Australia's health status is generally improving, but there is potential for further gains in several areas. The National Health Priority Areas (NHPA) initiative seeks to focus public attention and health policy on those areas that contribute most to the burden of illness in the community, particularly if the burden can be significantly reduced. It is a process of collaborative activity involving the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, and builds on previous activity under the banner of 'National Health Goals and Targets'. The NHPA initiative provides a national approach to tackling the five identified priority areas; cardiovascular health, cancer control, injury prevention and control, mental health and diabetes mellitus.