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Driving research to promote good health across the community
​From reducing alcohol-related harm to promoting social wellbeing, the NSLHD Health Promotion team conducts a wide range of innovative research that is helping to keep the community healthy and out of hospital.

The team of 38 Health Promotion staff are involved in designing, implementing and evaluating population health research at local health district, state and national level.  The team has extensive experience across the areas of active ageing, childbirth and early parenting, falls prevention, social wellbeing, domestic and family violence, gambling related harms, youth health promotion, alcohol harm prevention, tobacco control, childhood and adolescent development.

Led by Health Promotion Director Paul Klarenaar, Operations Manager Arlita Willman and an expert team of Program Managers, they produce high quality, actionable research which translates to on-the-ground health gains for the local community

The team's program of research aims to:

  • Extend the evidence base for population health interventions at the local, state and national level
  • Address existing knowledge gaps and address the needs of the Northern Sydney population
  • Build the capacity of internal and external partners to enable population-level changes to health.

Researchers works closely with leading academic institutions, as well as local and state government, community and not -for-profit agencies, to produce research that is innovative, applicable to our local context and scalable.

One research project that has had an important, statewide impact is a study into online liquor sales in NSW.

Online liquor gets audited

The number of 'online liquor licences' in NSW that permit businesses to sell alcohol online, by phone or fax orders increased from 101 in 2010 to 500 by May 2018. A Health Promotion research project aimed to identify existing safeguards to prevent the supply of alcohol to underage or intoxicated people via online purchasing, and to assess the extent to which online liquor retailers in NSW had adopted them.

By conducting a review of the legislation and an audit of all online liquor retailers in NSW, the research identified three key areas for improvement, and provided a series of practical recommendations which were presented directly to the regulator (Liquor & Gaming NSW) in April 2019. This was reinforced through written submissions for a discussion paper and the Draft Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020.

Following the research, the NSW Government incorporated eight new regulatory controls into the NSW Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020, to reduce the risks of alcohol-related harm from online liquor sales. These included banning same-day deliveries being left unattended; mandating age verification at the point of purchase and delivery; requiring all same-day delivery drivers to undertake responsible delivery of alcohol training; and introducing an offence for any person making a same day delivery to an intoxicated person.

The findings, which wereChevron published External Linkin Public Health Research & Practice journal in October 2021, also gained widespread media attention.

Other recent Health Promotion research projects include:

Drink Less. Live More.

We know that Northern Sydney women are being hospitalised due to alcohol use at higher rates than the rest of NSW. Using focus groups and population surveys, this research explored drinking motivations and strategies for women aged 35-59 years living on the Northern Beaches. It led to several key strategies being implemented in the Chevron Drink Less. Live More. External Linkprogram, to reduce alcohol-related harms in our community.

School play space

Less than 23% of children in Australia meet recommended physical activity levels. Our School Years team partnered with the University of Sydney and the University of Canberra to examine the relationship between available play space in primary schools and children's physical activity levels. Findings, Chevron publi​shed External Link​in BMJ Open in June 2020, suggested that as student numbers increased, schools needed to ensure they had sufficient playground space to support physical activity and health.

Small Bites, Big Steps

The Early Years team, which focuses children aged 0–5 years, recently partnered with Early Start, a collaborative initiative between the Australian Government, the Abbott Foundation and the University of Wollongong, to evaluate the effectiveness of bite-sized video snippets aimed at improving early childhood educators' ability to promote healthy behaviours to children in their centre.

Risky business: teen exposure to gambling

The Social Wellbeing team recently partnered with the University of Sydney to develop a citizen science project which involves Northern Sydney high school students capturing the variety and saturation of targeted gambling advertising through image capture. The project aims to engage young people as agents of change to reduce gambling marketing exposure to people aged under 18.

Economic impact evaluation of liquor licences

This research project aims to undertake a cost-effectiveness analysis of liquor licences in NSW, analysing the overall financial benefits and costs to a local geographical area.

The Heath Promolion team is working in partnership with The Australian Partnership Prevention Centre and Deakin Health Economics and hopes the findings will enable NSW Health staff to identify local-level thresholds where the health and social costs of alcohol-related harms are likely to outweigh the economic benefits generated by the existing liquor licences in the community – evidence that will strengthen the quality of decisions on liquor licence applications.

This applied research is the critical first phase of a larger project, the Licensing Impact Forecasting Tool Project (LIFT Project), which aims to develop a tool to forecast and quantify the impact of local liquor licensing decisions on health, social and economic outcomes over a longer timeframe, using a dynamic simulation model.

Exploring the health benefits of nature

NSLHD Health Promotion are partnering with Macquarie University's The Connective to develop a Nature Wellbeing Walk and Garden at RNSH, to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace. The projects aims to help staff who have been at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research partners from the Black Dog Institute at UNSW Sydney and leading citizen science academics from the University of Sydney will support a co-design process with staff, and work with NSLHD Health Promotion on this exciting research.