Matt Pine, giving a speech at UNE Healthy Campus event, standing in front of The Shop, Ingrid Moses Courtyard

UNE Healthy Campus Explained: an interview with Matt Pine

As the University of New England (UNE) wholeheartedly embraces the Healthy Campus initiative, an international accreditation program developed by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), we sat down with Matt Pine, High Performance Manager at SportUNE and a key figure behind the initiative’s implementation at UNE. With a focus on enhancing the health and wellbeing of its staff and students, UNE is actively working through the 100 points of certification outlined by FISU.

1. What is the Healthy Campus initiative and where does the idea come from?

The Healthy Campus initiative was developed by FISU, which is the International University Sports Federation. In May 2020, FISU launched the Healthy Campus Programme in order to broaden its scope of social responsibility into the realm of health and wellbeing. UNE has now signed up to this international accreditation programme and is working through the 100 points of certification.

2. Who are the key stakeholders behind the project and who is the initiative aimed at?

FISU is one of the main stakeholders, as well as UniSport Australia, as they provide the framework for us to work within for this project. Here at UNE, UNE Life and SportUNE have taken the lead in rolling out the UNE Healthy Campus Program. During this process, we will also be partnering with the Manna Institute, which conducts meaningful research to assist rural and regional communities to improve their mental health and wellbeing. The UNE Healthy Campus Program will primarily be focused on both the staff and students of the broader UNE community, including those who work and study at our various campuses and online.

3. What does a Healthy Campus look like to you?

A healthy campus is one which empowers its people to take ownership of their health and wellbeing. This can be facilitated by working cohesively to provide a range of key services and events that allow people to monitor and improve their social, physical and mental wellbeing. Our launch event, the Healthy Campus lunchtime walk, is a good example of this, as it brings our community together providing a combination of social connection, physical activity, and good nutrition.

4. What challenges do students and staff face in maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

The individual barriers people face maintaining health and wellbeing can be many and varied. But a common factor for both students and staff at an institution like UNE might boil down to a lack of time. The competing demands of a busy work or study schedule, family and social life can be all-consuming, leaving little time or motivation be conscious of things like our physical and mental wellbeing. Other barriers can range from financial factors, to simply a lack of understanding how or where to start on the path to a healthier lifestyle.

5. How will Healthy Campus address these challenges? How can people get involved and what are the benefits for the UNE community?

The UNE Healthy Campus Program aims to provide a range of services and activations that make health and wellbeing more visible within the wider UNE community. Some of these will be a call-to-action for staff and students to take a pro-active approach to managing their health, while others will be more subtle. We also aim to create opportunities for social connection, physical activity and improved nutrition, with the majority of these activities being offered at no, or low-cost to staff and students.

It will be very easy to get involved in any planned activities or services. Simply keep an eye on the UNE Healthy Campus homepage.

Better health and wellbeing outcomes for the wider UNE community have a raft of flow-on benefits that we hope will create a more connected, more productive and happier ‘place’ to co-exist for all staff and students.

6. What specific Healthy Campus initiatives can students and staff expect to see at UNE in the near future?

A number of initiatives have already been added to the calendar, with many more in the pipeline. Some of these are in-person events on various campuses like exercise classes and morning teas, while other are virtual events like webinars. Make sure you keep an eye on our homepage and our various media channels for more info, and we encourage you to get involved when you can.

7. What role do you see students and staff playing in the success of Healthy Campuses?

The UNE Healthy Campus Program has enabled a number of departments to start collaborating and sharing ideas and resources more effectively. It is early days, but this process has already brought about a number of positive changes, with hopefully many more to come. In the near future we will be creating a steering committee for the program, and aim to have input from a wide cross-section of the staff and student community. Feedback and suggestions about the program will also be warmly welcomed, so keep an eye out for how to get involved and share your ideas.

8. How will the success of Healthy Campus be evaluated and measured, what are our short and long-term goals?

FISU will be a major contributor to help UNE to evaluate our progress in the journey towards a Healthy Campus by providing an external auditing process, as well as a roadmap for continual improvement. Being a part of the FISU Healthy Campus network also connects us to other university campuses around the world, allowing us to share ideas and learn from international best practices. At UNE, we are also excited to be working alongside the Manna Institute. We look forward to leaning into their expertise to help guide our program and learning from their research findings about the actual impacts the Healthy Campus is having within our own community.