Case Study: Do Your Thing
Image: Local Leadership Group members with the group’s Foundational Charter to signal their commitment to work collaboratively to improve health and wellbeing outcomes.
Do Your Thing is an initiative of the ‘Building a Healthy Bundaberg’ Alliance (BaHB) with the ambitious goal of reducing the rate of overweight and obesity in the Bundaberg region to below the national average by 2030. At its core, Do Your Thing aims to improve the way programs and services across nutrition, physical activity, mental health and social wellbeing sectors are coordinated, delivered, and communicated across the region.
Health and Wellbeing Queensland is a lead organisation in BaHB, alongside the Bundaberg Regional Council and Sport and Recreation (Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport), in partnership with several other peak health bodies, local community groups and research organisations. BaHB is committed to supporting people in the Bundaberg region to ‘do their thing’ and make healthy changes to their lives in ways that work for them.
Background and context
The Bundaberg region has seen significant investment in health and wellbeing facilities, programs, and activities, and has many existing high-quality service providers. However, the region continues to have higher rates of overweight and obesity than the state average despite having nutrition and physical activity levels that are similar to the state average.
A key challenge for the BaHB initiative is to better connect the many and diverse stakeholders who have an interest in health and wellbeing and to better synchronise, organise, and support the efforts of existing services to provide a single, but powerful means of engaging the community.
Planning and implementation
In 2020, the Alliance engaged Evidn, a behavioural science organisation, to apply its evidence-based Behavioural Systems Analysis to understand the systemic challenges underpinning overweight and obesity and to identify the conditions needed to implement a place-based health initiative.
Between December 2020 and March 2021, Evidn consulted with 100 stakeholders from 33 organisations and analysed 200 papers, reports, and reviews. Findings highlighted the diversity of the Bundaberg community and outlined key factors that were acting as barriers against the implementation of a place-based initiative. Recommendations focused on ways to improve coordination, delivery and communication of programs, projects and services related to nutrition, physical activity, mental health and social wellbeing within the community. This included: (1) increasing consumers’ visibility of, and access to, an already high-quality collection of programs and services, (2) alongside collaboration between organisations and community groups, and (3) promoting a positive health and wellbeing identity for the region.
To put these recommendations into practice, Evidn collaborated with the Alliance to establish a Local Leadership Group. The purpose of the group was to gather feedback from local groups, develop a monitoring evaluation and learning framework, and improve their own ways of workings, skills and communication activities. The Do Your Thing concept was developed as a galvanising tool to bring stakeholders together and build awareness of, and engagement with, available programs and services (e.g., Do Your Thing to build a healthy Bundaberg). Do Your Thing is ultimately a platform for collaboration, a platform for capacity building, a platform for communication, and most of all – a platform for change.
Funding and Resources
HWQld provided funding of $262,000 between December 2020 to June 2023 ($67,000 ex GST phase 1 and $195,000 ex GST phase 2) to deliver the behavioural science-based approach in Bundaberg. Health and Wellbeing Queensland and Bundaberg Regional Council have also provided funding for a student living stipend ($150,000 over 4 years) to support a PhD student to examine the effectiveness of investments in health as a driver of improvements in economic performance in regional communities in Queensland.
Since launching the initiative in April 2022 the Local Leadership Group has met 6 times by the end of 2022. It currently has over 40 members representing 28 organisations. Local Leaders are working on over 50 projects and activities in their respective roles, with several opportunities for collaboration identified since the most recent meeting.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
The Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and Data Implementation Plan outline the approach and key indicators to evaluate Do Your Thing and measure health and wellbeing change metrics at different levels of the system. Data captured included primary measures of success (i.e. organisational behaviours), secondary measures of success (i.e. individuals and peer networks), and longer-term trends (i.e. community indicators).
A baseline evaluation of Do Your Thing was completed in March 2022. It highlighted the complex and interrelated nature of obesity and other health-related issues.
Results show that programs involved in Do Your Thing have engaged almost 20,000 community members through 500 events and activities involving 58 organisations or projects. Preliminary results demonstrate the importance of taking a broad and holistic approach towards improving health and wellbeing across the community and the need to capture data across multiple levels of the ‘system’ – beyond strict measures of nutrition, exercise, or Body Mass Index (BMI). Results also highlight that the full picture of health and wellbeing can be improved by increasing collaboration between organisations throughout the community, mapping available community resources, and identifying linkages across the system.
1. Organisational Indicators
There is an opportunity to improve coordination and joint decision-making between organisations. More work is needed to improve consumer awareness of health and wellbeing programs and services, and to positively recognise and promote health and wellbeing achievements in the community. There is considerable capacity already in the service system with strong professional knowledge and networks between participants involved in Do Your Thing.
2 . Individual and peer network indicators
Local programs and services provide valuable insights relating to a range of consumer health attitudes and behaviours. Evidn has secured several signed data sharing agreements and is waiting for additional data pertaining to individuals and peer networks to be integrated into the analysis for this section.
3. Community Indicators
The Bundaberg region’s average BMI has remained consistently higher than the state and national average – despite similar levels of nutrition and physical activity. There are also higher than average levels of chronic lifestyle diseases, rates of developmental vulnerability, unemployment, and economic disadvantage. Changes in community indicators are unlikely to be seen in the short term.
4. Improving data collection and evaluation
There is the opportunity to improve the frequency, timing, and volume of data sharing across the community over the course of the project. Data sharing agreements will help streamline and expedite follow-up data collection and provide further clarity into the usage, communication, and aggregation of data.
Capacity and resourcing constraints with regard to organisations providing and aggregating data may be addressed through early engagement, allocating sufficient time, and helping with all forms of data collection, analysis, and aggregation.
Members of the community have expressed their interest in the development of a centralised platform to house all projects, services, and information under the Do Your Thing banner to streamline service delivery and collaboration.
Results from the Follow Up Evaluation completed in January 2023 show that Do Your Thing has had considerable success in the Bundaberg region across three levels of measurement including local measures of coordination, commitment, capacity building and communication across community groups and organisations; measures of individual engagement and satisfaction with programs and services and health and wellbeing; and longer-term population measures including obesity rates, health attitudes and behaviours.
Next steps and implications for others
Discussions with project partners and Local Leaders are ongoing to support the long-term legacy of the initiative. Additionally, work is currently underway to adopt the Do Your Thing framework into a model that can be transferred and scaled to other regions across the state.
Results from the baseline assessment will be contrasted to a second data collection point on completion of the Phase 2 project in December 2022. This follow-up comparison will chiefly measure changes across primary success indicators to determine the effectiveness of Do Your Thing behaviour change strategies.
Dr Crystal La Rue
Do Your Thing behavioural science strategy