School health polices and practices in Victoria – a comparison involving socio-economic status and school geographical location

St, Leger L and Maher, S and Ridge, Damien T. and Marshall, B and Sheehan, M and Gibbons, C (2002) School health polices and practices in Victoria – a comparison involving socio-economic status and school geographical location. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 13 (3). pp. 201-204. ISSN 1036-1073

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Issue addressed: Health programs have been part of the responsibility of Victorian school education for 90 years. Yet rarely have there been studies to identify what is happening in school health promotion, or what the differences between schools might be, particularly in relation to the socioeconomic status of the school community and whether the school is in a metropolitan or regional area. Methods: In 1997 all Victorian schools (primary and secondary) in the State, Catholic and Independent systems were sent questionnaires in order to promote broader awareness about health promotion, and to identify what health programs, policies and activities the schools believed existed within their school community. A response rate of 43% was achieved, and results were collated under the six domains of the Health Promoting School model as outlined by the Western Pacific Regional Office of the World Health Organisation. Data analysed in this paper compared highest versus lowest quartiles for socioeconomic status (SES), and schools in metropolitan Melbourne versus regional areas. Results: Most differences between schools based on socioeconomic status occurred in secondary schools and were related mainly to environmental policies and practices, use of back packs, the presence of safety policies, involvement of parents in school activities and the provision of services for mental and social health needs. All differences were in favour of the highest SES quartile schools. Environmental policies and procedures, and school-based health and welfare services were present more often in metropolitan schools than in regional and rural schools. Conclusion: Although there were notable differences between schools, the audit results pointed to more similarities than differences between schools in the highest and lowest SES quartiles for health-related policies and practices; there were even fewer differences between metropolitan and non-metropolitan schools. So what: Regardless of the actual advantages and disadvantages schools experience with respect to location or socioeconomic status, it is important to understand that school staff perceive that they can and do have reasonably comprehensive health policies, procedures and practices to address health issues. Nevertheless, clear differences between schools did emerge in certain health areas and findings will assist policy making and the allocation of limited resources.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: University of Westminster > Science and Technology
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Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2009 15:04
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 09:48

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