This week I was fortunate to be able to attend the World Congress on Public Health. The presentations from the keynote speakers were both sobering and inspiring.
Some key messages from the morning’s presentations were about international trends and their impact on health – the increasing disparity between rich and poor, and a growing political paradigm that sees the public as customers rather than citizens who participate in democratic choices.
The connection between health and the health of the planet was strongly made as was the influence of commercial drivers of consumption that are having a negative impact on health and the environment.
We were also reminded of the growing inequality of resource distribution in the world, where eight men own the same wealth as half of humanity.
The Political Determinants of Health is a concept that is now being discussed as a way to understand how the dominant political philosophies are shaping health and wellbeing and social inequity. We were reminded of our responsibility to be advocates for health in the broader sphere.
I also enjoyed the presentations of smaller projects that illustrate health promotion in practice on the ground.
This month we welcomed to our team Tracey Blythe, our new Prevention Coordinator. Tracey has extensive experience working in health promotion, health planning, community development and policy development in local government and community health. She has managed a wide range of projects and programs and has expertise in reducing harm from alcohol and prevention of violence against women – two key priorities in our prevention work.
In February, our Koolin Balit Phase 2 Project – Health and wellbeing services supporting Aboriginal tertiary students in the Inner East – improving access to local health services finished.
The focus on the project has been on improving access to local services for Aboriginal tertiary students. The Project Officer Sally Ingram worked closely with the Koori Liaison Officers working at the local TAFES to improve their understanding of local services and promote referrals. The KLOs were pleased to learn how welcoming Community Health and local mental health and drug and alcohol services are to Aboriginal clients. A highlight of the project was a lunch with guest speaker Rob Patten from Banyule Community Health who discussed how they had supported Aboriginal students in their workplace and how this had led to building the Aboriginal workforce at Banyule, which had in turn lead to increasing numbers of Aboriginal clients. Rob emphasised the importance of organisational readiness before employing Aboriginal staff.
Sally Missing, Executive Officer, IEPCP