Aboriginal Environmental Health

The North Coast region is the home of many Aboriginal communities which experience varying environmental health issues. Some communities are in remote locations and are on separate water and sewer systems to the town supply.

A focus of the Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) of the North Coast Public Health Unit (NCPHU) is to assist indigenous communities to identify and resolve environmental health issues.

Discussions are held with the relevant stakeholders during community visits, Local Aboriginal Land Council/NCPHU meetings, Local Government/NCPHU meetings, Aboriginal Health meetings and special projects the NCPHU participates in and through complaints and referrals that we receive.

Programs and activities that EHOs have been involved in to resolve local Aboriginal environmental health issues include:

  • Community Action Rodent Eradication Program (CARE) – program aimed at reducing rodents in a community.
  • Community Clean-ups – Work with Aboriginal communities to develop waste minimisation strategies and to prevent the accumulation of waste products that present a health and safety risk to the community. EHOs assist by communicating with relevant stakeholders and advocate for funding
  • Infrastructure Upgrades – Assist communities in advocating for funding to upgrade infrastructure. EHOs also work with other Government Organisations to ensure that sustainability concepts are an integral component of infrastructure upgrades
  • Mister Germ Mister Germ is a hand washing program targeted at all students in preschool. Stakeholders include Aboriginal Health & Health Promotion Coordinator for the Regional Health Service Program.
  • Housing for Health – Housing for Health is a copyright methodology for improving living conditions in Aboriginal communities. It was initially developed in the late 1980s in the far north west of South Australia. The group that came to be known as Healthabitat set about developing a methodology that focused on environmental changes that would lead to maximum health gains, particularly for children aged 0-5 years.Research has shown that improving essential health hardware (fixing a leaking toilet, electrical repairs, having sufficient hot water, having somewhere to wash a baby or child, etc.) can lead to improvements in health status and reduce the risk of disease and injury.The Housing for Health process aims to assess, repair or replace health hardware so that houses are safe and the occupants have the ability to carry out healthy living practices (HLPs).

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