The goal of the Sustainable Communities Network is to seek effective interventions that address health inequalities in rural, remote and Indigenous communities through sustainable development and supporting sustainable communities. The Network is part of the Health Inequalities Research Collaboration, now known as the Health Inequalities Ministerial Advisory Committee, a Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing initiative. Its goal is to enhance Australia’s knowledge of the causes of and effective responses to health inequalities, and to promote vigorously the application of this evidence to reduce health inequalities in Australia. This Committee was established in response to the increasing concern for health inequalities and research about the social determinants of health. Much of this energy has come from the UK, with the Black Report (Black, Morris, Smith & Townsend, 1980), followed by the Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health Report (Acheson 1998). The World Health Organisation also commissioned a report collating the social determinants of health ((Marmot & Wilkinson, 1999; Wilkinson & Marmot, 1998). In Australia Turrell, Oldenburg, McGuffog and Dent (1999) have reviewed Australian research on socioeconomic determinants of health.

The research from these and other reviews and studies shows that people who experience social and economic disadvantages tend to be sicker and die younger than others do. These health inequalities are compounded by complex biological, behavioural, cultural and geographic factors. The Sustainable Communities Network captures the breadth of these factors by adopting the concept of sustainability as a way of addressing health inequalities.


Published in Full


Papers and further information from the 7th National Rural Health Conference may be accessed here