Health Equity Research and Development Unit (HERDU)

Health Equity

There is growing recognition that some inequalities in health and in access to health care are systematic, avoidable and have been judged to be unfair – that is, inequitable. Access and equity are core values of the NSW Health system that drive a commitment to health for all in the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD). HERDU is a unit of Population Health in SLHD and a research hub of the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at UNSW Australia that aims to improve the health of groups of people and places that are most at risk.

Following are HERDU staff list:

Fiona Haigh - Director 

Elizabeth Harris - Senior Advisor Equity for SLHD

Is equity an issue in SLHD?

Sydney Local Health District Equity Framework

The SLHD Equity Framework is our resource which highlights the evidence base for how to address equity and includes examples of the work we are currently doing in this area. This will provide a foundation for identifying inequity in health and healthcare and taking action to reduce it, being clear about our values, building on existing good work and further understanding what health services can do in addressing inequities. We know that inequities are not inevitable, and we are serious about reducing or preventing them. This resource has been developed in consultation with our community on how we can strive to reduce inequities in health and health services. We believe that health services have an important role in improving health literacy and ensuring people have access to the resources they need for good health. For this reason we are developing an active approach to addressing health inequity in the SLHD.


Please find enclosed a copy of the SLHD Equity Framework OR via this link


The five key areas where we are looking to strengthen our action on health inequities includes:


  1. Leadership and commitment – making equity a priority for the District and part of the reporting systems and quality improvement activities;
  2. Engagement and partnership – involving marginalised communities in decisions about their health and working in partnership with communities to address problems in health equity;
  3. Organisation and workforce development – providing training and information on other forms of support to help the workforce identify and address inequities;
  4. Resource allocation – targeting resources to address inequities; and
  5. Research and evaluation – using data and evidence to inform decision making and undertaking research and evaluation on how best to reduce inequities in the District.

What we do?

HERDU aims to work with SLHD staff, partners and with communities to identify health inequities and improve the health of groups of people who do not have opportunities to receive the health care and resources they need to be as healthy as others in the population.

There are four strategic directions to our work:-

Re-orienting local health services, policies and plans towards improving health equity

We do this using data and tools to build skills, knowledge and capacity, such as:

Equity Focused Health Impact Assessments (EFHIAs)

Health Impact Assessments (HIA): Green Square Urban Renewal Area

Contributing to new Models of Care & building equity into local policies
Working with government, non-government, private and community organisations to address the determinants of health inequity
Conducting high quality research to describe health inequities, translate evidence into practice, and evaluate the impact of interventions, policies and programs on health equity
  • The 45 & Up study: Primary and Community Health Cohort
  • Hospital in the Home in Sydney Local Health District
  • Universal Health Home Visiting
  • Healthy Homes and neighbourhoods
  • Reasons for attendance at Canterbury ED for new migrant parents
Building organisational capacity to address equity

To achieve this HERDU aims to engage the leadership and staff of SLHD and to work in partnership with local organisations including the Primary Health Network.  It also aims to build its own infrastructure of qualified and experienced staff and to collaborate with other research organisations to provide leadership in health equity research at national and international levels.