This became the foundation for the WHO’s development of the Health for All strategy and for the WHO Global Programme on Accident Prevention and Injury Control which came to be implemented partly by the Safe Communities Initiative.
Under the Safe Communities Initiative, cities became accredited as a ‘Safe City’. To be accredited as a safe city, a community must go above and beyond what is required by law to protect and promote the safety and well-being of its citizens.
The overarching benefit of being accredited as a Safe City is the establishment of a context for building relationships, organising community intervention and achieving results.
Falköping, Sweden was one of the first (1975) communities to approach safety and injury control in a comprehensive way for all ages, environments and situations. This was not accomplished by creating a new structure, it was the result of collaborative efforts of existing organisations, associations, and welfare functions. In 1978, Falköping initiated its injury registration program, followed by an injury program in 1979. In three years, there was a 27% reduction in injuries in the work, domestic and traffic areas. In 1991, Falköping was designated a WHO Safe Community.
Since 1989, communities around the world and in New Zealand have been formally designated "Safe Communities". Click here to learn more.
The Safe Community initiative differs in comparison to other injury prevention and safety programs. In the former, the leading role is played by the community itself. The term Safe Community implies that the community aspires to safety in a structured approach, not that the community is already perfectly safe. Creative methods of education and environmental change joined with appropriate legislation and enforcement are an important beginning for the safety of a community. No single approach is sufficient for changing existing behaviour patterns. The media, for example, can be a very powerful tool in heightening public awareness.
Programs to prevent and control injuries and accidents must identify and characterise the safety problem and evaluate the effectiveness of safety interventions.
Palmerston North was the 333rd city to be awarded the Safe City Accreditation and we are accountable to the Pan Pacific Safe Communities Network for regular updates and annual reports detailing our continued efforts to make Palmerston North a safer place for our citizens with the ultimate goal of obtaining reaccreditation at the end of the current five-year accreditation period.
Following the acceptance of this award, Palmerston North City Council received some funding from ACC to appoint a Safe Community Project Officer: Dr Kate Osto. Kate’s role involves connecting with the community organisations whose initiatives and programmes contribute to our safe city accreditation and promoting continued efforts with an emphasis on collaborative activity and resource sharing. Regular updates on our Safe City Accreditation and the programmes and initiatives running within it are available from on the Palmerston North Safer Communities Newsletter will soon be available here.