Supportive environments is both a principle of social justice and one of the five action areas of the Ottawa Charter (see here). Any health promotion initiative then uses this social justice principal as it creates supportive environments to promote health. Remember, supportive environments includes the physical, social and online environments, and seeks to create the environment in such a way that the healthier choice is the easier choice.
An example of a health promotion that uses this social justice principle is the National Road Safety Strategy. There have been many changes made in Australia in order to promote safety on our roads, and a number of them focus on creating supportive environments that promote road safety. For example, the introduction of speed cameras has helped to reduce our road toll and accidents in specific “black spots” on our roads. The introduction of 50Km/h suburban speed limits, the introduction of mandatory 3 point seat belts and other safety features, such as driver airbags, have also helped to create a supportive environment to promote road safety.
Other examples of supportive environments in action include a large number of council and town planning regulations. The inclusion of local parks and reserves in town planning provides locations for people to get outdoors and encourages participation in physical activity. Being outdoors, also benefits our mental and social health, as people gather at parks together and simply going out into the sunshine and nature helps to reduce our stress levels.
Supportive environments are also seen in schools, where the National Healthy Schools Canteen Project helps to make it easier for students to select healthy food options at school. In addition to this, WHS regulations help to make schools safer. Schools also have their own policies that seek to provide a safe social (no bullying) environment. Schools provide outdoor areas and breaks to help ensure the mental and social health of their students and often engage in welfare promotion through home groups or similar programs.
In addition to this, we are frequently exposed to advertisements that seek to create an environment that encourages us to seek health. the Swap it Don’t Stop it campaign, the Don’t Drink and Drive advertisements, the Nothing is Healthy About a Tan commercials and much more seek to promote a social culture that promotes and values health, thus creating a supportive environment for health promotion.