The therapeutic benefits of Tasmania’s outdoor spaces will be the focus of a new health and wellbeing movement being led by the University of Tasmania.
Researchers from the Centre for Rural Health are exploring ways that the State’s natural environments can positively impact an individual’s health.
On Monday (Monday, 10 December), the Therapeutic Landscape Research Collective met for the first time to scope projects that aim to improve health outcomes.
Dr Pauline Marsh, Centre for Rural Health researcher and lecturer, said Tasmania was an ideal State to be studying such a concept.
“The inter-relationships between natural environments, people's health and subjective wellbeing is of growing interest amongst researchers and health and industry practitioners alike,” Dr Marsh said.
“The abundant green spaces and natural assets of our 'clean and green State' provide great opportunities for nature-based policies and initiatives to improve health and wellbeing.
“This work aligns with the goal of the State Government’s Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan to make us the nation’s healthiest population by 2025.
“We hope Monday’s event will pave the way for future evidence-informed projects that significantly improve health and wellbeing outcomes by increasing people’s connections to nature, each other and fostering a better quality of life.”
The workshop was attended by University representatives from the disciplines of health, environmental studies, urban design, geography and fine arts.
The movement builds on another Centre for Rural Health-led initiative called DIGnity, a supported community gardening program running in Nubeena and Dodges Ferry.
Shown to have widespread benefits, it is now set to expand following a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2017 and State Government support.
“DIGnity applies a unique model of supported gardening to assist people who are otherwise excluded from a communal garden space due to physical, mental and/or cognitive constraints,” Dr Marsh said.
“We’re now preparing to roll out the program to other community gardens, and also to commercial horticulture settings to explore how the DIGnity model might open up a range of employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”
A short film documenting the initiative called In the Heart of the Garden was awarded the joint film prize at this year’s Therapeutic Landscapes Conference.
The Tasmanian Therapeutic Landscape Research collective is supported by funding from the University’s College of Health and Medicine.