Professional credentialing for health educators in Australia

Christopher Rissel, Trevor Shilton, Marilyn Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The situation of health educators in Australia is described and credentialing issues discussed in this context. The dynamic growth of health promotion as a specific field of practice has meant that there is an unresolved and continuing debate about the pros and cons of credentialing. The climate created by the rhetoric of health promotion in Australia, including the emphasis on reducing unjust inequalities in health status, is such that credentialing a specialist health promotion workforce at this time may be premature and requires further research and debate. Ultimately, credentialing may be necessary for the long-term interests of the health promotion movement in Australia. In Australia and internationally, there has been growing recognition that positive gains in health status within countries have not been shared equally among their populations. Having identified unjust inequalities in health status, increasing numbers of countries have begun to plan to reduce these. Developing understanding of the potential preventability of many health problems and causes of death has contributed to increased demand for more effective health education and health promotion. An important component of effective health promotion is a skilled, competent workforce. The move toward professional credentialing for health educators in the United States has recognized the skills and levels of competence required by health educators in the diverse settings in which they work. Parallel developments in many countries suggest that health promotion (as a specific field of knowledge and skill) has reached the point where it might be conceived of as a social movement (Stevenson & Burke, 1992). Australia has shared in the development of health promotion ideology and practice, and its health educators are currently addressing issues of professionalism, standards of competence, and career development. Increasing numbers of diverse professionals and community members are using the language of prevention and health promotion. However, there is often limited common understanding of the terms and conflicting views as to what constitutes effective health promotion practice. This article describes the situation of health educators in Australia and discusses issues of credentialing in that context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-157
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Health Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 1995
Externally publishedYes


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