The North Coast region consists 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 Public Health Unit (PHU) is to assist indigenous communities to identify and resolve environmental health issues.
EHOs work with Aboriginal community groups and organisations to identify and address environmental health issues. Discussions are held with the relevant stakeholders during community visits, Local Aboriginal Land Council/PHU meetings, Local Government/PHU meetings, Aboriginal Health meetings, special projects the PHU participates in and through complaints and referrals that we receive.
Programs and activities the EHOs of the PHU have been involved in to resolve local Aboriginal environmental health issues are:
- Community Action Rodent Eradication Program (CARE) – program aimed at reducing rodents in a community. The program included an educational component and supported housing repairs & maintenance crew from the 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 .
- Water Quality Monitoring - EHOs are involved in the NSW Health Colisure Water Quality Monitoring Program. This program consists of monthly microbiological samples being taken from Aboriginal communities which are not connected to a reticulated town water supply and are responsible for the management and maintenance of the systems. The monitoring program has been further developed with the recent introduction of monthly chemical samples being taken from these communities.
- 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.
The PHU actively participates in the Housing for Health Program. Information on Housing for Health can be found on NSW web page.
The NCAHS participates in the Aboriginal Trainee EHO program. Information about the trainee program can be found on the NSW Health web page.
For other information please see the Environmental Health, NSW Department of Health website.