There is increasing awareness that our health is closely linked to the natural and built environments in which we live.
Chronic diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the leading causes of ill health in Australia. By considering the wider determinants of health, including social and economic conditions, the focus turns more to the health of communities rather than that of the individual.
That is why, as part of a stronger focus on prevention NSW Health has been developing its capacity to support built environments which contribute to ensuring that our communities start out and stay healthy.
NSW Health staff are engaged in a range of projects that promote healthy built environments.
Healthy Built Environments Program
NSW Health has provided funding of $1.5m over five years to establish the Healthy Built Environments Program in the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW. The Program fosters interdisciplinary research between health and the built environment, delivers innovative cross disciplinary education and capacity building, and aims to be a leader in NSW advocating for close links between health and the built environment.
To support the development of NSW Health staff’s capacity to influence healthy design and the built environment the Healthy Urban Development Checklist was created. The purpose of the checklist is to assist health professionals to provide advice on urban development policies, plans and proposals.
Healthy Urban Development Checklist
In 2010 the Healthy Urban Development Checklist was included in the Planning Director-General's Requirements for Warnervale Town Centre, Woolworth's Retail Development on the NSW Central Coast.
In 2010 the Checklist was included in the Planning Director-General’s Requirements for the Airds Bradbury Urban Renewal Project and in 2011 it was included in the Planning Director-General’s Requirements for the Claymore Urban Renewal Concept Plan. Both projects are in South West Sydney.
NSW Health has also supported a project with the Premier’s Council for Active Living to create resources for developers on Designing Projects for Active Living. The NSW Developer’s Checklist is designed to assist developers who wish to include urban design factors that promote active living.
As part of promoting child friendly environments NSW Health is also supporting the NSW Commission for Children and Young People work in this area by providing funding for:
- A seminar series in 2011 and 2012 targeted at built environment professionals and social policy makers about the importance of the built environment to children and young people’s well-being
- Regional training workshops for local government to support them to involve children in decision-making about the planning and design of built environments.