Prevalence and characteristics of advocacy curricula in Australian public health degrees

Bhatti AJ, Lin S, Post D, Baldock K, Dawes N. Health Promot J Austr. 2022; Online; doi:

Public health graduates are expected to have knowledge and skills in advocacy, with Australian and international competency frameworks indicating advocacy curriculum should be included in all degrees1-3. Despite this, knowledge of the extent to which students are taught public health advocacy is limited.

We carried out an audit of public health advocacy education within Australian undergraduate and postgraduate public health degrees. Open-source unit guides were reviewed to determine if advocacy was included within core curriculum, electives or not at all (in title, unit description, or learning outcome). This was supplemented with surveys of degree directors and unit convenors.

We found that advocacy curricula are not routinely included within public health training. Only two thirds of all identified undergraduate and postgraduate degrees included advocacy as part of core training, and approximately 20% of degrees offered no identifiable advocacy curriculum.

If advocacy is not routinely delivered within core training, there is a likelihood that some graduates may not be adequately trained in advocacy to meet workforce needs. Because advocacy efforts can lead to healthier public policies and positive impacts on society, a trained and skilled public health workforce that engages with public health advocacy is required to be able to address current and emerging population health challenges.

Our findings support the need to advance public health teaching efforts. A focus on ensuring advocacy is included within core training will ensure students graduate with foundational advocacy competencies.


  1. Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australasia. Foundation Competencies for Public Health Graduates in Australia. 2nd Edition. 2016. Available from:
  2. Public Health Agency of Canada. Core Competencies for Public Health in Canada, Release 1.0. 2007. Available from:
  3. Public Health England. Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework. London. 2016. Available from: