Non-government organisations are non-profit organisations that focus on specific issues. These issues can be health related or concern social justice. In Australia there are both international non-government organisations and national organisations involved in health promotion. Often the role of the non-government organisation is to conduct research, provide support and produce media campaigns.
Many non-government organisations conduct research into a particular chronic disease or illness. For example, the National Stroke Foundation conduct research into the economic impact of stroke, provide grants for research into stroke and propose studies to be conducted at universities to further our understanding of stroke and how to prevent it.
The research conducted by non-government organisations often revolves around a single issue and look at the cause of the disease, ways to prevent the disease, assess epidemiology around the disease – including morbidity, mortality, survival rates, health expenditure – and provide information to government sectors often with proposed actions to be taken to help improve outcomes for their particular issue.
Non-government organisation provide support to those suffering from particular diseases or groups with social inequities. This support can come in the provision of a network of people who can provide practical support and a sympathetic ear to listen to the issues. They can also provide information about the regular interventions for particular diseases and help people to prepare for what is ahead as well as supporting them through their current situation. Non-government organisations will also provide support to schools in the education of students about particular diseases or issues. Providing education packages and resources for free. Non-government organisations also support the government in addressing the issue they are concerned with (both health and social justice).
For example, the Cancer Council provide information to cancer patients along with support networks and services. Such services include, access to counselling services, assistance with practical matters and accommodation. They also provide online education, and education packages for schools, such as the “Eat it to Beat it” school program. They also provide research and statistical analysis to the government to help them approach cancer prevention and health promotion most effectively.
Non-governemtn organisations often are responsible for raising awareness around particular health issues and social justice. This awareness often comes with particular days, such as Jump Rope for Heart (Heart Foundation), Pink Ribbon day (Cancer Council), or Walk to Work day (Diabetes Australia). However, non-government organisations are also responsible for the production of many media campaigns to educate the public and raise awareness for health issues.
For example, Beyond Blue have produces TV commercials to promote awareness around depression and the mental health issues.
Beyond Blue also promote mental health through social media, media releases, connecting media with people who have stories to tell concerning mental health issues and providing guidelines for media coverage of mental health issues.
Non-Gouvernement organisations fulfil many roles, but particularly research, support and media campaigns, with a responsibility to the people they help, the government and our wider society.