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Systemic transformation: Learnings and successes from Healthy Families NZ

The Healthy Families NZ approach has reached international audiences recently, through a Health & Place Journal featured on Science Direct. The article "Building a systems-thinking community workforce to scale action on determinants of health in New Zealand" describes the findings from the 2022 Summative Evaluation Report.


Health & Place is an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the study of the role of place in understanding health and health care. Known for featuring innovative methodologies and theories underpinning the study of health, the journal was an ideal platform to discuss the Healthy Families NZ initiative.


“After a decade of addressing the underlying conditions that impact health and wellbeing, there is a wealth of learnings and evidence that can be shared locally, nationally and internationally and it is welcoming to see the evaluation team from Victoria University of Wellington being part of the storytelling and sharing” says Lucy Kingsbeer, Principal Service Development Manager – Healthy Families NZ.


Healthy Families NZ has always held a unique position in the prevention system. We recognise health is not equitable and is significantly informed by the social determinants of health and the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play.


The practice and multi-level action across the workforce has continually evolved whilst looking at ways to innovate and adapt. Regular reflective practice alongside a national evaluation have been critical factors in guiding and enabling the movement to grow and be responsive to local needs.


The article touches on systems thinking in practice and the roles that the Healthy Families NZ location teams have been playing within their communities. It describes the influence of indigenous knowledge, prioritising equity as business as usual, the importance of weaving together lived experience alongside formal evidence, and opportunities and challenges in building a uniquely skilled workforce.


We would like to acknowledge Anna Matheson, Nan Wehipeihana, and other contributors for their efforts in sharing their expert knowledge on the learnings and successes of Healthy Families NZ with the world, through this article.


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