Professional Development & Capacity Building

Project Overview


Building the capacity of health practitioners, researchers, community members and agencies to do advocacy and impact policy is PHAIWA core business.

We have a suite of capacity building activities provide tools, resources and skill based professional development opportunities to organisations and individuals to improve their ability to achieve effective health promotion and public health advocacy.

PHAIWA Advocacy e-Mentoring Program

PHAIWA established the Advocacy e-Mentoring program in November 2011. The program aims to promote and transfer advocacy skills to public and allied health professionals in WA. PHAIWA is keen to develop and nurture the expertise of individuals and groups working within health promotion, public health and sectors external to health, to ensure that high quality, innovative and effective advocacy leadership continues in WA.

We acknowledge that younger or less experienced health professionals may not get the chance to put advocacy skills into practice until opportunities arise in their role. Advocacy can also be quite confronting, for example being in front of a TV camera, or developing a press release, let alone meeting with politicians! Our mentoring program can help you access these advocacy skills and increase your confidence.

The program is open to anyone working in public health, health promotion, health research or allied health. We also welcome applications from emerging leaders outside the health sector, if their work has some interest in health and wellbeing. Your geographic location will not be a barrier as the majority of communication and support will be done electronically or via telephone.

PHAIWA strongly encourages expressions of interest from:

  • Indigenous people;
  • People working with vulnerable population groups; and
  • Those working in rural and remote areas.

The 2020 – 2021 program commenced in July and will run for nine months.

 If you are interested in being involved in future programs please contact

Recommended reading

Recommended reading: Planning for the next generation of public health advocates: evaluation of an online advocacy mentoring program. Emily O’Connell, Melissa Stoneham and Julie Saunders. Public health advocacy is critical to achieve public health objectives. This paper reports the qualitative evaluation of an online e-mentoring program that combined skill-based activities with mentoring from an experienced public health advocate to build the advocacy capacity of a group of public health professionals.

The Advocacy e-Mentoring program is funded by Healthway.

Advocacy Short Course

PHAIWA ran its second Advocacy Short Course 12-18 March 2018. The five day intensive course was attended by 18 eager advocates, with an additional 21 attending on the Thursday which was titled ‘We don’t want alcohol in sport but…’

The 18 course participants learnt about public health advocacy theory from the PHAIWA team and heard fantastic case studies from keynote presenters Michael Moore, Michael Thorn, Professor Mike Daube, Jane Martin and Jim Dodds plus had a full day of media training with Liz Chester.

On the final day Mayor Howlett and Josh Wilson joined Michael Moore for a political panel which they all gave some good tips about working with all levels of government. 

Attendees learnt how plan for advocacy using a framework with guidance from all the presenters. Be prepared … we definitely have 18 new advocates on the loose!

The Thursday was a fantastic day focused on sports sponsorship. Christina Matthews, Matthew Pavlich and Gary Walton joined our fantastic line up of speakers for a Q&A panel. Throughout the day participants workshopped strategies for removing unhealthy sponsorship in sport.

To finish the day all attendees took part in a round robin networking event with Minister Cook, Gino Marinucci, Mayor Pettitt plus the keynote presenters.

This was a unique opportunity to ask questions of those working in politics and engage further in discussion with the keynote presenters.

Read about the inaugural 2014 Short Course below:

It was an ‘advocacy’ action packed five days for PHAIWA and our 30 fabulous participants, with some even travelling from Kalgoorlie, Albany, Melbourne, Wollongong, Townsville and Darwin! Throughout the week, participants gained a grounding in a broad range of advocacy strategies through a combination of practical activities and case studies presented by an outstanding calibre of guest speakers including:

  • Hon Nicola Roxon, Adjunct Professor Victoria University, and Former Federal Minister for Health & Attorney‐General of Australia;
  • Michael Moore, CEO Public Health Association of Australia;
  • Roger Cooke MLA, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Health & Science, and Member for Kwinana;
  • Professor Bryant Stokes, Acting Director General Department of Health WA;
  • Dr Brad Pettitt, City of Fremantle Mayor;
  • Steve Harris, CEO of The Brand Agency, Chair of the Fremantle Football Club;
  • Melissa Sweet, Health Journalist & Croakey Editor;
  • Liz Chester, Director of Communications & Development, Telethon Kids Institute;
  • Samantha Menezes, Community advocate, Secondary supply legislation; and
  • Professor Mike Daube and the PHAIWA team.

