Inaugural public health strategy aims for health equity

April 14, 2024 BY

The launch of the public health strategy was followed by a panel, comprised of key stakeholders, discussing the issues facing communities in the Barwon South West region. Photo: SUPPLIED

RISING rates of chronic disease and inequitable health outcomes across the Barwon South West (BSW) region has prompted the release of the region’s first dedicated public health strategy.

Key public health stakeholders from across the BSW region gathered recently in Camperdown to launch the strategy, which calls for a collaborative approach between industry players to address ongoing public health concerns.

The plan has been shaped through consultations with these stakeholders, including local governments, rural and regional health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and non-government organisations.

Its approach is inspired by the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought together key players in the public health ecosystem for the first time, demonstrating how a cooperative approach to decision-making can contribute to better health outcomes.

Across the region, people are living longer with more chronic disease and health outcomes vary significantly depending on where one lives.

In many instances, local health organisations and networks are struggling to keep up with increased demand for their services and navigate the complexity in health conditions people are presenting with.

A key feature of the strategy is addressing these existing health disparities in the region and ensuring a health equity lens is brought to both the planning and implementation of future public health interventions.


Barwon South West Public Health Unit director Professor Eugene Athan (left) and co-director Deborah Kay with the Public Health Strategy document. Photo: SUPPLIED


“The most significant threats to human health in the 21st century are public health challenges and addressing these complex issues will require a strong and agile preventative health network,” BSW Public Health Unit (PHU) director Professor Eugene Athan said.

“The Public Health Strategy for the Barwon South West region articulates a pathway to realise the region’s vision that communities across the Barwon South West achieve their best possible health and wellbeing.”

The PHU was first established in 2020 to coordinate resources and build on local knowledge to manage COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.

It now aims to provide support to public health stakeholders across the region, offering these organisations tools to assist their work and taking a leading role on public health campaigns.

Giulia Baggio, chief executive of the G21-Geelong Region Alliance welcomed the public health strategy.

“A high standard of health and wellbeing for all communities sits at the heart of positive social and economic outcomes for our rapidly growing region – and this standard rightly sits at the heart of the PHU strategy,” she said.

“It provides a proactive, practical public health focus and promotes a systems approach, building on the famous collaborative strengths of the region as we tackle new and entrenched challenges in our growing communities.”

For more information, or to view the Barwon South West Public Health Strategy, visit bswphu.org.au