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Regional Office for the South West Pacific

Notes from the Seminar:
Contributing to Global Action to Promote Health
held in Perth following the National Health Promotion Conference
Thursday 27th May 1999


Monica Bensberg
Bret Hart
Linda Jackson
Lynne Madden
Jacqui Richmond
Laurie St Leger
Andrew Zoerner

Welcome and Introduction

Marilyn Wise (Regional Vice President, SW Pacific Region) welcomed people to the meeting especially Rosmarie Erben, Regional Director of South West Pacific Region, (IUHPE) and Ron Labonte, visiting professor at Deakin University. Members and visitors introduced themselves.

Professor Ron Labonte gave a presentation "Globalisation and its implications for health and health promotion". He gave a very astute and comprehensive talk about the issues and future implications both possible threats and benefits for health and how this related to our work as health promoters. Two background papers have been circulated with these notes. An abridged version of the presentation will be forwarded to participants. And a full version will be printed in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia later in 1999.

Regional bid for World Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education in 2004

M Wise asked the meeting whether there would be interest among this group for making a Regional bid for the 2004 World Conference. The interest of Australian Health Promotion Association would consider this a priority and is very keen to support the development of a bid. C. Hamilton from the New Zealand Health Promotion Forum was supportive of the idea of hosting the conference in this Region as well. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has indicated its support for the possible hosting/bid of the conference.

Following discussion it was agreed that there is a high level of support for putting in a bid. However, there are two major issues to be further explored before a more formal process begins. The first is that of funds and organisational support to develop the proposal. The proposal to hold a World Conference must meet strict criteria established by the Board of Trustees of the IUHPE. It is a considerable undertaking to prepare the bid, itself. M. Wise and R. Erben will continue to explore avenues through which we might obtain the necessary support.

The second issue is that of the principal theme of the conference. R. Erben tabled a discussion paper with some suggestions for direction and themes for such a conference and there was support for this among participants at this meeting. However, it will need further discussion both within the Region and at global level.

Marilyn Wise agreed to register our interest in the bid at the Board of Trustees meeting in June 1999 and to explore the suggested theme. We will need to put in a formal submission at the next Conference in July 2001.

There was significant discussion about how groups could work together to host the conference and to undertake other activities for the Union. These would be coordinated through the members of IUHPE as a first point. It was noted that a membership drive will be a necessary precursor to there being a successful bid from this Region (and to many other activities).

Marilyn and Rosmarie outlined some of the history of the IUHPE and its growth in this region, noting that the Region was formally constituted only in 1995.

Rob Moodie mentioned that VicHealth are assisting with the organisation of the next WHO international conference in Mexico in June 2000. In that role the organisation is having input into the stream around globalisation and health. Rosmarie asked that people go back to their workplace and seek support from groups or organisations for their membership of the organisation.

Discussion re further action to promote Global Health

The meeting was opened up for discussion and ideas about how this Regional group could take action to support the further development of the ideas and actions that had been suggested through Ron Labonte's presentation. It was agreed that, in addition to the activities suggested below we would seek advice from Ron and offer the support of this Region for the work he and many others have been doing to influence global decisions affecting health - including, for example, the decisions of the World Trade Organisation.

Rosmarie highlighted the fact that ongoing work was already under way in the Union - through an advocacy group. There is also work being conducted by the Public Health Association of Australia and the Canadian Public Health Association that would assist us to further develop our role.

The low profile or lack of awareness of the importance of globalisation as a health promotion issue was raised. Marilyn suggested that individual action at a local level was necessary to overcome this and encouraged members to share Ron's ideas with others.

The next National Health Promotion Conference is to be held in Melbourne in October 1999. A 'global' theme is already included and it was suggested that someone from the WTO or the Australian ambassador to that organisation be invited to speak at the Conference.

One creative mechanism for developing local knowledge and interest is that of the 'Passion Café' - community-based discussion sessions that have arisen through the work of futurists such as Robert Theobald to encourage wide participation in deciding on our futures. These 'cafes' might run in conjunction with the National Health Promotion Conference - thereby bringing together an opportunity for participants to enjoy meeting in the surrounding community and to discuss issues in relaxed venues. A number of these discussion sessions are already being facilitated in cafes and other meeting places around the country.

The World Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education July 15-20, 2001

The next world conference is to be in Paris in July 2001. Its theme is "Health: an investment for a just society". Three sub-themes will be explored and debated - ethics, evidence and advocacy. The first announcement will be circulated later this year.

The possibility of organising a South West Pacific regional workshop about infrastructure and what has worked/ different approaches to infrastructure for health promotion was raised. While funds are always difficult (to enable people from a range of countries to attend), the Regional Office will investigate the possibility.

Marilyn brought the meeting to a close and promised to feedback to people on her return from the meeting of the Board of Trustees in Quebec City.

Feedback from Board of Trustees Meeting

M. Wise attended the meeting in Quebec City in the first week of June 1999. As promised, I raised the issues that had been highlighted at the Perth seminar. The outcomes of discussion on these issues were as follow:

The Board adopted a draft resolution on 'Promoting health in an era of global free trade' and M. Wise was appointed Chair of the IUHPE Working Group to take up the actions proposed in the resolution. A copy of the resolution is attached. There is real room for local action in addition to the global initiatives (which will, by virtue of the IUHPE being a member-driven, relatively resource-poor organisation) will require considerable commitment from many individuals and organisations.

The Board was generally supportive of the idea of the South West Pacific Region preparing a bid for the 2004 World Conference. However the Board also suggested expanding the proposed theme to include a wider range of population groups and suggested 'Culture and Equity' as the broad theme for the Conference. This does not mean that it is certain that the SW Pacific Region (or Australia) will put together a bid; nor does it imply any endorsement by the Board either of the theme or of our bid. However, it was useful feedback for the Regional Committee as we now explore the realities of preparing a Conference bid.

In response to pressure from around the globe to simplify the payment of membership fees the organisation is moving to make it possible to join using the www and using credit cards.

The Board also congratulated the Region on its initiative in holding the seminar following the National Health Promotion Conference.

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