Every now and then there is a little fracture in the busyness of the day, and peering through it is the heat of my coffee mug on my hands, a whiff of ocean breeze on my face or bright sunlight squinting my eyes.  

And I remember: we’re just brains in bodies, capable of everything from cooking pancakes to driving tractors and writing poetry.  

Our bodies and our health are so crucial, and so incredible, but somehow so easy to ignore. If there is ever a time to focus on the importance of our health, it’s World Health Day. And this one’s a doozy.  

This year’s theme is: My health, my right. This theme was chosen to:  

champion the right of everyone, everywhere to have access to quality health services, education, and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination.  

We have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to look after our own health. But to do that we need to be supported by systems and a culture that is based on human rights. As I reflect on this theme, I realise that The Social Deck is not only working directly on health focussed issues, but tackling the systemic and cultural goals of ‘My health, my right’ every day too.

We support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and only take on projects that support and affirm human rights. Many of the projects we work on are designed to support the right for Australians to have access to health services, healthy environmental conditions and a healthy society.  

For example:

When we recently engaged with communities to inform the National Housing and Homelessness Plan, the focus was on hearing about solutions to ensure access to affordable housing and to reducing homelessness, moving a step closer to quality housing for everyone.

And when we worked with the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, we weren’t just developing and implementing a communication strategy about their advocacy and services to reach multicultural communities. We were working towards a future free from discrimination.

While projects like this keep us busy working across the SDGs, we remain passionate about engaging and communicating on health issues.

Specific to health, our focus has been on the right to equity of access to health for all people, but particularly women and girls.

In a project close to home for many of us, we conducted workshops to inform the Queensland Women’s Health Strategy. This was a great chance to work with the health sector and better understand the issues and challenges they face.

We also conducted nation-wide consultations for the National Obesity Strategy which has a strong focus on improving equity for Australians to live healthy lives. We also applied these learnings to support engagement of the Queensland Obesity Prevention Strategy and Action Plan.

In recent years, we’ve also been lucky enough to contribute to increasing screening rates as part of the National Cervical Screening Program, twice. Both projects focused on reaching those who experienced more barriers to screening. We developed and tested new communication resources and messaging to encourage people to book their cervical screening appointments, basing this on insights from priority groups and then using a randomised control trial to make sure messaging was informed by data and evidence. This was followed by work to support the rollout of cervical screening self-collection, particularly among those who this may benefit most such as from First Nations and CALD populations and among women who may have had negative experiences with screening.  

Across our projects, our work is a direct reflection of My health, my right. Health is for every body, just like human rights.  

So this World Health Day, when that moment strikes me that I’m a brain in a body, I’m going to use it to think about what I can do for my health (time for a flu vaccine), what I can do for others (it’s been a while since I donated blood), and then get back to work on supporting human rights for the health of all Australians.

How can we help?
We can help you engage with your communities and stakeholders about health and develop strategies, programs and policies to support improved health outcomes.
Casey Harrigan
Production Manager