A good diet is the foundation of good health. Richard Ball is a Dietitian with the Health Promotion Unit of the Mid North Coast Local Health District, working to promote healthy eating and active living in our community.
One of the NSW Premier’s Priorities is to reduce overweight and obesity rates of children by five per cent by 2025. “The latest figures show 52 per cent of NSW adults and 22 per cent of NSW children are overweight or obese. Health Promotion is working to ensure being healthy is easier and therefore prevent people from becoming unwell,” Richard said.
Richard has always been driven to help people improve their lives. He has worked in hospitals, Indigenous communities, mental health, and as a drug and alcohol worker.
“I look forward to coming to work for the people. I get to work with great childcare staff, new parents, and a diverse team of amazing people who are some of my best friends and are as committed as I am to preventative health care.”
It’s not just recipe books for Richard. To become a dietitian and roll out evidence-based programs, he has undertaken a great deal of study. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Nutrition) from the University of Wollongong, Master of Nutrition and Dietetics from Griffith University and has just enrolled in a PhD at the University of Newcastle.
As well as the necessary qualifications, dietitians need to work well with other people and be able to get them to accept change and the reasons it is important.
“You also have to be considerate and empathetic of people’s circumstances and obstacles they may face in making healthful decisions. People will make changes when they’re ready, and you can’t impose your agenda until that happens,” Richard said.
At the moment, Richard is busy rolling out the Munch and Move program, which supports childcare centres to create healthy environments, and PICNIC (Parents in Child Nutrition Informing Community), which helps new parents establish feeding behaviour that provides infants with good nutrition and healthy eating patterns for life.
“It’s really exciting. We’re looking at the ways new parents receive and share education and training in nutrition and child feeding. We’re aiming to recruit new parents into the program in early 2018, and these mums and dads will help shape the project by letting us know how we can best get easy-to-understand information to parents when they need it most.”
For Richard, Port Macquarie is a perfect base. “We have a really fit and active community. I’ve lived in London for six years, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Cooktown in Cape York. After I did a dietetic community placement in Lismore many years ago, my wife and I knew we wanted to raise our children on the NSW coast. We made the move in 2012 with our two young boys. They certainly keep us active!”
For details about the PICNIC program, contact Richard at Port Macquarie Community Health on 6588 2882.
5:30am Ride, run or gym
7:00am Organise kids; make healthy lunches
8:00am Get in to work, make a coffee, plan and prioritise my activities for the day
9:00am Answer email queries, organise resources and information for childcare centres, review menus and policies
10:00am Meet up with dietetic students I am supervising – review their work
11:00am Visit childcare centres, find out what their needs are around nutrition and physical activity
Lunch When possible, a swim or a 30 minute gym class with Andrew Currey!
1:00pm Plan and run education sessions for childcare staff, new parents and other health staff
2:00pm Develop strategies for communicating health messages to the public
4:00pm Plan research with universities, health staff and new parents
5:00pm Home. Run my kids around to various after school activities