Michelle Morgan delivered this presentation at the Public Health Association of Australia’s (PHAA’s) annual prevention conference in Brisbane, 11-13 May 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted societal function and provides a rare opportunity to reassess collective priorities and change entrenched system behaviours for better societal outcomes, such as reducing the prevalence of chronic, non-communicable diseases and conditions. The aim of this presentation is to :
- Offer a systems thinking perspective on the significance of the changes that occurred in response to the pandemic
- Highlight the importance of place in responding to local-level health needs
- How the pandemic offers a rare opportunity for transformational change to build back better.
This perspective is grounded to empirical data from the local government sector in Tasmania, Australia whereby 81 members from the sector shared their views on what governmental changes occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that could be leveraged to improve health more broadly. Amongst the changes respondents advocated for, the ongoing prioritisation of health and action on the social determinants of health received overwhelming support. Unless this opportunity for change is taken, poor health outcomes and health inequities are likely to be exacerbated in the longer term.