It's International Walk to School Month, which means we're touring the world finding out how other countries are tackling the decline in walking to school.

Here's Ben Rossiter of Victoria Walks, Australia’s only walking health promotion charity, established by VicHealth in 2009.

Children walking to school with older people sat on a bench
Map of Australia

Since the early 1970s there has been a dramatic decline in the rate of children walking to school in Australia. Then, 40 per cent of children walked, in 1994 it was 24 per cent and it is now thought to be as low as 15 per cent.

Recent research commissioned by VicHealth (one of Australia’s foremost health promotion agencies) revealed that busy family routines, traffic safety and fear of strangers were common concerns.

 

VicHealth's report found that parents were more likely to let their children play and travel independently when...

They lived in communities where people knew each other

There were fewer traffic and pedestrian hazards

There were more adults and children walking

Steps forward

There is an impressive variety of programs in Australia aiming to reverse the decline in children walking to school.

Since 2006, VicHealth’s Walk to School campaign has encouraged primary-school students across Victoria to walk, ride or scoot to and from school as often as possible.

Formerly a one-day event, the campaign now spans the month of October. By working with primary schools, local councils and communities, the Walk to School campaign integrates active travel behaviours into local settings.

Last year, Walk to School had 620 primary schools involved, with a total of 108,997 primary students tracking 1.7 million walks!

Apart from school journeys, Victoria Walks is working to embed walking into the school curriculum, and promote walking to whole-school communities.

Three children walking