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Community health workers use specific cultural or community knowledge, and strong networks within their own communities to promote health.

Community health workers are often leaders in their own communities and act as a key link between specialist health knowledge and theory, and the needs of communities. As 'interpreters' of this knowledge, their role is a critical one.

They make public health messages and actions meaningful to those who often are not reached by mainstream and commercial messages.

The work involves action in a wide range of health issues, such as alcohol, social environments, tobacco control and oral health.


  • Advise other professionals about language issues and the need for cultural sensitivity
  • Arrange a community meeting to address the issue of young people involved in drug taking
  • Demonstrate low-fat cooking methods to whānau and ringawera / kitchen workers or cooks
  • Provide support to family and whānau dealing with social services
  • Work to set up a child car-seat scheme

Who employs community health workers?

  • A wide range of other organisations
  • District health boards
  • Iwi providers
  • Māori organisations
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Pacific, Asian, and new migrant agencies

The more community health workers formalise their qualifications and training, the greater likelihood that they will evolve into an even more critical workforce within public health.

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