Viewing reports by topic: Healthy Public Policy

Health Impact Assessment in New South Wales & Health in All Policies in South Australia: differences, similarities and connections

Delany T, Harris P, Williams C, Harris E, Baum F, Lawless A, Wildgoose D, Haigh F, MacDougall C, Broderick D et al: Health Impact Assessment in New South Wales & Health in All Policies in South Australia: differences, similarities and connections. BMC Public Health 2014, 14(1):699.


Policy decisions made within all sectors have the potential to influence population health and equity. Recognition of this provides impetus for the health sector to engage with other sectors to facilitate the development of policies that recognise, and aim to improve, population outcomes. This paper compares the approaches implemented to facilitate such engagement in two Australian jurisdictions. These are Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in New South Wales (NSW) and Health in All Policies (HiAP) in South Australia (SA).


The comparisons presented in this paper emerged through collaborative activities between stakeholders in both jurisdictions, including critical reflection on HIA and HiAP practice, joint participation in a workshop, and the preparation of a discussion paper written to inform a conference plenary session. The plenary provided an opportunity for the incorporation of additional insights from policy practitioners and academics.


Comparison of the approaches indicates that their overall intent is similar. Differences exist, however, in the underpinning principles, technical processes and tactical strategies applied. These differences appear to stem mainly from the organisational positioning of the work in each state and the extent to which each approach is linked to government systems.


The alignment of the HiAP approach with the systems of the SA Government increases the likelihood of influence within the policy cycle. However, the political priorities and sensitivities of the SA Government limit the scope of HiAP work. The implementation of the HIA approach from outside government in NSW means greater freedom to collaborate with a range of partners and to assess policy issues in any area, regardless of government priorities. However, the comparative distance of HIA from NSW Government systems may reduce the potential for impact on government policy. The diversity in the technical and tactical strategies that are applied within each approach provides insight into how the approaches have been tailored to suit the particular contexts in which they have been implemented.

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The fit between health impact assessment and public policy: practice meets theory.

Harris P, Sainsbury P, Kemp L. The fit between health impact assessment and public policy: practice meets theory. Social Science & Medicine 2014;108:46-53.



Knowledge about health focussed policy collaboration to date has been either tactical or technical. This article focusses on both technical and tactical issues to describe the experience of cross-sectoral collaboration between health and housing stakeholders across the life of a housing master plan, including but not limited to a health impact assessment (HIA).

Study design

A single explanatory case study of collaboration on a master plan to regenerate a deprived housing estate in Western Sydney was developed to explain why and how the collaboration worked or did not work.


Data collection included stakeholder interviews, document review, and reflections by the health team. Following a realist approach, data was analysed against established public policy theory dimensions.


Tactically we did not know what we were doing. Despite our technical knowledge and skills with health focussed processes, particularly HIA, we failed to appreciate complexities inherent in master planning. This limited our ability to provide information at the right points. Eventually however the HIA did provide substantive connections between the master plan and health. We use our analysis to develop technical and tactical rules of engagement for future cross-sectoral collaboration.


Harris PJ, Kemp LA, Sainsbury P. The essential elements of health impact assessment and healthy public policy: a qualitative study of practitioner perspectives. BMJ Open. 2012 Nov 19;2(6).

Open Access, available from

Objectives This study uses critical realist methodology to identify the essential and contingent elements of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and Healthy Public Policy (HPP) as operationalised by practitioners.

Design Data collection—qualitative interviews and a workshop were conducted with HIA and HPP practitioners working in differing contexts.

Data analysis Critical realist analytical questions identified the essential elements of HIA and HPP, the relationship between them, and the influences of public policy and other contingencies on the practice of both.

Participants Nine interviews were conducted with purposively sampled participants working in Europe, USA and Australasia. 17 self-selected participants who worked in Europe, South East Asia and Australasia attended the workshop.

Results The results clarify that HIA and HPP are different but mutually supporting. HIA has four characteristics: assessing a policy proposal to predict population health and equity impacts, a structured process for stakeholder dialogue, making recommendations and flexibly adapting to the policy process. HPP has four characteristics: concern with a broad definition of health, designing policy to improve people’s health and reduce health inequities, intersectoral collaboration and influencing the policy cycle from inception to completion. HIA brings to HPP prediction about a policy’s broad health impacts, and a structured space for intersectoral engagement, but is one approach within a broader suite of HPP activities. Five features of public policy and seven contingent influences on HIA and HPP practice are identified.

Conclusions This study clarifies the core attributes of HIA and HPP as separate yet overlapping while subject to wider influences. This provides the necessary common language to describe the application of both and avoid conflated expectations of either. The findings present the conceptual importance of public policy and the institutional role of public health as distinct and important influences on the practice of HIA and HPP.

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