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Global Health Centre

Health in All Policies: Evaluating the South Australian Approach to Intersectoral Action for Health


New policy approaches based on the understanding “health is needed everywhere” are required. A Health in all Policies (HiAP) approach is characterized by common goals, integrated responses to health and shared accountability arrangements across government departments. HiAP has been developed as a means of embedding concern for health impacts in the policy-making process.

In South Australia, specific structures and processes to achieve this have been introduced and tested. In 2008 and assisted by Professor Ilona Kickbusch, the South Australian government committed itself to a HiAP approach which is designed to engage policy officers and managers in all sectors of government. The aim is to build healthy public policy across the 15 different government departments. An important factor in the adoption of HiAP is the demonstration of its applicability to a key policy driver, namely the South Australia’s Strategic Plan (SASP). Linking HiAP with SASP highlighted the interconnections between health and SASP targets, and engaged the most senior levels of government. In this context, the primary mechanism of the South Australian HiAP approach is the health lens analysis (HLA) – an intersectoral, partnership process drawing on public health research methods. It has been applied to three different separate public policy issues so far: water security, digital technology and migration. HLA examines connections among policy, strategies and health in a systematic manner and aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations that support sound policy and health outcomes. The process aims to identify how to not only ameliorate the negative health impacts of policy proposals but also promote the ways in which health can be developed and supported, a perspective sometimes neglected.

In South Australia, the analysis identified common themes related to increase understanding of the social determinants of health, evidence to inform policy-making, changes in policy direction and a positive disposition to the HLA as a method of intersectoral collaboration. Furthermore, the evaluation findings suggest that the HLA have resulted in increased overall understanding by policy-makers of the impact of their work on health outcomes, development and dissemination of policy-relevant research, greater understanding and stronger partnerships between health and other government departments, and a positive disposition toward employing health lens analyses in future work.