HIA Reports

Is anyone listening? A Health Impact Assessment of the Western Sydney Airport Community Engagement Process


The Western Sydney Airport (WSA) is a proposed second airport to be located about 50km west of the Sydney central business district. In addition to relieving congestion for the Kingsford Smith Airport, it will serve as a focal point of urban growth for south western metropolitan Sydney.

Community engagement is an important process for providing and responding to community input into large-scale developments such as the WSA. To date there has been limited engagement with various communities and relevant stakeholders, such as affected local governments. Bringing a health lens to any community engagement strategies may help to improve health and wellbeing of communities. For this reason, it was decided to undertake a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of community engagement for the WSA.

The HIA began in June, 2015 and was completed in February, 2017. It was conducted through a partnership between CHETRE and Western Sydney Community Forum. It was supported by South Western Sydney Local Health District. Evidence was collected through literature reviews, community profiling and community workshops that provided qualitative evidence on the impacts of existing engagement strategies, and recommendations to improve engagement processes in the future.

The HIA found that community engagement practices have been very limited and considered insufficient by most affected community members. Current engagement practices are impacting on important determinants of wellbeing, such as: access to information, feeling of control, participation, and risk perception.

It will be important for developers to consider their approach to community engagement as development of the airport and surrounding urban growth area will continue over the next 50 years. The HIA provides recommendations to improve community engagement practices that may be relevant to other airport and large urban development projects.

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