Northern NSW Health Literacy Project

The Northern NSW Health Literacy Project is guided by a Health Literacy Steering Group and the Northern NSW Health Literacy Framework.

Our Vision

Focus Areas

  1. Consumers are empowered to be health partners.
  2. The people who provide healthcare embed health literacy practice into their ways of working.
  3. Health literacy is supported by the health service environment.

Our Aims



The Northern NSW Health Literacy Project is shared by the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) and Healthy North Coast (HNC). It supports both organisations’ commitment to an integrated health system and person-centred care.

This project began in 2016 when health literacy was identified as a top priority in the Northern NSW Integrated Care Strategy 2014-2015. NNSWLHD and the North Coast Primary Health Network (now trading under HNC) committed to developing a Health Literacy Framework.

The Northern NSW Health Literacy Steering Group was formed to guide the project. 

The Health Literacy Project is
recognised internationally for its achievements.

These include:

The Northern NSW Health Literacy website

It includes helpful guidelines, case studies and tools for health professionals and consumers and is accessed by people around the world

A Health Literacy training program for health professionals

Over 1000 health professionals across all health settings have been trained in health literacy strategies

Consumer engagement

We provide practical support for staff to collect consumer feedback or invite consumer input. Some activities have included collection of consumer stories and walking interviews with consumers to improve Byron Hospital signage.

Health Literacy Ambassador Program

Staff at NNSWLHD are trained to implement health literacy improvements in their own services.

Health information resource improvement

Hundreds of consumer resources have been reviewed against health literacy standards. Local guidelines for developing resources for consumers have been developed for our organisation.

Health literacy elements included in local projects

Some projects with a health literacy focus have included Winter Strategy, the Women’s Cancer Screening Collaborative, development of a Kidney Care Plan, nursing co-design projects, Mental Health Literacy Project. See our case studies section for more information.


Framework Review

The Framework priorities were reviewed in 2022 in response to changes in the health landscape. These included:

  • New Australian and international evidence on health literacy impacts on health and care.
  • A shift in health literacy work around the world to organisational health literacy.
  • New local, state and national policies supporting health literacy.

A panel of health staff and consumers reviewed the Framework priorities. They were informed by:

  • The changes in health literacy policy and evidence base since 2016.
  • Achievements and lessons learned from six years of implementing the Health Literacy Project.

The panel agreed that the Framework would include high level priorities. Ideas for action were noted to be investigated if appropriate for future work plans. Feedback from 2022 framework review was captured here

JargonPlain Language
Pre-opBefore surgery
ECGElectrical picture of your heart
PRNWhen needed
SupineOn back
Discharge planningMaking a plan to get out of hospital
FastDo not eat during this time
SatsOxygen in blood
PathologySomething is not working right
Verbal comprehensionUnderstanding what other people are saying
FebrileHigh temperature
GaitWalking pattern
BilateralBoth sides
AbstainDon’t do
UF goalHow much fluid we want to take off
Primary health assessmentHealth check with GP
ProphylacticTo prevent
QID4 times a day
PivotChanging from an old strategy
AF(atrial fibrillation) Heart flutter/irregular heart rate
Nil by mouthNothing to eat or drink
Upper limbsArms
DyspnoeaShortness of breath
AnalgesiaPain relief

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