Health Literacy is about how well people can access, understand and act on health information and services.

We know that about 60% of Australians have a low level of health literacy. This means they have more chance of:

  • Having worse health and quality of life overall
  • Paying more for health care
  • Being unhappy with the health care they receive
  • Going to hospital more

Some things you can do to improve your health literacy are:

  • Making sure you use reliable sources of health information.
  • Keeping your medications and information about your health organised and up to date.
  • Taking friends or family as support to appointments.
  • Asking what other services are available to help you.
  • Asking questions when you are not sure about something.
  • Participating in making decisions about your health to get the right care for you.
  • Giving feedback to health services.

Our health services can do a lot to improve health literacy. Health professionals can improve the way they communicate, and our health services can improve how they are set up so they are easier to navigate.

Having good health literacy means people can:

  • Find the right services and doctors
  • Manage their own long term health conditions
  • Get to the places and appointments they need
  • Take medicine the right way
  • Fill out health forms correctly
  • Share their medical history with their health care team
  • Keep up a healthy lifestyle
  • Follow advice about how to look after their own health

We are working in partnership with Health North Coast to deliver the Northern NSW Health Literacy Project. This project is working to improve our local health communication and information.