The Hawkesbury Local Government Area (LGA) is located 55 kms north-west of Sydney CBD, within the Hawkesbury River Valley.
It is the largest LGA area in the Sydney basin with an area of approximately 2800 square kms. The area is divided by 5 rivers and about 70% of the LGA is covered by national parks.
The Hawkesbury has an estimated population of 65,114. [source: Hawkesbury City Council]
Some key statistics pertaining to the health of the Hawkesbury area include:
- 5.5% of all babies born have low birth weight
- 15.6% of mothers smoke during pregnancy
- The childhood immunisation rate is 88.4%
- 14.4% of people report having fair or poor health
- 12.3% report high or very high psychological distress
- The most prevalent chronic diseases are circulatory (17.2%), respiratory (24.3%) and musculoskeletal system diseases (25.2%); rates are markedly higher than Metro Sydney
- 23.6% of people are physically inactive
- 15.2% of men are overweight
- 10.5% of men are smokers
- Transport difficulties - time, costs and parking issues involved in travelling to and from health care services
- Aged care services - shortage of resources and aged care bed
- Workforce problems - shortage of health care providers
- Access to information - low knowledge of services and where to go to get information
- Mental health services - shortage of services
- Impact of flood and bushfire on access to health care - inadequate disaster planning and access to emergency services west of the river
- Cancer treatment - long, impractical travel to access services
- Carer respite and support - limited resources
- Boundaries and accessing health services in other areas
Based on this feedback, the Interim Joint Health Consumer Committee has made 14 recommendations about steps that should be taken to address the most pressing health priorities for the Hawkebsury area.