History of SALSA

In 2004, a partnership was formed between general practitioners from the Mt Druitt Medical Practitioners Association (MDMPA), the local community health organisation and a local high school. These key stakeholders identified obesity as a problem in the Mt Druitt area and developed the program as a preventative measure. The SALSA program is based on sound psychosocial theories of behaviour change and empowerment education. The program motivates high school students to make healthier food choices and increase physical activity using a range of games, activities and a video.

SALSA continues to be a collaborative project between High Schools, Western Sydney Local Health District and Mt Druitt and Blacktown Medical Practitioners' Associations.

The SALSA Project received funding from the Australian Government Department of Health in 2013. This enabled an incredibly productive and successful era for the SALSA program. We achieved good fidelity of implementation and excellent evaluation retention rates throughout the SALSA evaluation, working in partnerships with high schools.

Twenty-three high schools in western Sydney received the SALSA program in 2014 and 2015. The program had a significant impact on improving the dietary behaviours of students and provided an important nudge to alter the often declining health related behaviours of adolescents.

The SALSA program focuses on the richest resource of our community, students themselves. Our simple premise is that students can motivate each other and learn together about living a healthy lifestyle. The benefits are not limited to the participating students but also extend to the staff, other students at school and to the families of students.

The SALSA program is relevant and developmentally appropriate, implemented in partnership with high schools and should be supported through sustained government funding.