Do Healthy Communities Create Healthy People?


As part of our work with clients in South Australia between 2010-2012, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with thousands of people living in metropolitan Adelaide to discuss their vision for the future. The conversations were predominantly part of community planning processes, at both a local and state level. Conversations were held face-to-face as well as using online tools.

This model shows that many layers exist within a healthy, thriving community.

The things that impact on people’s health includes their individual lifestyle; social and community networks; how we live and work; through to broader socio-economic conditions. The original Social Determinants of Health model (Dahlgren & Whitehead 1991) also shows how age, gender and hereditary factors have a central role to play in determining the health of an individual.

This model highlights the need for all sectors of Government to engage with communities on the broad range of topics shown. This is not only essential for efficient and effective service delivery but to contribute to an overall healthy community. It also highlights the importance of collaborative working – between Government departments and agencies, between the Government and the community, and between the community themselves. The model highlights that everything we do can impact on the health and well-being of the people living within that community.

We were also thrilled to hear that empowered citizens; people working collaboratively; and civic responsibility, values and pride were important to the community. Even more so, the desire to know our neighbours seems to rate very highly for people living in metropolitan Adelaide.

It should be noted that whilst we have used the information we’ve heard to apply it to a Social Determinants of Health model, this wasn’t the context in which people were asked about the future of their community. In general, conversations were based on generic questioning about their aspirations for their future community.


  • Rachel Malena October 8, 2013 - 3:27 am Reply

    Hi there, I’m part of an organization called Upstream: Institute for a Healthy Society. We are a Canadian think-tank and community-builder out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan working to reframe public discourse around the social determinants of health. I just came across this infographic online and I was wondering if we might be able to use it on our facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/UpstreamAction. Let me know if that would be possible, and what copyright we should be listing. Thanks!

    Rachel Malena

  • beckyhirst October 8, 2013 - 10:10 am Reply

    Hi Rachel. Thanks so much for the message – particularly nice of you to ask permission to use the image. Please feel free to share it far and wide! The image itself has my copyright on it in the bottom right corner and as long as that is kept as part of the image I’m happy! But if you want to be extra nice you can feel free to signpost people to my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/beckyhirstconsulting

    Thanks again and I’ve ‘liked’ Upstream on Facebook now so will be sure to follow your work! Sounds fabulous.

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