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Development of the IUHPE in the South West Pacific Region

History IUHPE/South West Pacific Region


Regional Vice President: Professor Don Nutbeam
Regional Director: Marilyn Wise

The South West Pacific Region, the youngest of the IUHPE regional structures, was established in 1995 during the 16th IUHPE World Conference in Japan with the aim to invite the countries within and on the rim of the South West Pacific – more than 30 in all – to join IUHPE activities.

Under the leadership of Regional Vice-President Professor Don Nutbeam, the Regional Office was first established at the Australian Centre for Health Promotion an IUHPE institutional member with national scope, located at the University of Sydney. The Deputy Director of the Centre, Marilyn Wise, became the first Regional Director. Activities focused on getting health promotion professionals from the many small island countries involved.

The Regional Health Promotion Conference - held in Sydney in 1996 in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Health Promotion - included many participants from Pacific Island countries.

IUHPE workshops focusing on global health and health promotion were held regularly after each national Australian Health Promotion Conference starting 1996.

The South West Pacific Region put Indigenous health promotion on the agenda of the IUHPE through a series of workshops and presentations at the IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Puerto Rico in 1998.

Members from the SWP Region played major roles in writing the IUHPE Strategic Plan, in conducting international workshops aimed at identifying the organizational capacity for health promotion, and in the IUHPE/EU publication The Evidence of Health Promotion Effectiveness : Implications for Public Health Policy.


Regional Vice President: Marilyn Wise
Regional Director: Dr Rosmarie Erben

With the IUHPE elections in 1998 in connection with the 17th IUHPE World Conference in Puerto Rico, Professor Don Nutbeam was elected Global Vice President for Scientific and Technical Development leading to Marilyn Wise becoming Regional Vice-President. Dr Rosmarie. Erben, Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Public Health at Griffith University, Queensland, was appointed Regional Director. The Regional Office moved from Sydney to Brisbane, where it was hosted by the School of Public Health at Griffith University until 2004. The School provided office space, secretarial support (which included updating computer based membership/mailing lists) as well as financial support for communication.

Membership development continued to be in focus. The Australian Health Promotion Association joined IUHPE as an institutional member in 2000 and a constructive working relationship was further developed. VicHealth, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, also joined the Union, which was an important step for developing a bid for the 18th IUHPE World Conference.

The Annual AHPA Conferences continued to provide a platform for face-to face meetings of regional IUHPE members.

The membership drive in the Pacific, supported by gift subscriptions for a limited time, proved to be successful. The Regional Committee included members from Australia and New Zealand as well as from Samoa, Fiji and the Philippines,

Communication with members was facilitated until 2001 by the first IUHPE/SWP regional website, developed and hosted by Dr Eberhard Wenzel, the Deputy Head of the School of Public Health, Griffith University.

Through a working relationship established earlier with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC, IUHPE/SWP became a partner in a project culminating in a Workshop on Developing Health Promotion & Health Education Indicators in December 1998 in Noumea, New Caledonia. The project was funded by the New Zealand Government. Other participants included representatives of the Australia-South Pacific Healthy Islands Health Promotion Project (funded by AusAID), the Pacific Network of Health Promoting Schools, the Pacific Region Vector Borne Disease Project (funded by AusAID), WHO, UNICEF, and the Foundations of the Peoples of the South Pacific.

As IUHPE is a NGO in official relationship with WHO, a close working relationship was maintained with WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office. IUHPE/SWP was represented at WHO Regional Committee Meetings by its Regional Director.

Many of the new regional members participated in and presented papers at the 18th IUHPE World Conference in 2001 in Paris, which also marked the 50th anniversary of IUHPE

After the Paris Conference, the work in the Region was dominated by preparation for the 18th IUHPE World Conference to take place in Melbourne in 2004. Many of the IUHPE/SWP Regional Committee members had official functions in the organizing group. The Regional Director was responsible for structuring the Globalization/Governance Stream

This period also marked the first steps towards Indigenous involvement in regional IUHPE work. The Regional Office drafted a Resolution on Indigenous Health, which was adopted by the IUHPE General Assembly in 2004, together with two other Indigenous Resolutions brought forward by members.

2004 – 2010

Regional Vice-President 2004-2007: Michael Sparks
Regional Vice President 2007-2010: Professor Don Stewart
Regional Director: Associate Professor Dr Jan Ritchie

Following the 18th IUHPE World Conference in Melbourne, and the appointment of Dr Jan Ritchie as Regional Director, the SWP Regional Office moved to the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM) at the University of New South Wales in Sydney for the two terms 2004-2010. The School actively supported the IUHPE by providing some clerical assistance to the Regional Director for the regional teleconference meetings taking place every second month and for mail-outs to regional members as well as hosting the Virtual Library Public Health.
The WWW Virtual Library:Public Health was established by the late Dr Eberhard Wenzel in 1997 to serve as a clearing house for public health material globally. The Virtual Library was set up for public health practitioners, in the days prior to easily useable and accessible internet search tools, to allow access to an extensive data base of public health sites and resources. Dr Wenzel controlled the site until his untimely death in 2001. It came under the umbrella of the SWP Region in 2004 , when SPHCM agreed to host it as part of their commitment in supporting the SWP Regional Office. This School provided IT assistance in establishing and maintaining the site as a link within the School’s website and in funding a part-time position for selection and collation of relevant content. Within a couple of years it became the most visited link on the School’s website. By 2008, comprehensive internet search engines had become so widely available that there was no longer a need to maintain a specific web-based public health/health promotion library and SPHCM decided not to provide the link any longer. As a memorial tribute to Dr Wenzel, an inactive webpage has been retained at

