World-leading Tasmanian health literacy initiative to empower a generation

World-leading Tasmanian health literacy initiative to empower a generation

Tasmanian primary schools could soon have access to an internationally acclaimed health literacy initiative developed in Tasmania, designed to empower future generations to take control of their own health and wellbeing. 

HealthLit4Kids is an evidence-based program developed by Tasmanian specialist researchers Dr Rosie Nash and Dr Shandell Elmer. It has already been included in three World Health Organisation reports as an exemplar for addressing non-communicable diseases (chronic conditions) such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

HealthLit4Kids is a youth targeted program that supports primary schools to build the health literacy of staff and students in developing a culture through which the needs of the whole school community are identified and supported. 

St Lukes wants the incoming government to commit to core funding for HealthLit4Everyone so it can ensure the rollout of its HealthLit4Kids program in all 123 Tasmanian primary schools in its first term. 

CEO Paul Lupo said health literacy was a social determinant of health, capable of redressing inequity, and was integral to the organisation’s vision to make Tasmania the healthiest island on the planet.

“Health literacy ensures everyone in the community, regardless of background or education level, can access and understand essential health information, enabling them to actively participate in their own health and wellbeing,” Mr Lupo said. 

“We are calling on a newly elected government to commit to a focused effort on health literacy in Tasmanian primary schools with the aim of creating a generation that can find, understand and use health information and services. 

“Tasmanians experience significant challenges when it comes to both their health literacy and educational attainment, each having a compounding effect on the other. 
“If we equip our children with the invaluable asset of health literacy, we will see a transformative intergenerational impact on Tasmania’s health outcomes.”

HealthLit4Everyone CEO Dr Rosie Nash said health literacy was an essential life skill that should be developed with children and adolescents before health behaviours were formed. 
“Research shows we do most of our learning about how to be healthy with our family and friends during our school years, meaning quality health education in primary schools is essential for healthy learners and healthy communities,” Dr Nash said. 

“Health education in primary schools is usually taught by classroom teachers, and our research shows they often report that they do not have the time or knowledge to confidently include health in classroom lessons.