From Local to Global Health Connections

Health and wellbeing development trends go beyond individual factors, by connecting community trends to broader Australian and international social issues. This includes the services and facilities that people have access to, their experiences of social connectedness (which can impact knowledge and access to local services) and broader socio-economic patterns. Shifts in the labour market, changes to the national budget and other factors impact on local dynamics and the ability for ordinary community members and their families to maximise their health. Local health and wellbeing plans are connected to other policies and strategies by the Council; state and federal government legislation; regional priorities; national social policies; and international guidelines.

For example, the Victorian Local Government Act of 1989 imbues local Councils with the responsibility to improve the quality of life for the community, and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act specifies other roles such as sanitation, immunisation, and strengthening health and resilience of communities.  Councils must also observe other government frameworks and council planning schemes to maintain diversity, sustainability, safety and effective governance.

Global Connections

Global health initiatives

Local councils also work in partnership with regional and government programs regarding health, including mental wellbeing, cancer, and reducing morbidity such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Local Councils collaborate with health professional networks including hospitals, women’s health services, and other medical groups. Local Councils work with state and federal policies to combat health issues through prevention. Councils contribute by providing community members with information and skills to improve their lifestyle and wellbeing, screening for early detection of illnesses, and monitoring patterns to identify, analyse and target ongoing and emerging health issues. Victorian health initiatives encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, such as increasing healthy physical activity, nutrition, mental health promotion, sexual and reproductive information, smoking control, anti-skin cancer initiatives and injury prevention.

Councils also comply with various Victorian Acts and regulations, including the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008; the Food Act; the Tobacco Act; the Public Health and Wellbeing Act; the Climate Change Act; the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act; and so on. These laws are similarly centred on prevention rather than treatment of illnesses wherever possible. These laws seek to protect individuals and reduce stigma by placing health into a public domain, where Councils and governments work together to mitigate health risks. At the national level, the Commonwealth has identified key health priority areas that local councils also address, related to physical health (cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions); mental health (also including dementia); and injury prevention. Councils additionally work with the Government’s network of Medicare Locals and the Australian National Preventive health Agency.

Finally, local councils also work with global policies set out by health leaders such as the World Health Organisation, which address equality of health for vulnerable groups while also supporting community action. These international policies also seek to improve social capital more broadly, in order to develop health and life skills as well as to enhance quality of life. Moreover international health programs seek to improve labour force productivity and wellbeing. Global health initiatives are guided by a focus on removing age, racial, cultural, linguistic and other barriers in access and inclusion to improve public health.