This virtual issue of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia addresses the vital matter of the health promotion workforce. Eleven papers highlight the importance of workforce capacity in the effective delivery of health promotion. Australia has demonstrated international leadership in recognising and progressing the health promotion workforce through pioneering health promotion competency development, national conferences, the building of courses, capacity and training to support health promotion and, of course, the opportunity to publish - afforded by this journal.
Australia was an early innovator in the development and articulation of health promotion competencies, and the Australian work has been influential in mobilising global consensus. Consensus on competencies, in turn, provided an essential precursor to accreditation and registration in the health promotion profession. This virtual issue is timely as it coincides with the launch of the accreditation of health promotion practitioners in Australia in April 2017.
However, a failing and therefore fundamental challenge for health promotion in Australia, is lack of progress in reorientation of the systems that support or hinder health promotion, as well as lack of policy action to build and strengthen health promotion institutions and career structures.
In the coming years, there are fundamental opportunities for advancing health promotion afforded by a global focus on sustainable development and noncommunicable diseases, and recognition within these of the importance of prevention, community engagement, health literacy, equity and health promoting settings. These are not new themes for health promotion but our challenge is to seize the current opportunity. More than ever a skilled and agile health promotion workforce is a necessity to realise this potential. The health promotion workforce of the future must be better equipped to articulate and advocate around the links and co-benefits of health promotion in areas such as climate, healthy cities, equity, cross-sector action and the sustainable development agenda.
Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton is Director of Cardiovascular Health with the National Heart Foundation (WA) and was the founding National President of the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA). He is a Life Member of AHPA. Watch him discuss the importance of this virtual issue: https://vimeo.com/215767758.
In 1986, a new document began to be circulated through health professional networks, and in particular health education circles. It came to be called the ‘Ottawa Charter’, because its guiding principles were the result of an international conference held in Ottawa, Canada. At that time, who would have realised the impact that this Charter would have 30 years later?
The succinct articulation of the themes around healthy public policy, healthy environments and reorienting health systems towards prevention helped re-frame the classic health education approach to embrace a broader health promotion approach including the social determinants as highlighted by Marmot. It acknowledged the need for health education while at the same time highlighting that health education alone would not achieve the health outcomes being sought.
Health promotion in Australia over the past 30 years has genuinely adopted the principles of the Ottawa Charter, as you can see in the articles published together in this virtual issue of the Journal. I invite you to revisit these papers, starting with the Lead Article by Watson and James in the first edition of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia and look forward to seeing what the next 30 years is able to achieve.
Professor Rissel, Director of the NSW Office of Preventive Health and Professor of Public Health with the School of Public Health, University of Sydney
The Health Promotion Journal of Australia is the flagship publication of the Australian Health Promotion Association®. For more information on the work of AHPA, and membership details, please see the AHPA website.
This virtual issue of Health Promotion Journal of Australia devoted to climate change is timely and important. The recent Paris Agreement in which the world’s nations committed to try to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures will mean our efforts to transform into low carbon societies and economies over next few decades will be both dramatic and disruptive. The nature and scale of disruption will depend on the extent to which industries, sectors, businesses and professions prepare for and are involved in this 21st century low carbon ‘revolution’.
As Brown et al. point out, climate change ‘is an issue without boundaries – impacts will cut across administrative and geographical borders and be felt by every sector of society’.
This is also true of the response required to transform our world. We need more systems thinking and collaborative approaches like the Sustain Northern Rivers model; we need to build resilience by working across boundaries, and expand on some of the great examples of climate sensitive health promotion practices.
Most of all, as health professionals, we need to make our voices heard on climate change. This means taking this message beyond our journals, and into parliamentary offices, into the media, and into the street. Time is very short to avert escalating and irreversible climate change. Becoming strong and visible advocates for urgent climate action is now the most important kind of health promotion strategy – not only for us, but for future generations.
Fiona Armstrong March 2016, Executive Director, Climate and Health Alliance