SESLHD leads project for equity & wellbeing in public housing areas

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) has joined forces with 10 government and non-government agencies to develop a framework for place-based equity and wellbeing for residents within the south-eastern suburb of Maroubra.

Led by the Directorate of Planning, Population Health and Equity (DPPHE), a workshop was held recently to develop the vision for this new initiative, which aims to build community resilience and optimise wellbeing in the socio-economically disadvantaged parts of Maroubra and surrounding suburbs.


Julie Dixon, Director, DPPHE, said the place-based equity and wellbeing initiative arose from a concern expressed by both government agencies and local residents of public housing estates that there was an urgent need to change the way we engage with and support local communities.


“The initiative uses an asset-based approach which recognises residents are the experts in their own lives and seeks to mobilise the communities' strengths so they have more control over the conditions that affect their health and wellbeing,” Ms Dixon said.


“This reorients our focus towards people and places, rather than institutions and services, to empower residents to address what matters to them; which is crucial to addressing inequities. A focus on wellness rather than illness is also a crucial component of the framework.”


Socio-economically disadvantaged communities within Maroubra and surrounding suburbs have much higher rates of emergency department presentations and hospital admissions as they tend to have multiple and complex health and social care needs.


These neighbourhoods also have substantially higher rates of crime and juvenile offending, social isolation and falls, domestic assault and poor schooling progress. 


Participation in the workshop included local public housing estate residents, the Eastern Suburbs Mental Health Service, Randwick City Council, Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network, The Deli Women and Children's Centre, Eastern Beaches Local Police Command, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, NSW Ambulance Service, Walsh Pharmacy, NSW Department of Education, Uniting War Memorial Hospital, Maroubra Neighbourhood Centre and Kingsford Legal AID Centre.


Four core elements for the place-based initiative framework include:

1. The leasing of a shop-front on a large public housing estate to create a multi-purpose community hub which will provide a community space for residents to meet and run group activities; two consult rooms to improve resident's access to health and social care services, and to interlink them with other health and social services; and fresh fruit and vegetables and other healthy food, provided by OzHarvest.

2. A mobile outreach service to access residents on surrounding public and social housing estates to provide support and link them with health and social care services and the community hub.

3. A network of community connectors from residents who volunteer to offer support and guidance to other residents and direct them to appropriate services and resources.

4. Community grants – small pots of funding for residents to build community ownership, address people’s aspirations and concerns, and enrich community life. e.g. form social group activities such as a choir, yoga,


Currently, a fortnightly 'coffee and conversation' pop-up cafe has been established by Randwick City Council and SESLHD to engage with local residents on health and wellbeing issues. The consultative community engagement process being used to gather information is from the Harwood Institute of Public Innovation which ensures public knowledge is respectfully gathered, shared and identified areas for action, applied.


Between 50 and 80 local residents visit the pop-up café, expressing concerns about issues including community safety, housing, social isolation and mental health.



Group of people around a conference table