Looking towards 2021 with excitement and hope after a hugely challenging year

The events of this year have put a spotlight on the importance and value of strong public health systems; including research-policy partnerships that support evidence-based decisions and professional, coordinated and scaled-up responses.

The pandemic also highlighted the cracks in many social and economic systems that create the raw vulnerabilities of poverty, insecure work and day-to-day survival. It is apparent the foundations for public health remain, not just important, but essential.

In 2020, many of us have also rediscovered our communities, be that in the physical form of local ‘place’ found through lockdown and working-from-home; or in the online versions where we find and connect with the like-minded. Global and local social movements bring fresh attention to the importance of new power; derived from participation, distributed leadership and citizen-led movements, such as #blacklivesmatter and #youthclimatestrike, which have inspired passion and hope.

There are many lessons for chronic disease prevention. We need a science-based deliberative democracy – with citizen movements and citizen science to support health and wellbeing. In the 2019 Community Paradigm report, UK NGOs described how power shared between public services and the community can help tackle systemic problems.

We also need to communicate our science and values, and the recent Indigenous Evaluation Strategy from the Australian Productivity Commission provides important guidance for ethical, credible, useful and transparent evaluation. Co-production matters. Another inspiring initiative for change is the Doughnut Economics Action Lab:  a systems-based approach for both local and global transformative action on social, economic and environmental problems, with many co-benefits for health and wellbeing.

It is important for prevention research to both understand and describe problems, and to inform action and change. In 2021, the Prevention Centre is launching PreventionWorks LIVE – an exciting new masterclass series with some of Australia’s great change-makers in chronic disease prevention research. We look forward to the opportunity to celebrate and learn from their experience, and to distil valuable lessons for the future and our next generation of researchers, policy makers and practitioners.

We wish you all a peaceful and safe holiday season – with renewal and hope for the new year.

Lucie, Andrew and the Coordinating Centre team