‘ Our children have dramatically different life chances depending on where they were born…The poorest of the poor have high levels of illness and premature mortality…
…Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale.’
(World Health Organisation Commission on Social Determinants of Health; Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health; 2008.)
Health equity is an issue between countries, within countries and in Australia, within states. A report published by the South Australian Department of Health in 2004, included the following findings:
Across the South Australian population as a whole, there are substantial inequalities in the distribution of aspects of health, wellbeing and education.
Aboriginal people as a group fare worse on all indicators for which data are available – unemployment, labour force participation, education, life expectancy, health risks, and so on – than non-Aboriginal South Australians.
The report goes on to say that,
‘There is now substantial evidence that wellbeing is the result of complex interactions in the social, economic, biological and ecological environments in which people live. A lack of enabling social and environmental conditions result in poor outcomes for people. However, if these environments are supportive, they provide a foundation for the developing of competence and skills that underpin learning, behaviour, health and wellbeing throughout life.’ (Hetzel, D. et.al; Inequality in South Australia: Key Determinants of Wellbeing, Volume 1; Department of Health; 2004; pvii.)
This situation is avoidable and can be addressed through public policy in areas such as housing, education, employment and early childhood development. These are also areas which are addressed by the various community service organisations and numerous congregations working in their local communities.
You can learn more about the connections between social, economic and environment factors and community wellbeing by reading some of the following:
- SACOSS Social Determinants of Health Information Paper
Social Determinants of Health Report (237 kb PDF)
- Department of Health Report, Inequality in South Australia: Key Determinants of Wellbeing, 2004. This document can be downloaded at: http://www.publichealth.gov.au/publications/inequality-in-south-australia---key-determinants-of-wellbeing_-volume-1%3a-the-evidence.html
- World Health Organisation, Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health equity through social action on social determinants of health. Available for download at: http://www.who.int/social_determinants/thecommission/finalreport/en/index.html
- You can also visit the Social Health Atlas of South Australia
You can take action on these issues in the following ways:
- Consider how your congregation or group might be able to respond to the wellbeing and inequity issues in your local community.
- Volunteer with a community organisation such as one of the UnitingCare organisations.
- Write to your local MP or local Council to raise issues of concern and advocate for change.
‘Access to quality housing and shelter and clean water and sanitation are human rights and basic needs for health living.’
(World Health Organisation, 2008 p6.)