The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS)

Supporting improved community health and wellbeing

Some of the most significant determinants of health and wellbeing include income, socio-economic position, access to social support, education, employment, and access to services. These determinants of health are not distributed evenly across the population and affect individuals in different ways. Vulnerable population groups, particularly people who are poor or living in poverty, often do not have the same access to these determinants as the rest of the population.

Poverty and disadvantage is a significant driver of poor health. Research shows that greater levels of inequity are associated with worse health and social outcomes.[1] As the peak body for the non-government health and community services sector in South Australia, SACOSS is a powerful and representative voice that leads and supports the community to take actions that achieve the organisation’s vision of justice, opportunity and shared wealth for all South Australians.

Focus areas for the partnership

The partnership recognises the important role of the sector in promoting community health and wellbeing, and provides opportunities to strengthen collaborative action for health, including increased action on the social determinants of health to address the ‘upstream’ factors which shape health and wellbeing. The formalised partnership will help to gain a better understanding of where the work of the health and community services sector intersects with public health to progress action in line with the goals of the partnership.

There are many opportunities presented by partnering with SACOSS to support the most disadvantaged in our community. This partnership between SACOSS and the Department for Health and Ageing (DHA) aims to optimise these opportunities, particularly at the primary health end where early intervention, prevention of illness and community development practices implemented well will help to support people lead healthier lives.

Key areas of mutual interest for the partnership work focuses on: capacity building, knowledge brokering and skill development; continuing to build a shared agenda for health and wellbeing and reducing inequities; supporting healthy public policy; strengthening public health planning and implementation through opportunities for co-delivery; and innovation.

SACOSS Health and Wellbeing Alliance

To support these focus areas the SACOSS Health and Wellbeing Alliance has been established to enable a greater focus on health and wellbeing across the community services sector, including the social determinants of health. The collaboration between SACOSS and DHA is also guided by the Joint Policy Statement: A shared vision for improved community health and wellbeing (PDF 117KB).

As part of the partnership work, a case study booklet has been developed sharing experiences to mobilise action, support partnerships, and build the capacity of our SA community services sector.

The Promoting health and wellbeing: case studies from the community services sector booklet (PDF 97KB) presents case studies from non-government agencies working to improve outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians.

Promoting health and wellbeing sacoss booklet

[1] Wilkinson, R. and K. Pickett (2009). The spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do better. London, Allen Lane.

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