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Oaklands Community Health and Fitness Centre

Tamara Nixon believed her community of Oaklands (population 350) could benefit from a fully accessible, low-cost fitness facility for local residents to participate in a range of exercises classes, health education and social activities. The region had suffered from drought for a number of years, followed by widespread floods. As a result, parts of the community were experiencing an increase in mental health issues and financial stress.

The local organising committee secured funding from a number of sources, including the RAS Foundation, to purchase an unused store in the main street to house the fitness centre.

Flexible opening hours has been one of the keys to the Centre's success, as well as offering a range of membership categories to suit different budgets. The Centre offers a range of classes, as well as specialist exercise classes for men, women and the elderly.

Within three months of opening, more than a third of the area's residents had become members and now visit the gym on a regular basis. This contributed to improved mental health and physical wellbeing of residents and an increase in social interaction and engagement of the community. It is hoped this will reduce the impact on the region's health system through championing healthy lifestyle changes.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) students will conduct annual reviews to measure and chart the impact of the Oaklands Community Health and Fitness Centre on the health of the community.