Social Determinants of Health Special Interest Group


This SIG will serve the particular policy area of the social determinants of health and health inequalities. This perspective:

  • takes a holistic view of health and the interdependence and connections between the physical, psychological, emotional, cultural and social dimensions of health
  • identifies the social processes that exacerbate health inequalities or disparities (WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health,
  • focuses on how people are positioned in different health discourses and associated policies and practices and the implications of this
  • supports key changes in health policy required to address systemic inequalities clearly demonstrated through health gap and health gradient analyses globally between countries and locally within countries


The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age and the systems put in place to deal with illness (Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2008).

Health inequities, brought about by the social circumstances of people’s lives in all countries around the globe, have achieved prominence as a result of such initiatives as the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health.

Along with the burden of disease, health gradients and health gaps, often exacerbated by poverty and a lack of resources have become key ways of understanding global inequities in both the developed and the developing world. These broader understandings in conjunction with human agency and biological factors provide scope for the inclusion of future initiatives in health policy that support and enhance civil society.

Although health status for most western countries including Australia continues to improve, health inequalities remain constant for several key groups, perhaps the most notable being Indigenous Australians.

Past Events

Social Determinants of Health Special Interest Group Forum

27 July 2012

There are various underlying social determinants that affect the health of populations. The rhetoric surrounding the social determinants of health often focuses on the problem without providing actual solutions to the issue. The aim of the forum was to provide examples of "health in all policies".

Guest speakers:

  • Professor Peter Sainsbury, Director of Population Health in South Western Sydney
  • Deb Wildgoose, Senior Project Officer, Health in all Policies Unit, South Australia Health
  • Isobel Ludford, Project Officer, Health in all Policies Unit, South Australia Health
  • Dr. Stacy Carter, Centre for Values, Ethics & Law in Medicine, University of Sydney
  • Professor Alan Cass, Senior Director, Renal & Metabolic Division, George Insitute for Global Health
  • Professor John MacDonald, School of Science and Health,University of Western Sydney
  • Dr Catherine Hawke, School of Rural Health, University of Sydney
  • Centre for Population Health, NSW Ministry of Health

Resources from Forum

To join the group please contact:

Dr. Rosalie Pockett