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About Health Promotion

​​​​​​​​Northern Sydney Health Promotion implements health promotion projects and activities from the northern side of Sydney Harbour to the Hawkesbury River in the north (from the Harbour to the Hawkesbury) to help improve the health of the community.

The team consists of Health Promotion Officers and specialist staff located at two Units located across the Local Health District; one at RNS Community Health Centre and the other at Brookvale Community Health Centre.

Research Publications

Our service undertakes and is involved in research depending on the project. Check out our publications:

Health Promotion Research Publications

Additional Research Papers


Health Promotion

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to improve their health, by increasing their control over their health and the determinants of good health. It's essentially the effort to prevent disease and injury from occurring in the first place, as opposed to traditional health services, which treat disease and injury once it has occurred.

Health Promotion is a credible, structured means of improving health.

The Best Investment

Health Promotion is our true 'front-line' in health services. It works before people get sick and need medical care. Our health promotion workforce exists on just 0.39% of health funding, yet saves Australia thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year. Conservative calculations indicate that for every dollar invested in primary prevention our health system saves over five dollars.

The Australian Health Promotion Association's Infographic illustrates the value of Health Promotion action in Australia found here:

Just a few factors account for most of the preventable death and chronic disease in Australia. Tobacco smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol, lack of fruit and vegetables, fall injury risks among older people, communicable diseases, and illicit drugs are the main challenges. However, only a small proportion, 1-2%, of the health care budget is ever available for prevention within Australian health services.

The more limited the resources, the greater the need for the establishment of priority programs and implementation of the most effective and efficient strategies. In addition, working in partnership with other departments and organisations combines expertise and energy to multiply results.

Northern Sydney Health Promotion Service provides strong leadership to improve the health and well-being of our population. For many years we have been leaders in this field, at both state and national level - engaging communities to change personal, organisational, and social behaviour, to prevent ill health before it occurs.

Priority Action

Priority for health promotion action is given when:

  1. A health problem exists in a significant proportion of the population and causes substantial mortality or morbidity.

  2. There is good knowledge about preventable factors that are amenable to intervention.

  3. Evidence is available on population based strategies likely to have a significant impact on the problem.

In general, National, State, and Local overall priorities will coincide e.g. Tobacco control, preventing obesity in children and adults, reducing alcohol related harm, and preventing and reducing injurious falls in the elderly.

The current priorities for Health Promotion are described in the Northern Sydney Population Health Plan 2022-2027:

Health Promotion Image  

Other Areas of Interest

There are other topics of concern to the Northern Sydney Health Promotion Service, but other services or groups may take the lead role. These include mental health, immunisation, Aboriginal health, youth health, multicultural health and nutrition among others.

Ways of Working​

  1. Our strategies are aimed at populations, not at service provision to consecutive individuals.

  2. Projects need to be planned, implemented, and evaluated in a structured way. The bulk of our work is proactive rather than reactive.

  3. Any substantial work in Health Promotion must involve a majority of the Ottawa Charter fields. Using only one may mean the work is good education, or good public relations, or good clinical practice; but it will not be Health Promotion.

  4. The most effective strategies are not always popular strategies and may involve confronting profit motives or difficult substitution behaviours (eg. prosecuting tobacco retailers, banning smoking in public places, random breath testing, insisting on responsible service of alcohol).

  5. Identifying, influencing & working collaboratively with key partners is essential to make the best use of resources.

  6. Health Promotion operates in the marketplace of ideas. We aim to be innovative in planning and to take advantage of strategic opportunities when they arise.

  7. We strive to spread the philosophy of health promotion so that other services, organisations, or groups will work both independently and collaboratively jointly to improve health – as NSW Health puts it…prevention is everyone’s business.

  8. Health Promotion action must address the social and environmental determinants of health. (Income & social status; social support networks; education and literacy; employment/working conditions; social environments; physical environments; personal health practices and coping skills; healthy child development; health services; gender; culture.) (Health Canada 2006)

The Foundations of Health Promotion

Ottawa Charter:

The World Health Organisation adopted the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion in 1986, which established the strategic course for health promotion. Health Promotion practitioners work across the five Charter areas for action to:

  1. Build Healthy Public Policy

    This combines diverse but complementary approaches including legislation, economic policy, and organisational practic

  2. Create Supportive Environments

    Physical, social, and economic environments should be safe, enjoyable, and promote health.

  3. Strengthen Community Action

    Health Promotion supports and initiates community actions, which lead to improved conditions for health.

  4. Develop Personal Skills

    Practitioners provide information and education, enabling people to make decisions and take actions to improve their health.

  5. Re-orient Health Services

    If significant further gains are to be made in public health, the health care system will need to extend its focus beyond clinical and curative services into health promoting strategies.

More on the Ottawa Charter at W.H.O.

Since then, The Jakarta Declaration (1997) and more recently The Bangkok Charter (2005), have developed the concept further.

Jakarta Declaration:

The Jakarta Declaration states that; Health is a basic human right and essential for social and economic development. Prerequisites for health are peace, shelter, education, social security, social relations, food, income, empowerment of women, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources use, social justice, respect for human rights and equity. Above all, poverty is the greatest threat to health.

More on the Jakarta Declaration at W.H.O.

Bangkok Charter:

The Bangkok Charter called for strong political action to achieve a healthier world - urging United Nations organisations to explore the benefits of developing and implementing a Global Treaty for Health. The Charter proposes the following actions:

  • Advocate for health based on human rights and solidarity

  • Invest in sustainable policies, actions and infrastructure to address the determinants of health

  • Build capacity for policy development, leadership, health promotion practice, and knowledge transfer and research and health literacy

  • Regulate and legislate to ensure a high level of protection from harm and enable equal opportunity for health and well being for all people

  • Partner and build alliances with public, private, nongovernmental organisations and civil society to create sustainable actions.

More on the Bangkok Charter at W.H.O.