Viewing reports by year: 2012

Villawood East HIA Literature Review: Housing Estate Redevelopment and Health

Villawood East is a housing estate in South Western Sydney, NSW, Australia. It was built as a public housing estate, mostly during the early 1950s. The estate has been identified as being in need of improvement; the housing is of a low standard and in need of upgrading and is considered unsuitable for the current and future population. NSW Finance and Services and NSW Family & Community Services are developing a Master Plan for the redevelopment of the Villawood East area.

A HIA of the Master Plan has been carried out collaboratively by the Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation (CHETRE), Population Health South Western Sydney & Sydney Local Health Districts, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) and the NSW Land and Housing Corporation HIA .

Ben Cave Associates were commissioned to carry out a literature review to inform the HIA focussing on the scoped areas of health impact: mental health, social cohesion, access to services and access to good quality space / urban design.

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Harris P, Haigh F, Harris E. (2012) Incorporating health considerations in land-use planning and policy development: a review of activities in Stoke City Council in the UK and suggestions for application in NSW.

There has been increased interest in the relationship between health and the urban environment in recent years. However there has been limited knowledge about how to strategically develop collaborations between organisations which aim to influence ‘healthy’ planning practice. In Sydney, New South Wales, Australia an ongoing collaboration between the Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts and the Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation at the University of New South Wales has been investigating the use of tools, processes and other ways to progress health and equity in urban focussed policy and planning. We have reviewed activities developed by ‘Stoke Healthy City’ in the U.K. to inform our work. The work in Stoke was intuitively appealing because of an explicit intention to work at multiple levels and with different tools and processes. These tools and activities are not particularly innovative in themselves. For example, the Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts already utilise HIA and health development checklists and have a long history of strong community engagement. However, what is unique about Stoke is that it has brought together a range of activities and tools that can be utilised at different stages within the planning and policy development process in order to mainstream the consideration of health into all levels of activity. Given the recent and upcoming changes to the land use and community strategic planning systems in New South Wales the activities detailed in this report provide practical examples of what is required to influence healthy urban planning and policy development.

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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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Haigh F, Harris P, Haigh N. (2012) Health Impact Assessment research and practice: A place for paradigm positioning? Environmental Impact Assessment Review 33(1):66-72


In this article, we provide a critical review of the place of paradigm in health impact assessment (HIA) research and practice. We contend that most HIA practitioners have given insufficient attention to paradigm positioning when developing and applying HIA methodologies and that some concerns about current HIA practice can be attributed to this. We review HIA literature to assess the extent and nature of attention given to paradigm positioning and these related concerns. We then respond to our critique by exploring the implications, opportunities and challenges of adopting a critical realist paradigm, which we believe has the potential to help HIA practitioners to develop HIA methodology in a way that addresses these issues.