This resource provides information on improving public health in Australia by the year 2030.
This supplement was originally published in The Medical Journal of Australia. It outlines how health and wellbeing for current and future generations can be achieved with evidence-based action on the multiple and complex determinants of health.
To read the full version of this supplement, click here.
A summary of the key points is provided below.
Australian community health statistics
1 in 8 Australians, including 1 in 6 children, live in poverty and cannot afford necessities such as healthy food, clothing, education and health care1
inequitable access to supportive walking and cycling infrastructure, greenspace, community infrastructure and transport options limit opportunities to live a healthy and prosperous life 2-4
exposure to the marketing tactics of the alcohol, gambling and unhealthy food and drink industries negatively influence perceptions and behaviours across the life course 5-8
How Australia improved health equity through action on the social determinants of health
Do not think that the social determinants of health equity are old hat. In reality, Australia is very far from addressing the societal level drivers of health inequity. There is little progressive policy that touches on the conditions of daily life that matter for health, and action to redress inequities in power, money and resources is almost non-existent.
COVID- 19 was a disruptor and accelerator of positive progressive action. To bring about change, we need committed and real policy action on the social determinants of health equity. It is vital that the health sector assists in convening the multisectoral stakeholders necessary to turn this into reality.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connection to culture: building stronger individual and collective wellbeing
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long maintained that culture (ie, practising, maintaining and reclaiming it) is vital to good health and wellbeing. However, this knowledge and understanding has been dismissed or described as anecdotal or intangible by Western research methods and science. As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is a poorly acknowledged determinant of health and wellbeing, despite its significant role in shaping individuals, communities and societies.
By extension, the cultural determinants of health have been poorly defined until recently. However, an increasing amount of scientific evidence supports what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always said — that strong culture plays a significant and positive role in improved health and wellbeing.
Physical determinants of health: healthy, liveable and sustainable communities
Good city planning is essential for protecting and improving human and planetary health. Until recently, however, collaboration between city planners and the public health sector has languished.
Over the next 10 years, there is an urgent need for public health leaders to collaborate with city planners — to advocate for evidence-informed policy, and to evaluate the health effects of city planning efforts. Importantly, we need integrated planning across and between all levels of government and sectors, to create healthy, liveable and sustainable cities for all.
Health promotion in the Anthropocene: the ecological determinants of health
Human health is inextricably linked to the health of the natural environment. There are ecological determinants to health, including the urgent and critical threats to the natural environment. There are also opportunities for health promotion arising from the human health co-benefits of actions to protect the health of the planet.
Our situation requires a paradigm shift, and this demands a recalibration of health promotion education, research and practice in Australia over the coming decade.
Disrupting the commercial determinants of health
Our vision for 2030 is an Australian economy that promotes optimal human and planetary health for current and future generations. To achieve this, current patterns of corporate practice and consumption of harmful commodities and services need to change.
Digital determinants of health: the digital transformation; and, Governance for health and equity: a vision for our future.
We live in an age of rapid and exponential technological change.
Reflections on the future of public health and health promotion require thorough consideration of the role of digital technologies and the systems they influence. Just how the digital revolution will unfold is unknown, but it is clear that advancements and integrations of technologies will fundamentally influence our health and wellbeing in the future.
The public health response must be proactive, involving many stakeholders, and thoughtfully considered to ensure equitable and ethical applications and use.
1 Davidson P , Bradbury B , Wong M . Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 2: Who is affected? ACOSS/ UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report No. 4 . Sydney : ACOSS , 2020 . http://povertyandinequality.acoss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Poverty-in-Australia-2020-Part-2-%E2%80%93-Who-is-affected_Final.pdf (viewed Oct 2020).
2 Christian H , Zubrick SR , Foster S , et al. The influence of the neighborhood physical environment on early child health and development: a review and call for research . Health Place 2015 ; 33 : 25 – 36 .
3 Murphy M , Badland H , Jordan H , et al. Local food environments, suburban development, and BMI: a mixed methods study . Int J Environ Res Public Health 2018 ; 15 : 1392 .
4 Bentley R , Blakely T , Kavanagh A , et al. A longitudinal study examining changes in street connectivity, land use, and density of dwellings and walking for transport in Brisbane, Australia . Environ Health Perspect 2018 ; 126 : 057003 .
5 White V , Azar D , Faulkner A , et al. Adolescents’ exposure to paid alcohol advertising on television and their alcohol use: exploring associations during a 13- year period . Addiction 2017 ; 112 : 1742 – 1751 .
6 Pitt H , Thomas SL , Bestman A , et al. Factors that influence children’s gambling attitudes and consumption intentions: lessons for gambling harm prevention research, policies and advocacy strategies . Harm Reduct J 2017 ; 14 : 11 .
7 Deans EG , Thomas SL , Derevensky J , et al. The influence of marketing on the sports betting attitudes and consumption behaviours of young men: implications for harm reduction and prevention strategies . Harm Reduct J 2017 ; 14 : 5 .
8 Boyland EJ , Nolan S , Kelly B , et al. Advertising as a cue to consume: a systematic review and meta- analysis of the effects of acute exposure to unhealthy food and nonalcoholic beverage advertising on intake in children and adults . Am J Clin Nutr 2016 ; 103 : 519 – 533 .