Mobilising cross-sectoral action is helpful in addressing the range of social determinants that contribute to health inequities. The South Australian Health in All Policies (SA HiAP) approach was implemented from 2007 to stimulate cross-sector policy activity to address the social determinants of health to improve population wellbeing and reduce health inequities. This paper presents selected findings from a five year multi-methods research study of the SA HiAP approach and draws on data collected during interviews, observation, case studies, and document analysis. The analysis shows that SA HiAP had dual goals of facilitating joined-up government for co-benefits (process focus); and addressing social determinants of health and inequities through cross-sectoral policy activity (outcomes focus). Government agencies readily understood HiAP as providing tools for improving the process of intersectoral policy development, while the more distal outcome-focused intent of improving equity was not well understood and gained less traction. While some early rhetorical support existed for progressing an equity agenda through SA HiAP, subsequent economic pressures resulted in the government narrowing its priorities to economic goals. The paper concludes that SA HiAP’s initial intentions to address equity were only partially enacted and little was done to reduce inequities. Emerging opportunities in SA, and internationally, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals, may revive interest in addressing equity.
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