Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Public Health advocacy involves individuals and organisations who operate locally, regionally, nationally and globally to address policies, products and practices that compromise people's health. Advocacy is a critical skill for all practitioners to effectively promote and protect population health and well being. Advocacy is often needed to transform research into policy and practice. This unit aims to enable students to refine their communication skills by building their knowledge of the I 'art of advocacy' and the various ways this can be used to influence decisions and outcomes to improve health. Students will examine various facets of advocacy, including: approaches to advocacy; persuasiveness, rhetoric, method, audience, presentation and evaluation; nested advocacy within larger approaches; challenging existing values or practices. Students will then consider the various factors that underpin effective, valid and appropriate advocacy, such as: community engagement, consultation and empowerment; community/organisational relationships; and respectful communication methods. In considering health advocacy in a global context, this unit will also include cultural responsiveness and cross-cultural communication. Finally, this unit will apply critical analysis to advocacy 'tools' (existing or emergent) such as social marketing, new media approaches, focused health campaigns, fundraising, celebrity advocacy and competitive advocacy in health.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate specialised knowledge of effective design, implementation, and evaluation of health advocacy programs (GA5) 

LO2 - Assess health issues and articulate appropriate public health advocacy strategies in response (GA1, GA2, GA6) 

LO3 - Critically evaluate existing health advocacy strategies, particularly in terms of their method, strengths and limitations, and outcomes (GA4, GA6, GA8) 

LO4 - Create an advocacy strategy designed to influence a particular decision-making process that takes into account relevant community, stakeholder and audience considerations (GA3, GA7, GA9, GA10) 

LO5 - Adapt health advocacy strategies for use with both conventional and emerging communication platforms, balancing overall consistency of purpose with tailored delivery to different audiences (GA7, GA8, GA10) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Health advocacy 

  • Definitions and key concepts applied to advocacy 
  • Roles, scope and levels of advocacy in health: patient advocate, public health advocate 
  • Other advocacy in health and community services: e.g. guardianship and administration systems 
  • Range of advocacy: single vs multiple issues, people, communities, countries 
  • Contextual factors: social, cultural, political, economic and other 
  • Importance of advocacy for global health and relationship to Sustainable Development Goals 


Advocacy, community and culture 

  • Community consultation and consent 
  • Methods of community engagement, consultation 
  • Community controlled health campaigns; top-down vs bottom-up approaches 
  • Cultural responsiveness and advocacy, cross cultural advocacy  
  • Advocacy as paternalism; advocacy as empowerment 


Advocacy method 

  • Advocacy approaches and issue appraisal 
  • Advocacy when challenging: influencing change in existing/entrenched values or practices in health 
  • Advocacy tools: persuasiveness and the art of rhetoric, presentation and refinement of issues 
  • Nested advocacy: place within larger campaigns or programs 
  • Communication strategies, audience considerations 
  • Evaluating impact of advocacy strategies 


Applied advocacy in health 

  • Case studies of successful or unsuccessful advocacy in health 
  • New advocacy tools: social marketing, new media; combination with other approaches 
  • Advocacy landscape: large scale health campaigns and multi-pronged approaches  
  • Advocacy, advertising or lobbying: celebrity advocacy vs endorsement vs sponsorship; grass-roots vs astro-turf organizations 
  • Competitive advocacy in health: landscape of health issues, their campaigns and advocacy efforts 
  • Advocacy in relation to fundraising/philanthropic approaches 
  • Advocacy and audience: incorporating audience through new media; criticisms of effectiveness  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

PUBH643 is offered in both multi-mode and online mode. 



In multi-mode, this unit is delivered primarily via face-to-face sessions on campus (e.g. lectures, workshops, seminars). The unit uses an active learning approach where activities support students to acquire essential theoretical knowledge of health advocacy. Online content via the ACU Learning Environment Online (LEO) also supports this acquisition. Seminars/workshops are designed to allow students the opportunity to apply lecture content to particular public health contexts and scenarios, and progressively develop higher level skills of effective application of advocacy approaches. 


Online mode  

In online mode, students acquire essential theoretical knowledge in health advocacy via a series of asynchronous online lessons which include: recorded lecture content, online readings, online discussion forums and self-directed learning modules. Students are given the opportunity to attend facilitated synchronous online tutorial classes (eg, via virtual classroom via Adobe Connect) to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge with other students so as to develop the higher level skills of effective application of advocacy approaches. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Please note assessment is the same for students undertaking either multi-mode or online mode. 

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks and obtain an aggregate mark of greater than 50%. 

PUBH643 assessments are designed to enable students to progressively develop their knowledge of health advocacy through first critique of existing strategies, and then through development of a health advocacy strategy for a contemporary health issue. In order to develop the knowledge and skills required to achieve the learning outcomes and Graduate Attributes, students first demonstrate their knowledge by preparing a critique of a health advocacy strategy with reference to global political priorities. Students then build on this analysis during the second assessment, where they are required to design a health advocacy strategy (including rationale, purpose, background and associated materials) on a contemporary health issue.   

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1:  

Written assignment: Global health advocacy and political priority  


1, 2, 3 

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8 

Assessment 2: 

Written assignment: Health advocacy strategy  


1, 2, 4, 5 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Brown, P. & Zavestoski, S. (2004). Social movements in health: an introduction Sociology of Health and Illness 26(6) 679-694 doi: 10.1111/j.0141-9889.2004.00413.x

Carlisle, S. (2000). Health promotion, advocacy and health inequalities: a conceptual framework. Health Promotion International 15(4): 369-376 doi: 

Chapman, S. (2007). Public health advocacy and tobacco control : making smoking history. Oxford; Malden, MA, Blackwell Pub [ACU ebook]

Jansson, B.S. (2011). Improving healthcare through advocacy: a guide for the health and helping professions. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons 

Kirmayer, L. (2012). Rethinking cultural competence. Transcultural Psychiatry, 49(2), 149-164. doi: 10.1177/1363461512444673

Lustig, S. (2012). Advocacy Strategies for Health and Mental Health Professionals: From Patients to policies. New York: Springer Publishing Company [ACU ebook]

National Health and Medicine Research Council (NHMRC). (2006). Cultural Competency in Health. A guide for policy, partnerships and participation Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia Retrieved from

Rossolatos, G. (2015) The Ice-Bucket Challenge: The Legitimacy of the Memetic Mode of Cultural Reproduction Is the Message. Signs and Society, 3(1), 132-152. doi: 10.1086/679520

Sen, R. (2003). Stir it up: lessons in community organizing and advocacy San Franciso CA: Jossey-Bass Electronic version downloadable from: 

Zoller, H. M. (2005). Health Activism: Communication Theory and Action for Social Change Communication Theory 15(4): 341-364 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2005.tb00339.x

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