The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR)

Healthy Parks Healthy People SA

A large amount of research has demonstrated the strong connections between contact with nature and human health and wellbeing, including physical and psychological health, and social and cultural wellbeing.

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and the Department for Health and Ageing (DHA) have a long-standing relationship around many issues, and a history of successfully collaborating on a number of policy areas of mutual interest.

The aim of this PHPA is to set out the parameters for collaboration between DEWNR and DHA, and provides a basis for DEWNR and DHA to work in partnership to build public value of parks in South Australia, and improve the health and wellbeing of populations through a combination of broad policies, programs and targeted initiatives.

A key outcome of this partnership has been the development and implementation of the Healthy Parks Healthy People SA (HPHPSA) approach. HPHPSA is a nature-based approach for simultaneously improving population health and environmental outcomes - enabling the environment and health sectors to work more closely together and focus resources towards implementing innovative approaches to health and wellbeing and conservation.

The framework ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy People South Australia 2016-2021: Making Contact with Nature, Second Nature (PDF 5.7MB) sets out seven focus areas: promoting physical activity in nature; mental health benefits of contact with nature; promoting the cultural value of Country for Aboriginal health and wellbeing; community health and wellbeing in a changing climate; childhood development and nature; green infrastructure and urban settings, and biodiversity, conservation and human health. The Healthy Parks Health People SA information sheet (PDF 438KB) provides a short summary of the framework.

Over the framework’s five-year lifespan, action plans will be rolled out, guided by a leadership group co-chaired by the Chief Executive of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and the Deputy Chief Executive of the Department for Health and Ageing.

The first Action Plan ‘Realising the mental health benefits of contact with nature (PDF 2MB)’ was launched in October 2016. This Action Plan recognises that investment in upstream mental health promotion strategies can lessen the demand for downstream treatment of mental illness. This plan outlines the role of nature in mental health prevention and promotion and presents a series of short term outcomes aimed to strengthen this approach as part of the HPHP SA framework.

The first key action outlined in this action plan, was to develop a discussion paper providing evidence and opportunities to support the governments mental health agenda, including the Suicide Prevention Strategy 2017 and the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan 2017. This discussion paper Connecting nature and parks to mental health promotion and mental illness prevention strategies in South Australia (PDF 2MB) was finalised in May 2017. A two page summary of this work has also been developed (PDF 484KB)

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