Healthy eating with the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS)
October 6, 2020
Our next blog is by Faye Chik, a first-year Master of Dietetics student at Deakin University. She recently completed a seven-week Community Placement with the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) team at Nutrition Australia Victoria (NA Vic) and has been asked to share her experience. We are very proud to have NA Vic as a partner organisation of Deakin’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences.
I was very excited when I was allocated my placement with NA Vic! I have always wanted to volunteer with NA Vic, since the first year of my undergraduate studies in 2017. I looked forward to this placement because it was my first exposure to community and public health nutrition. I was interested to explore the role of HEAS, and how current and future healthy eating measures in Victoria are planned, implemented and evaluated. HEAS is a state government funded program that supports organisations to implement relevant healthy eating guidelines and policies to provide and promote healthier food and drink options. HEAS works with early childhood education and care services, schools, hospitals and health services, sports and recreation facilities, tertiary education, workplaces and the food industry.
What I did
The majority of my placement was spent working on the project, “Scoping the best practice guidelines for a successful healthy retail recognition program in Victoria”. The project was generated from Nourish Network’s Healthy Retail Promotion Action Group (NNHRPAG). It is supervised by NA Vic and supported by Monash Health and Deakin University. The project’s goal is to increase healthy eating and reduce Victorian’s obesity and chronic disease risk by identifying best practice guidelines for a ‘healthy retail’ recognition program in Victoria. This involved completing a literature review and needs assessment, designing an appropriate comparison tool, conducting interviews and writing a final report to evaluate and provide recommendations on best practice guidelines for a successful healthy retail recognition program in Victoria. I was involved in all stages of the project, from data collection (literature review, stakeholder interviews, program research) to data analysis, report writing and finally project dissemination (presentation to stakeholders, final report submission to NA Vic).
The remainder of my placement was spent sitting in/observing meetings and talking to individuals from NA Vic, Monash Health and NNHRPAG about their roles and career progression. A meeting that I attended that was particularly interesting was about a collaboration between a prominent food industry organisation and Victorian schools to offer healthier sandwich options for students’ lunches.
I thoroughly enjoyed my placement with HEAS and I encourage you to experience it for yourself! Everyone at HEAS and NA Vic has been very welcoming, friendly and inspirational. I am very thankful that my placement project had real-world implications and was valuable to NA Vic. This first-hand experience allowed me to see the application of theories in real-life scenarios. It was nerve-wracking, yet exciting and memorable, to interview various stakeholders. I look forward to the development of a successful and sustainable state-wide healthy retail recognition program to promote healthier food options across all food outlets.
What I got out of it
Through this placement, I developed interviewing skills, professional communication skills (oral and written), presentation skills and confidence. Through the interactions with HEAS and NA Vic Staff, their passion and desire to make a significant difference in the world using their various skill sets has inspired me. Through the chats with various individuals, it has been encouraging to know that dietetics opens up a diverse range of career paths.
This placement has increased my awareness and knowledge of healthy eating implementation in Victoria. For instance, prior to this placement, I never associated the ‘traffic light’ coding of food items at Deakin University with the implementation/application of the Healthy Choices Guidelines (HCG) in tertiary institutions. My placement project has made me want to visit the various food businesses that are part of the healthy retail recognition programs being scoped and has also inspired me to explore the field of healthy retail recognition programs in Victoria, Australia and internationally.
Find out more about the Nourish Network, the Healthy Eating Advisory Service, Nutrition Australia Victoria and Deakin’s Master of Dietetics.