What things affect our health?

Factors which impact on our health

Some of the factors that impact the health of people in our region are shown below

We frequently use a standardised method of summarising a number of social and economic factors, called Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) scores. SEIFA scores are a measure of advantage and disadvantage compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Census variables used to calculate the SEIFA indexes cover a number of domains and include household income, education, employment, occupation, housing and other indicators of advantage and disadvantage.

The SEIFA Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD) by LGA in the HNECC region ranges from the most disadvantaged at 914 (Greater Taree LGA) to the least disadvantaged at 1013 (Singleton LGA).

Community strengths - voluntary work

Voluntary work is one measure of community strength, which gives an indication of how people feel about the community they live in. In 2011, 17.5% of the HNECC population participated in voluntary work compared to 16.9% of the NSW population. The highest rates of participation were in Walcha (31.7%), Gwydir (31.1%) and Uralla (29.4%). The lowest participation rates were in Cessnock (12.5%), Wyong (13.7%) and Maitland (14.8%).

Health and lifestyle risk factors

The lifestyle we choose may place us at risk of poor health outcomes and the development of diseases. Smoking, high risk alcohol consumption and excess weight are major risk factors for death and disease in Australia. Some of the risk factors for people in the HNECC region are shown in the infographic below.

Rates of people with at least one of four health risk factors (smoking, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and obesity) are highest in Tenterfield, Glen Innes Severn, Guyra and Cessnock. In contrast, people with the lowest rates of lifestyle risk factors were found in Gosford, Lake Macquarie, Singleton and Armidale Dumaresq Local Government Areas.

* A person who is considered to be overweight has a BMI (body mass index) of 25 to less than 30, and a person who is classified as obese has a BMI of 30 or greater.

Access to services

Accessible health services are those that are conveniently located, affordable, appropriate and acceptable. Health services can be inaccessible if providers do not acknowledge and respect cultural factors, physical barriers and economic barriers, or if the community is not aware of available services.

In our region, we found:

  • 30% of adults could not access their preferred GP in the preceding 12 months (compared to all Australia 29.1%)
  • 3% of adults did not see or delayed seeing a GP due to cost in the preceding 12 months (compared to all Australia 5.6%)
  • Limited transport is a significant barrier to accessing health services, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for older people and for those living in rural areas
  • General Practitioners, dentists and allied health providers are not spread evenly across the region, with fewer health professionals per person in some of our rural areas


More information

More information about this and other population health topics is available on our Resources page. 

Links to other information from some of our key data sources can be found on the Other information about health in our region page.

For any other information or enquiries please contact the Health Planning and Performance Team by email: healthplanning@hneccphn.com.au  

More information

For more information about the people in our region and their health, see the HNECC PHN Health Planning Compass