Australian Health Inequities Program (AHIP)

The AHIP program continued in 2006 with $2.4 million of funding over 5 years from NHMRC. AHIP brings together researchers from a range of disciplines including public health, labour market economics, housing and geography, to address health inequities and analyse policy and program strategies that aim to reduce them. AHIP is headed by Professor Fran Baum, Discipline of Public Health (Flinders University) and also involves Associate Professor Anne Kavanagh, Key Centre for Women's Health (University of Melbourne), Professor Andrew Beer in the School of Geography, Population and Environmental Management (Flinders University) and Professor Sue Richardson, Director of the National Institute of Labour Studies (Flinders University). Links with AHIP are beneficial to SACHRU in that it enables the Unit to keep up on the latest thinking in health inequities research.

Health inequities remain a significant feature of Australia's health profile. AHIP examines the complex causes of such inequities, including the contribution of our housing, employment, social connections, the places people live in, and perceptions of our environment. This information is already contributing to debates about what level of inequities are acceptable in a country such as Australia and, most importantly, provide guidance to government, service providers and community groups about how to improve the quality of people's local environments and reduce the health differences between different groups of Australians. This happens though annual retreats at which SACHRU researchers are present.

On 14 September 2006, following the International Society for Equity in Health Conference, the Australian Health Inequities Program (AHIP) convened a one-day conference on Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Health Inequities Research at Union House, University of Adelaide.

The opening session, Getting a Team Together and Working Well , was presented by Professor Ron Labonte, Director, Globalization and Health Equity Research Unit, University of Ottawa, Professor Sue Richardson, Director, National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University, and Professor Fran Baum, Head, Discipline of Public Health, Flinders University. The speakers analysed issues round the formation of a multi-disciplinary team and strategies to sustain the team's commitment through the inevitable difficulties and changes encountered in long-term research projects.

The following session, Findings from the Mitsubishi Project Team , provided an overview of the impact of the closure of the Mitsubishi factory on individual workers, their family members and the broader community in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. The panel comprised Holli Thomas, Fran Baum and Fiona Verity from Flinders University, with comments coming from Tony Woollacott, Strategic Planning and Analysis, SA Department of Health.

The concluding sessions explored Methodological and Epistemological Challenges that confront a multidisciplinary team and Translating Multi-disciplinary Research into Policy. Not surprisingly, the sessions provoked spirited discussion and prompted a range of stimulating questions from the floor.