Australian Public Health Conference 2023

On 28 September 2023 Hub researcher Dr Emily Flies will be speaking at the Australian Public Health Conference 2023 about some of her Hub research.

She will talk about some of the Hub's nature-based solutions for sustainable healthcare and communities she is leading with other researchers.

Event website and registration

Emily co-leads the Hub's Impact Priority 1 research theme - Sustainable people-environment interactions. This theme explore the liveability, sustainability and ecology of urban and regional communities to support policy, planning, design, and management to deliver ecological (e.g. biodiversity conservation), economic (e.g. green jobs), and social (e.g. health and well-being) benefits, and also enhance urban liveability, sustainability, and resilience.

See Impact Priority 1 research theme​​​​

Below is an extract from Emily's abstract for the conference.

Nature is the best medicine

For millennia, humanity has recognized the healing power of nature. Whether we are actively recreating outdoors, or quietly admiring the view from a window, connecting with nature improves our quality of life. Research has provided evidence for the mechanisms through which nature supports the many dimensions of our wellbeing (e.g. physical, mental, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual wellbeing). But the integration of this knowledge into healthcare and society in Western countries is lagging.

The concepts of ‘planetary health’ and ‘one health’ provide evidence-based frameworks for the interlinkages between the wellbeing of people and planet. Worryingly then is the conclusion from the most recent State of the Environment Report: ‘the state and trend of the environments of Australia are poor and deteriorating’ which is negatively impacting the wellbeing of Australians. Along with under-funding, and poor enforcement of existing legal protections, a societal lack of knowledge of and appreciation for nature contribute to these poor environmental outcomes.

As a possible antidote, the emerging concept of ‘nature-based solutions’ refers to actions that simultaneously provide benefits for human well-being, ecosystem services and resilience and biodiversity. Taking a nature-based solutions lens to our healthcare system is a way to operationalise planetary health; it has the potential to create wellbeing benefits for people, and improve the sustainability of healthcare in Australia.

In this presentation, I outline three initiatives integrating research and practice to explore nature-based solutions for sustainable healthcare in Australia:

1) The benefits of nature connection for people and planet (part of the National Environmental Science Program’s Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub)

2) Outdoor mental healthcare (an emerging partnership between academics, Outdoor Health Australia and local mental health clinics)

3) The Healthy Environments and Lives Communities of Practice (funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council)

By sharing these three pathways to nature-based solutions for healthcare in Australia, I hope to provide information and inspiration for how we can make our healthcare system, our people and our places in Australia healthier and more resilient.