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Start where health starts Health starts long before illness - it starts in our everyday lives. Research has shown that the houses we live in, the transport we are able to access, the level of stress in our lives, the job we have or don’t have, the social support we have around us and how much money we’ve got, have as much impact on our health and wellbeing as our genes and behaviours. These factors in our lives are known as the Social Determinants of Health. The Social Determinants of Health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, play and age. They are sometimes referred to as ‘the causes of the causes’ because they are the underlying reasons why people experience poor health.

Why it’s important We need to ensure that all Tasmanians can access the health care they need, but we also need to make sure that we make it less likely that they need health care. Where and how we live our lives has an enormous impact on whether we stay well in the first place. The more we see the problems of health in this way, the more opportunities we have to improve it. Health starts with strong, loving families and in neighbourhoods with footpaths safe for walking and shops with fresh vegetables.

The Social Determinants of Health

Working together to address the social factors that affect the health & wellbeing of Tasmanians

Health starts with our relationships with our families, friends and colleagues. Health starts with jobs we are satisfied with, that we can get to easily and in work places free of discrimination and bullying. Health starts with schools that educate our children for life and work, and send them home safe at the end of the day. Health starts with having the time and financial resources to relax at the end of a hard day’s work, because unrelieved stress takes its toll on our hearts and immune systems. And health starts with being given equal opportunity and being accepted for who we are. Studies have shown that these factors have an enormous impact on our health, long before we ever see a doctor. It’s time we expand the way we think about health to include how to keep it, not just how to get it back. We need to start where health starts, not just where it ends. All Tasmanians should have the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their income, where they live, social position, education, gender, capabilities or cultural background.

Reference: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health.

Social determinants of health action sheets  
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