The Regional Committee decided in October 2006 to establish the IUHPE Regional Working Group: Action on Indigenous Resolutions arising from the 2004 IUHPE General Assembly and entrusted Rosmarie Erben with the task to chair and develop the new structure. The Working Group drafted an Indigenous Issues Portfolio, which was discussed in 2007 at the Indigenous Health Promotion Forum, preceding the 19th IUHPE World Conference in Vancouver/Canada. After this global consultation it was revised and presented to the Board of Trustees for its Vancouver Meeting in June 2007. The document Indigenous Issues Portfolio requested different actions by the Global Vice President for Advocacy, including support for a Global Network of Indigenous health promoters and health promotion researchers.

Under the leadership of Regional Committee member Associate Professor Louise Rowling, a regional perspective was contributed to the Global Working Group on Child Mental Health.

Under the leadership of James Smith,the SWP Regional Student and Early Career Network ISECN was formed followingdevelopments atthe IUHPE World Conference in Vancouver in 2007.

The strong working relationship previously established between the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA) and IUHPE/SWP was fortified when AHPA continued to provide the venue for yearly SWP regional assemblies at their annual conferences. This culminated in the Regional Committee coordinating an international stream of proffered papers in July 2008 at the Population Health Congress in Brisbane. A second highlight of this collaboration was the Pre-Congress Satellite Workshop on Indigenous Health – Success Stories: Environmental, social, emotional & spiritual health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Other partners were the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council. The Report of the Indigenous Health Workshop, first printed in 2009, can be found at
A similar coordination role for both Indigenous and International health was undertaken at the Australian Health Promotion Conference in Perth in 2009.

The SWP Region took part in an alliance to actively lobby the Australian Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign and Affairs and Trade to remove the 13 year ban on providing foreign aid for any family planning counseling to families in less-resourced regional countries where abortion was legal. The lobbying was successful and the ban was lifted on International Women’s Day of that year.

2010 – 2013

Regional Vice-President: Professor Don Stewart
Regional Director: Dr Neil Harris

With the appointment of Dr Neil Harris as Regional Director, the Regional Office was again established at the School of Public Health, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland.

At the 20th IUHPE World Conference in 2010 in Geneva, to which SWP regional members contributed significantly, Michael Sparks was elected IUHPE President. This marked a second term of Australian presidency (Paul Hindson from Queensland was President from 1982-1985). Professor Vivian Lin was elected Global Vice President for Scientific Affairs and Trevor Shilton was elected Global Vice President for Advocacy. As such, in the 2010-2013 period, the SWP region was a key contributor to the global senior executive of the IUHPE.

In this period, the work in the SWP Region was shaped by the IUHPE governance reform under Michael Spark’s leadership. The regional structure was brought under discussion and considerations were given to a merging of the SWP with the Northern part of the West Pacific Region. Though this did not eventuate, the strengthening of collaboration between the two Regions was a tangible outcome. The Integrated IUHPE Workplan 2011-2013 shaped the SWP activities.

The Regional Working Group: Action on Indigenous Resolutions had successfully ‘launched‘ the International Network of Indigenous Health Promotion Professionals (INIHPP) which was endorsed in 2010 as a formal network of IUHPE (
The Group partnered with AHPA at its 20thNational Conference in 2011 in Cairns in organizing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workshop – “Success Stories to Close the Gap”. The focus was to bring people together to identify what makes health programs and projects successful in working towards closing the gap and to investigate how important messages might be passed on to others so that they might learn and build on that learning to enhance future programs and projects. At this occasion, the leadership of the Group was handed over to two Indigenous professionals: Dr Heather Gifford, Director of Whakauae Research Service, Whanganui, New Zealand, and Dallas McKeown, Manager of Atherton Services, Wuchopperen, Australia.

The Students and Early Career Network made efforts to be more involved in the Global ISECN and leadership of this network at the regional level was handed over to Jeannette Pastor. A paper authored by James Smith, Jeannette Pastor, Navid Fotouran, Elisha Riggs and Tania Hanzar titled Investing in the health promotion student and early career community: linking regional action to a global context was presented at the 20th National Conference of AHPA in 2011 in Cairns.

Professor Vivian Lin contributed extensively to WPRO’s health promotion leadership training and capacity building program, Prolead. SWP members were active in training or mentoring roles with participants in this and other Regional programs.

2013 -2015

Regional Vice President Sione Tu’tahi
Regional Director Dr Louise Signal