A major goal underlying the community health programme initiative in Australia was the prevention of disease. The clients and people in the communities served by two Brisbane community health centres were studied to determine the extent to which (a) they had received preventive advice; (b) they had acted upon such advice. Comparative data on non-client community samples were also examined. The data indicate that there is little preventive activity and little evidence of changes in behaviour associated with preventive programs in the two health centre areas. The apparent failure of at least one major goal of the community health programe in Queensland is attributable to, amongst other factors, political and structural forces which impeded the successful implementation of this policy initiative.