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Boost for environmental health in Aboriginal communities
29/01/2001 7:04 PM
Two additional Environmental Health Officers (EHO) have been employed in the Kimberley to serve remote Aboriginal communities, Health Minister John Day said today.
This addition, which ensures that each of the four Kimberley Shires now has an EHO (Aboriginal Communities), follows a State Government allocation of $720,000 to expand the Aboriginal Environmental Health program.
The allocation forms part of the $2.6 million being spent on Aboriginal environmental health in 2000-01, and the $19 million overall on Aboriginal health.
Mr Day said a pilot of this approach in Halls Creek and Derby-West Kimberley Shires was so successful it was decided to expand the program to other regions.
"The pilot has seen a number of remote Aboriginal communities receiving environmental health services on par with those provided in small country towns," he said.
"In addition, many of the barriers that have existed in the past between local government and Aboriginal communities and organisations have been broken down.
"This latest State Government allocation builds upon this positive base, with shires in the Pilbara and the Goldfields also targeted for an additional Environmental Health Officer each to work specifically with Aboriginal communities.
"Five new Aboriginal Field Support Officers will also be employed to deliver practical support and advice to Aboriginal communities in the Goldfields, Murchison, Gascoyne, Pilbara, Kimberley, and Central and Western Desert regions."
Some of the core services provided by Environmental Health Officers to Aboriginal communities include:
assessment of building applications and on-site effluent disposal systems;
surveillance of solid waste disposal systems and sites;
providing education to help reduce the incidence of infectious disease;
negotiating with other service providers to resolve problems, and undertake maintenance and repairs on housing and essential service infrastructure;
sampling of community water supplies;
assistance in vector control;
administrating a dog health program; and -
inspecting food premises, community stores and commercial kitchens.
Mr Day said the Health Department of Western Australia was committed to working with local government as a means of improving Aboriginal Environmental health.
This partnership with local government consolidates the process of co-operation and co-ordination across all levels of Government to improve Aboriginal Environmental Health.
Media contact: Carole Cowling 9213 6600