A highlight of the course was the opportunity for participants to network with invited politicians (past and present) at a dinner function on the Thursday night.

Feedback from participants has reflected on their appreciation to PHAIWA for providing such a unique experience, with all participants commenting they have gained a greater understanding of advocacy due to the varied and diverse course content, and are now aware of how they can put ‘advocacy in action’ once they return to their organisations.

The Advocacy Short Course is funded by Healthway.

Advocacy 101 and 202 Workshops

Advocacy 101 is a one day course is designed to give attendees an overview of public health advocacy, learn about advocacy strategies, and participate in some practical activities.

This course is ideal for those starting to use advocacy and/or have limited knowledge of advocacy. Relevant case studies and examples are sourced depending on the target audience.

Advocacy 202 is a two day intensive workshop is designed for attendees to develop an advocacy plan for their chosen issue.

The workshop allows plenty of time for attendees to workshop advocacy strategies and walk away will a completed plan. The workshop capacity is 20-25 people.

Please note: Advocacy 101 is a pre-requisite for Advocacy 202 unless the attendee has sufficient knowledge and/or experience in advocacy.

    Are you interested?

    PHAIWA coordinates a number of these workshops throughout the year.

    If you would like a workshop for your organisation or stakeholders please contact
    (08) 9266 1544.

    Opinion Piece Seminars

    The Opinion Pieces Series features emerging public health practitioners who are ideally placed to contribute to the debate around the future of public health, policy and advocacy.

    These Opinion Piece Seminars provide a greater diversity of perspectives and ideas, from people who often do not have the opportunity to be heard.

    Below are the topics of each Opinion Piece held to date:

    • Are public health conferences health enough?
    • We know reality TV is a popular style of entertainment and there are many shows that aim to address health. Megan Upchurch and Carl Heslop pitched the audience a concept for a reality TV show that promotes public health.
    • ‘We often hear people say that health is a personal responsibility. But is it more than that?’. Presented by Laura Hunter, Marc Zen and Hazel Leong.
    • ‘Making an impact on ‘Screenagers’ – How can health promotion grab the attention of Gen Z?’ Presented by Rachel Murray, Peter Martin and Sarah Di Cristofaro.
    • ‘Should public health involve industry in health‐promoting policies, programs & initiatives? If yes, what areas of industry should be involved?’. Presented by Michael Clow, Ashleigh Doig and Hannah Pierce.
    • ‘Is the Ottawa Charter still useful for health promotion professionals in 2014?’. Presented by Tom Shalders, Jemma Snow and Lorena Chapman.
    • ‘Imagine Perth in 2033…what key actions do you think have happened outside of the health sector to promote wellbeing in WA?’. Presented by Toyah Tinworth, Catherine Walker and Simon Pham
    • ‘How is marketing contributing to the obesity epidemic?’. Presented by Jodie Hurd, Jake Johnson and Sokunthea Kruy.
    • ‘What are your policies for the 2013 State Election?’. Presented by Hannah Gray, Asha Singh and James Stevens‐Cutler.
    • ‘How does the long term view for public health fit with the Gen Y generation?’. Presented by Emma–Lee Finch, Prue Reddingius and Lauren Tracey.
    • ‘Health and the environment ‐ the green, brown and built environment agendas’. Presented by Piers Verstegen, Michelle O’Brien and Anna Pardini.
    • ‘What do you think is the biggest challenge for global public health over the next 50 years?’. Presented by Henry Tan, Kelly Kennington and Amberlee Laws.
    • ‘Early Career Investment — what do we need from our managers?’. Presented by Julia Stafford, Leanne Gledich, Victoria Van and Peta Turner.
    • ‘Principles, values and beliefs of public health – how can they be more visible and persuasive with the public, politicians and decision makers’. Presented by Jonathan Hallett, Leesa Tapping, Eleanor Costello and Emma Croager.

    Yellow Brick Road

    PHAIWA believes there are many inspiring and dedicated people whose efforts are often overlooked or left unnoticed. These seminars highlight the professional backgrounds and journeys of individuals who have helped to advance public health objectives, and how advocacy has assisted their careers.

    So why the Yellow Brick Road?

    As you know the YBR is a central theme in The Wizard of Oz – which was written in 1900 and first screened in 1939. According to film historians, the Yellow Brick Road is very bright, very broad, but not straight. It curves and wanders over hills and mountains.  It’s polished and smooth except in a few places where bricks have broken or are missing, and in other cases the Yellow Brick Road weaves through dark and abandoned forests in Oz leaving potholes, dead ends and cliff edges.

