Health Equity Research & Development Unit (HERDU)

The Health Equity Research and Development Unit (HERDU) facilitates Sydney Local Health District's commitment developing a local health system that is committed to equitable access to quality health services for the community, as well as creating opportunities and environments that improve health.

The Health Equity Research and Development Unit facilitates engagement with agencies, organisations or individuals that have responsibility in these areas working in partnership with clinical departments as well as Community Health and Population Health in Sydney Local Health District.

Our services are based on the five domains that reflect the evidence of what is required to make progress in increasing health equity within the SLHD:

  1. Work within the local health system to:

    • Identify the need for and facilitate action to increase equity of access to optimal health care (including preventive care) within the population of the SLHD area
    • Build organisational and workforce capacity within the health sector to recognise the need for, and to take action to ensure the equitable distribution of health services, and the equitable provision of optimal healthcare.

  1. Work outside the local health system with government, non-government, private sector and community groups to:

    • Increase equitable access to opportunities and environments necessary for health
    • Increase the power of marginalised communities to participate policy making Including identifying and putting matters on the agenda of organisations in all sectors
    • Strengthen pathways to enable marginalised communities to achieve active and influential inclusion in social decision-making – in government, private sector, non-government or civil society organisations
    • Explore and pilot test effective processes/methods to actively engage communities in policy-making (for example: using deliberative democratic methods).

  2. We will undertake high quality applied research to:

    • Contribute to better understanding of the complex nature of taking effective action to reduce inequities in access to health care and other social resources, and to reduce health inequity
    • Guide the development of evidence based policies and practices to reduce the incidence of health inequity.

  1. Develop innovation in high quality teaching and learning:

    • Contribute to workforce development and community capacity to strengthen effective action across the health system, partner organisations and community to reduce health inequity.

  1. Provide leadership nationally and internationally:

    • Contribute to the development and identification of practical tools, resources, and models to assist policy makers, communities, and service managers (in the health and other sectors) to commit to and undertake effective actions to reduce health inequities.

  2. Build HERDU infrastructure:
    • HERDU will function as a unit within the Division of Population Health at SLHD and as a Research Hub of the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, UNSW Australia.

Our programs will:


  • Clear articulation of the roles staff play at different levels of the SLHD to identify, commit to, and implement action to reduce inequity
  • Consistent use of equity- focused assessment and planning tools to ensure that all policies, plans, services, and programs developed and delivered by the SLHD contribute to reducing inequity
  • Information systems  in place to allow timely identification of inequalities in the distribution of health and other social resources within the LHD and that facilitate discussion of which of these are inequitable and require action
  • Map of the distribution and reach of services and infrastructure in the SLHD to identify inequalities as a precursor to identifying when the distribution and reach are inequitable
  • Evidence that health service organisations have reoriented their policies and practices and have expanded actions to increase organisational and patients' health literacy
  • Active engagement of all levels of management and service provision within the SLHD including clinical leadership in system change and transformation
  • Commitment to reducing inequities in service delivery incorporated routinely and systematically into policy, KPIs, plans, value statements
  • Improved integration between services and programs including transfer of care.


  • Development and 'formalisation' of a limited number of intersectoral relationships in the short term establishing shared goals and opportunities for action to reduce inequities in the distribution of (and communities' access to) resources and environments necessary for good health
  • Stronger and more cohesive governance by the government, non-government and community sectors that enables them to respond effectively to provide equitable access to the programs and services necessary for the health and social needs of their populations
  • Increased equity in the representation of all communities in the governance of organisations (including the community sector, local government, etc.) within the SHLD, resulting in more socially cohesive communities
  • Increased capacity of marginalised communities to participate in community mobilisation to promote health.