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Department Overview

The Prevention Education and Research Unit (PERU), established in 1995, continues to be at the forefront of delivering innovative community and school-based prevention and health leadership programs.

Vision: To enable research based preventive practices and education to work towards health equity.

  1. Promote health and wellbeing for all
  2. Empower young people to build leadership and advocacy skills
  3. Serve the community
  4. Strengthen partnerships to engage in collaborative research projects

Our prevention programs are social capacity building in healthy eating and physical activity, asthma, smoking cessation and promoting healthy choices in adolescents in high schools, and universities. The programs continue to show results, with strong partnerships with a range of services and organisations. We are grateful to the WSLHD and Research Education Network executives and staff for their wholehearted support of our work.


Our Programs

Students As LifeStyle Activists (SALSA)

Students As LifeStyle Activists (SALSA) is a peer-led leadership program designed to motivate students to increase physical activity and improve diet.

It starts when we train university students to be SALSA Educators:

Step 1 SALSA Educators (university students) will train volunteer Year 10 students as SALSA Peer Leaders during a one-day workshop held at schools.
The peer leaders will learn how to empower their younger peers about eating healthier foods and being physically active.

Step 2 SALSA Peer Leaders in teams of four will deliver 4 × 60 min lessons (or equivalent) to Year 8 students using a video, games and activities. The four lessons are: Simple Changes, Movement Matters, Food Choices and SALSA Actions.

Step 3All students are encouraged to create an individual SMART goal and design a School Action Plan.
By participating in the SALSA program, students make simple changes to eat more fruit and vegetables and be more physically active. Students set their own personal goals and team-based school action plans to create a supportive school environment for healthy food choices and physical activity.
The program takes an innovative approach, where students drive both the teaching and learning process.
Year 10 students have the opportunity to apply leadership skills to increase student’s physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, and a decrease in the consumption of sugary drinks. Each year schools receive a summary report of the benefits of participating in the SALSA program
Overall the SALSA project is designed and managed by the Prevention Education and Research Unit, Western Sydney Local Health District in partnership with Mt Druitt, Blacktown and Hills Medical Practitioners Associations, High Schools, Western Sydney Primary Health Network and The University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine and Health.

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Adolescent Asthma Action (Triple A)

The Triple A Program

The Triple A program is a proven initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of students with asthma and significantly reduces the likelihood of smoking in a supportive school environment. Triple A builds leadership and communication skills, while promoting health and well-being at your school.

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In the Media

Walking into Good Health

Walking into Good Health: Tobacco smoking still remains the greatest single cause of premature death in NSW. The past decade has seen a decrease in daily smoking rates, however in western Sydney a substantial number of people continue to smoke. Walking into Good Health” is a collaborative project between WSLHD, CHW, Chifley College, CMRC, Cancer Institute and WentWest. The concept was inspired by the students from Mount Druitt Chifley College, who designed a mural to improve the health and wellbeing of students with asthma and prevent the uptake of smoking. In 2019, we will train general practitioners and pharmacists to offer brief smoking cessation counselling, so that patients and clients are encouraged and supported to quit smoking as part of routine care. We will distribute the postcards and posters from the original artwork, with resources provided by the Cancer Institute and Kids Quit to distribute to GPs and Pharmacists and will evaluate its impact.

Walking in good health TN
Click image to download flyer


Research Projects in 2021

  1. Students As LifeStyle Activists (SALSA) program and it’s extensions
    1. Evaluate the Youth Voices in the community’ project
    2. Publish the results of the feasibility study of ‘Reaching Homes and Families’ project and plan for future interventional research
    3. Introduce and test a new cookery package: ‘Breakfast on the Go’, Lunch and Dinner to lesson 3 in the SALSA program.
  2. Walking into Good Health’ project, as an extension of the Triple A program
    1. Assess if the Kid’s Quit resources and training have assisted health professionals (GP’s, pharmacists) to provide smoking cessation counselling to their clients.
    2. Evaluate the impact of community awareness social media campaign


You can download our flyers and newsletters here:

SALSA Youth Voices 2020 TN
Click image to download flyer

Click image to download flyer


You can download our infographics here:


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Click image to download infographic

Triple A

Triple A Infographic

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Visit the University of Sydney website to learn more about our leadership programs


Links to our articles

Western Sydney student made video inspires healthy teen lifestyle

Students learn healthy lifestyle online


Contact Information

Phone: 02 8890 6505
Fax: 02 8890 5310
PO Box 533, Westmead NSW 2145



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