The School of Public Health and Community Medicine has a strong commitment to the promotion of health through all facets of its work. The School regards health promotion as an essential part of public health / population health policy and practice. recognising that the field of health promotion encompasses a wide range of strategies and sectors, with the social determinants of health providing a platform for analyses and action. Supported by the rapidly growing team of social scientists and health researchers undertaking social research on health, the School consequently ensures that this content area is integrated through the teaching, research and service programs of the School. Specific health promotion activity is undertaken in the following areas:
Within the postgraduate educational programs offered by the School, Health Promotion is a core course for the Master of Public Health and Master of International Public Health degrees, and strongly encouraged for the Master of Health Management degree. The Health Promotion stream provides students with an opportunity to select courses in a combination which enables specialisation in understanding and addressing the determinants of health with particular consideration of social perspectives of health and challenges in practice, policy and research. In addition, School academic members are contributing health promotion perspectives to other courses within the school and within the undergraduate medical and medical sciences curricula.
Health promotion research interests span developing contemporary social theory through to translational, implementation and evaluation research. Areas of specialisation include social change through innovative health promotion, social determinants of health, culture, gender and health, vulnerable youth, sexual health, mental health, community-based action research, engagement and leadership in health care. All research involves partnerships with a diverse range of communities locally and internationally. Collaboration with researchers around Australia and overseas research at the School focuses on various facets of the study of health promotion, through quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research, with particular strengths in qualitative research methods and participatory action research techniques. Staff posses expertise in a wide variety of approaches including behavioural epidemiology researching risk factors, health and disease determinants, and trends in lifestyle behaviour, investigating community development approaches, socio-ecological contexts and policy changes for health. The school, through its flagship program Football United, has also become one of the world leaders in sport for development and social change. Another innovative perspective taken recently by the SPHCM is researching the role of health as a peace-building mechanism in countries that have suffered conflict or disasters. Research Masters and PhD students conducting a wide range of health promotion research projects are supervised by faculty members of the School.
The School has forged a strong reputation for community-based action research, engaging closely with government departments at federal, state and local levels, with large non-government organisations such as the Cancer Council and the National Heart Foundation, and with community organisations and patient advocacy groups. The Football United flagship program has won numerous honours, both nationally and internationally for its impact on youth health and well-being. Staff members actively contribute to health promotion projects in countries internationally as well as locally.
Increasingly, partnerships are being developed with other groups to better promote health, including the Australian Health Promotion Association, the Australian Public Health Association, and a new partnership with the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY). The School works very closely with UNSW centres to achieve its goals. Close working relationships exist with the Centre for Equity and Primary Health Care, the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, the Centre for HIV Social Research, the Kirby Institute, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the Injury Risk Management Research Centre and the Institute of Environmental Studies.
The School is actively engaged with the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), Laureus Foundation, Streetfootballworld. The Convener of Health Promotion is on the IUHPE’s Regional and Global Board of Trustees. Faculty members also actively collaborate with WHO’s regional offices and represent Australia in a multitude of diverse conferences internationally.