The government has a very broad and multifaceted list of roles and responsibilities for health promotion in Australia. When considering the governments roles and responsibilities in health promotion it is best to break it down into three (3) levels of government: Commonwealth, state, and local (council) governments.

government levels

However it should be remembered that these roles and responsibility overlap.

Key for government responsibility tables


Commonwealth/Federal Government

The Commonwealth or Federal Government’s main role is to fund the health system through Medicare and write policies and regulations to help govern it. The government does this by collecting analysed data from various organisations, including the World Health Organisation, and then deciding on how best to act on a national scale. It’s role is essentially to direct and organise the health care system by coordinating between various groups, including the various state governments.

Some Federal Government roles and responsibilities include:

  • writing national health policies
  • producing national health campaigns
  • providing funding for various health products and services (e.g. Medicare, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme)
  • helping state government implement health promotions.

State government

State governments are responsible to help in the development of policy, however, their main role and responsibility is the implementation of health policies and the regulation of health services in their state. For example, in 2015 the NSW Ministry of Health “assumed responsibility for supporting the Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault”.

[1] As a result there has been a recent change to the 7-10 PDHPE curriculum to directly address domestic violence, and many resources have been created to address this health concern.

The NSW Ministry of Health is the ‘system manager’ for NSW Health, which coordinates 15 health districts, and “operates more than 230 public hospitals, as well as providing community health and other public health services”. NSW Health includes:

  • NSW Ambulance – responsible for providing care in emergencies.
  • Health Infrastructure  responsible for the hospital building program.
  • HealthShare NSW – “provide high-quality shared services to support the delivery of patient care within the NSW Health system.”[2]
  • NSW Health Pathology – provides pathology, forensic and analytical science services.
  • eHealth – responsible for delivering Information Communication Technology (ICT) led healthcare
  • Health Protection NSW – responsible for surveillance and response to infectious diseases.

Many of the NSW Government health priorities and strategies can be found here. The current NSW State Health Plan is multifaceted and requires the health services tow work collaboratively to achieve our health goals (a brochure of the NSW State Health Plan can be found here).

Local government

Local government is your local council. The council’s roles and responsibilities include:

  • WHS monitoring
  • waste removal (garbage & sewage)
  • amenities
  • town planning (roads, parks, etc)
  • food safety

Councils are also involved in the collection of information, running some community health groups and assessing local health needs.