepparton residents do not meet the dietary guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption and 58.7% are above a healthy weight (compared to the Victorian average of 49.8%). So the first stage of the Shepparton Culture Kitchen program was to work with the local communities affected by this health issue, and recruit 6 local participants (which was later increased to 8 following an overwhelming response to the initial call out).
This project is currently ongoing, with all participants being paid for their time to work together and generate new ideas and approaches to address this health challenge. Shepparton Culture Kitchen helps diverse communities work together by using a community-devised ‘cultural safety tool’
A key requirement for working with the many diverse groups and perspectives in the region is to have a cultural reflection tools that build awareness and a shared understanding. This helps to guide discussions about cultural safety both with project collaborators and participants.
Working this way makes the Shepparton Culture Kitchen program a new model for community-led health partnerships, and it is one that’s evolving and adapting over time. But most importantly, its evolution and adaptations are happening with the key principle of ‘nothing for us without us’ where communities are viewed as the experts of their own lived experience.
This model of working with communities ensures that voices from Shepparton’s multicultural communities will be amplified and untold experiences will be shared.