The report presents the findings of a process and impact evaluation of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on the Wairoa District Council (WDC)’s draft waste management activity plan. The evaluation was conducted concurrently with the HIA. Data were gathered for the evaluation using a mix of methods: including participant observation, participant workshop evaluation feedback, documentary analysis and interviews with nine key stakeholders.
The evaluation findings suggest all six of the HIA’s objectives were achieved, though some to a lesser extent than others, and that the WDC benefited significantly from the HIA inputs. In response to one of the HIA recommendations, two of the district’s more isolated rural communities are currently in negotiations with the WDCl to pilot joint council-community waste management pilots in their communities, a development that is unlikely to have occurred without the HIA. The evaluation also serves to provide those directly involved in the HIA’s process an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learnt and apply the knowledge gained to future HIAs.
Overall lessons learnt from this HIA
- HIA can assist councils to develop policy more strongly based on evidence and effective community consultation than some traditional council processes
- HIA can assist councils to make innovative policy decisions
- HIA may be most appropriate for major policy developments, as the process takes time and resources that councils may not always have to hand, at least to undertake HIAs themselves
- A partnership between councils and district health boards can facilitate effective HIA processes, particularly if there is some joint resourcing of the process
- New funding makes HIA possible
- The relatively high cost of undertaking HIAs suggests it is mainly suited for use on significant policy projects such as the subject of this HIA.
- When HIA is new to an organisation, careful consideration should be given when screening policies to selecting a policy which lends itself to HIA and is likely to be well supported in the community.
- Checks need to be made at key stages in the process to ensure that the process addresses obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.
- At the scoping phase it is important to size the HIA to the policy under consideration and to the resources available, to be clear about what is included and excluded from the HIA, and what could be picked up in other processes.
- Careful consideration needs to be given as to how to engage key stakeholders, including senior management and political leaders, and community members in the HIA process.
The report also outlines other learnings around HIA process, community consultation, and training and resources.