Deposit N349 - Health and Education Promotion System (HEAPS) files

Identity area

Reference code



Health and Education Promotion System (HEAPS) files


  • 1987 - 1999 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

84 boxes

Context area

Name of creator

(Jul 1987 - Jun 1991)

Biographical history

The Department of Community Services and Health was an Australian government department that existed between July 1987 and June 1991. The department was an amalgamation of the Department of Community Services and the Department of Health. According to the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO) made on 24 July 1987, the Department dealt with:
• Services for the aged, people with disabilities and families with children
• Community support services
• Housing assistance
• Public health, research and preventative medicine
• Community health projects
• Health promotion
• Pharmaceutical benefits
• Health benefits schemes
• Human quarantine
• National drug abuse strategy

Name of creator

(1984 -)

Administrative history

Datascape Information Pty Ltd is a media/information service company located in Torrens, Australian Capital Territory. This private company was founded in 1984.

Name of creator

(1992 -)

Administrative history

Prometheus Information Pty Ltd is a computer related service company in Braddon, Australian Capital Territory. This private company was founded in August 1992.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

HEAPS is a national database which provides details of health promotion material and activities throughout Australia and New Zealand. It acts as a directory of contact people working in the areas of health education and promotion and as a guide to the programs and resources they have produced. Over 1000 topics are covered on HEAPS and include subject areas such as Aboriginal health, nutrition, women's health, occupational health and safety, smoking, drug and alcohol misuse, and mental health. HEAPS was initiated in response to recommendations from the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference in April 1985, and a meeting of State Directors of Health Promotion. The lack of well organised and easily accessible information was identified as one of the major blocks to the growth of health promotion in Australia. It was recommended that a computerised database be established to alleviate this problem. HEAPS was piloted in Victoria in 1985, and then steadily spread across Australia. HEAPS was jointly funded by State and Territory Health Departments (NSW Health, SA Health, Queensland Health, &c) and by the Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health under the National Health Promotion Program (NHPP). State Health Departments funded the employment and resourcing of State Co-ordinators, who were responsible for the collection of data, the management and promotion of HEAPS at the local level, and servicing of most search requests. The Commonwealth provided funds for a national office, originally located at Victoria College, Rusden Campus, which was responsible for overall system co-ordination, development, marketing and evaluation. In 1991 the management of HEAPS was transferred to a private company, Datascape Information Pty Ltd, and towards the end of 1994 it was taken over by Prometheus Information in Canberra. By 2000 further expansion was no longer possible, due to limited funding, and, also, the need for HEAPS as a stand-alone system was gradually being eroded by the increasing availability of health information on the internet. Initially HEAPS could be accessed via the National Library’s MEDLINE. Under private management it was available as a set of floppy disks with a printed manual, and finally on CD-ROM. The holdings consist of administrative papers, health information and promotional materials such as pamphlets, booklets, posters, video recordings, &c. and information on the agencies supplying the materials. Although the original intention of the project seems to have been to inform the public on the location and availability of materials, many agencies supplied copies of their materials, and these have been retained (ref. HEAPS files, N349/1467, Training manual and miscellaneous notes, Oct 1989).


System of arrangement

The arrangement of the holdings reflects the three distinct phases in the administration of the project.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Researchers must sign an access agreement

Conditions governing reproduction

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Finding aids

Item list

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Existence and location of copies

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Notes area


Agency files - Inclusion in the database is made possible by completing a contribution form, detailing what the health promotion activity is, what its aims are, why it came about, whether planning and evaluation documents are available, what works and what does not, and who can be contacted for further information. This information is retained in an ‘agency file’.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Prepared by Margaret Avard during October and November 2016




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