    There are many theories about what the movie actually symbolises. However, after much surfing, we discovered that most writers, critics and bloggers think that the movie’s key message is about discovering how to have faith in yourself and your ability to handle life’s complexities.  As the movie shows, from time to time as you follow the Yellow Brick Road, you just may get lost in the woods and it is the capabilities offered by the three central characters – the Scarecrow (wisdom), the Tin Man (sentiment) and the Cowardly Lion (bravery) – that will allow you to change direction through the knowledge gained in the process.

    This seminar series illustrates how individuals have combined these capabilities to successfully navigate a road which may be filled with difficulties and obstacles or could have been straight and wide.

    Upcoming Yellow Brick Road Seminars

    Currently no Yellow Brick Road seminars are scheduled. Sign up to e-News to keep updated on when they will occur.

    Previous presenters have been:

    • Isabel Ross:  Mental Health Promotion Coordinator, WA Country Health Service
    • Darren Armitage: Acting Director Health Promotion, Healthway
    • John Carey: Mayor, City of Vincent
    • Bernadette Kenny: General Manager North and South PHN, WA Primary Health Alliance
    • Daniel Vujcich: Senior Policy Officer, Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, WA Health
    • Maria Szybiak: Director, LiveLighter Campaign at National Heart Foundation of Australia
    • Josh Wilson: Federal Member for Fremantle
    • Gemma Crawford: President, Australian Health Promotion Association; Lecturer and Researcher, School of Public Health, Curtin University
    • David Pigram: Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer, South Metropolitan Public Health Unit
    • Jo Malcolm: Health Promotion Coordinator, Water Corporation.

    Executive Conversations

    The executive conversations series commenced in mid-2011. These roundtable discussions provide an opportunity for invited representatives from various organisations to meet with a leader in public health advocacy, often from interstate and overseas.

    Previous conversations have featured:

    • Dr Gary Fooks, Senior Lecturer Sociology and Public Policy and Co-Director of the Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture, Aston University, England; Healthway Visiting Fellow 2016.
    • Katherine, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), London;
    • The Hon Catherine King MP, Shadow Federal Minister for Health;
    • Steve McCutcheon, CEO, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ):
    • Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance & President of the Royal College of Physicians of London 2006-2010;
    • Dr Chris Reynolds, legislation specialist based in SA;
    • Obesity prevention experts Tim Lobstein and Jane Landon from the UK;
    • Dr Shelley Bowen, Senior Public Health Advisor Prevention and Population Health, Department of Health Victoria;
    • Dr Angela Pratt, former Chief of Staff to Nicola Roxon;
    • Roger Cook MLA, WA Minister for Health; and
    • Tim Marney, WA Under-Treasurer;

    Other Professional Development

    PHAIWA also coordinates and specifically tailors a number of other professional development opportunities, often done in partnership. Below is an outline of other professional development activities available:

    • Media Skills Workshop (can include TV and Radio). Presented by experienced journalists e.g. Elizabeth Chester, Debra Bishop and Andrea Burns.
    • Election Forum. PHAIWA works with a number of partners to organise a public health election forum prior to each State election. All sides of politics are invited to outline their public health policies and answer questions from the audience.
    • Consensus and Priority Setting Workshops. This workshop is designed to help an organisation and/or sector develop their top 10 priorities for their health area. This is a comprehensive process where PHAIWA works closely with the organisation and their stakeholders.
    • Visiting experts. PHAIWA has previously hosted Healthway Visiting Fellows for a number of months and also works opportunistically with other visiting experts to hold one off seminars. An example is in 2016 PHAIWA and partners held a seminar on ‘Unhealthy commodities and public health: Policy implications of links across alcohol, tobacco and ultra-processed food companies’ with Professor Jeff Collin,  Global Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh. You can view his presentation here.
    • Topic specific training. PHAIWA is able to run a number of webinars, workshops and seminars on specific topics such as Social Media, Internal Advocacy, Working with the Media, Getting Your Messages Out to Community.
    • Guest lectures. The training team is available to support Universities with advocacy related guest lectures.

    Are you interested?

    If you are interested in holding any of the professional development activities please contact

    Dorte Hansen;
    (08) 9266 1775.

    We are available to deliver training across WA, Australia and Internationally.