Increasing physical activity levels in women of childbearing age in CALD communities: A co-designed program

Project: Research

Project Details


WHY: Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities have low participation rates in regular physical activity (Centre for Culture Ethnicity & Health 2006) and face barriers to social connectedness that can impact their mental health (Brewer 2009).
Engaging regularly in physical activity is beneficial for good physical and mental health. This is particularly important for women of childbearing age, as the best outcomes in pregnancy are achieved for the mother and baby, when the mother begins pregnancy in good health. The first 1000 days (conception to 2 years age) is recognised as a critical period which can impact health and wellbeing throughout the lifespan and as such is a priority area for ACT Government (ACT Government 2021).
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, strengthens muscles and bones, helps avoid or manage mental health problems and can create opportunities for socialisation (Australian Government 2021). In pregnancy, obesity and diabetes are increasing at an alarming rate, increasing the risk of complications for the mother and baby. These include high blood pressure, blood clots, caesarean section, stillbirth, babies that are too large (and birth difficulties due to this such as shoulders becoming trapped), and low blood sugar after birth. Babies born to mothers who are obese or who develop diabetes in pregnancy have a higher risk of being overweight themselves and developing diabetes later in life.
Culturally and linguistically diverse women experience several barriers to social connectedness and may feel isolated and lonely (Brewer 2009). This impacts substantially on women’s mental health which can have an ongoing effect on their children. This is because healthy child development requires a strong maternal, infant bond which is compromised when a woman has poor mental health (Brassel, Townsend et al. 2020).
WHAT: Co-design, implementation, and evaluation of a physical activity program for women of childbearing age from CALD communities.
WHO: A partnership between Multicultural Hub Canberra (mHub), the Health Care Consumer’s Association of the ACT (HCCA) and The University of Canberra (UC), “Brighter beginnings: Maternal and child health” research group. This partnership capitalises on expertise in community engagement (HCCA), co-design (HCCA), services to CALD community (mHub), exercise physiology, midwifery, psychology, and methods of evaluation (UC).
WHERE: the ACT. This is a program designed specifically for the needs of women from CALD communities in the ACT, to be delivered locally for the benefit of the local community.
Short titleActive Beginnings
StatusNot started


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