Parramatta green project wins national innovation prize

Elizabeth Leece from the WSLHD Centre for Population Health partnership team and Blacktown City Council recreation planner Dylan Marshall at the FitNSW conference.

They say green space in a city is invaluable, but a project to put a dollar figure on parks in Parramatta has picked up a national environment award.

Western Sydney Local Health District’s Centre for Population Health (CPH) was involved in the Parramatta City Council project ‘Valuing Our Green Places’, which found that for every dollar invested in the council’s 150 parks and sportsgrounds, $10 of social and economic value is created for the public.

The finding saw the project win the Innovation in Social Impact Measurement Award at the annual Social Impact Measurement Network of Australia awards.

“It’s clear that quality, green open space is highly valued, especially as an increasing number of our residents move into higher density housing and rely on public green open space as their backyard,” said Helen Ryan from CPH’s partnerships team.

Insights from the project will help determine future investment in green, open spaces around Parramatta and Western Sydney.

City of Parramatta social outcomes project officer Katie Wearne and Melissa Mason from the CPH partnerships team.

The project was also one of two recent partnerships with local councils showcased at the FitNSW annual conference. Bringing together health, planning, transport and businesses, the conference showcased collective ways to encourage more people to be more active, more often.

The second project presented at the conference, ‘Walking in Blacktown City: A web of interrelated actions’, explored the ways council and health can work both together and separately to encourage walking in Blacktown.

“We know regular physical activity is important to help improve wellbeing and overall health. Walking is the most common form of physical activity for adults that can be built into everyday living,” Helen said.

“Our work with Blacktown City Council has shown that improving the walking environment, increasing peoples’ knowledge of the benefits of walking, and highlighting the many beautiful locations and walking tracks locally, is a great combination for encouraging more people to be more regularly active.”

The project involved developing checklists to ensure health factors were considered in the design of built environments; environmental audits and identification of improvements needed; research into public toilets as infrastructure to support walking; and promotion of walking events, places to walk and people to walk with.

The project will help to inform other walkability projects and council policies and practices to increase walking.

Internationally renowned speaker, Lucy Saunders, from Healthy Streets (London) spoke about how ‘A street that works for people is a street that is good for health’ in the conference’s keynote address. To read more about the Healthy Streets approach, see:

For more information about these projects or additional work of the Centre for Population Health partnerships team, please contact Helen at or on 9840 3708.