The system of public health in Western Australia, and in all jurisdictions in Australia, is based on a partnership of interlocked responsibilities between Local, State and Commonwealth governments. At an international level, this partnership also includes World Health Organisation.

Local Government provides an extensive range of public and environmental health services, including food safety, school and community immunisation programs, human waste and waste water control, business inspections and health risk assessments.

Managing Alcohol In Our Communities (MAIOC) Guide

The MAIOC Guide supports Local Governments to address alcohol-related issues within their communities and create a safe and healthy place for people to work, live and play.

The Guide has been developed in partnership with the Mental Health Commission (MHC), the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia (PHAIWA) and WALGA.

Click here to download.

Public Health Act 2016

The WA State Government currently introducing a new Public Health Act for Western Australia which will require Local Governments to develop local public health plans. Local Government works with partners to ensure better health outcomes for their communities. This is through legislation such as the Public Health Act 2016Food Act 2001, Tobacco Control Act 2006 or the Caravan and Camping Grounds Act 1997, Emergency Management Act  2005 and their accompanying responsibilities for hygiene and safety.

Local Government also support the delivery of the National Partnership Agreements established by the  Council of Australian Governments (COAG) which is  the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia. The members of COAG are the Prime Minister, State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

More generally, Councils provide a significant but often unrecognised contribution to public health and mental wellbeing by providing public and social infrastructure such as roads and recreational facilities. This also includes community services such as playgrounds, sporting facilities, parks and lighting and public services such as home and community care, libraries and support following an emergency like a bushfire or flood. All of these contribute to the health and wellbeing of individuals and their communities.

Public Health Act and Public Health Planning Information Session

WALGA hosted an event on 12 September to provide information to Local Government Elected Members and CEOs on their obligations under the Public Health Act 2016, particularly the requirement for a Local Government to provide a Local Public Health Plan.

A video recording and presentation slides are available below. For more information please contact Senior Policy Advisor, Community Evie Devitt-Rix.

Video Recording

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Video Download

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Presentation(s) Download

WALGA Advocacy

Local Government have requested for WALGA to continue to advocate for funding, support and resources from State and Commonwealth Government to assist with their transition to the new obligations under the Act and support for improved health outcomes for their communities.

In response, WALGA established the Public Health Advisory Group, later renamed the Health and Wellbeing Advocacy Group, to support WALGA’s Public Health advocacy activities and to provide technical advice to inform WALGA submissions and advocacy on behalf of member Local Governments. In February 2017, WALGA surveyed Local Government about their readiness to meet their obligations under the Act and future health workforce needs seeking feedback on environmental health workforce planning and local public health planning in order to ensure appropriate resources and reporting frameworks are established to allow the sector to meet their responsibilities in this role. As a result, two Draft Discussion Papers were developed for Member consideration.

The Role of Local Government in Community Health and Wellbeing discussion paper was prepared to inform members on their obligations under the Act, assist with Local Public Health Planning, and identify what further support and resources are required to assist Local Government.  

Environmental Health Workforce Planning discussion paper provides the results of the WALGA survey of the Local Government Environmental Health workforce, and encourages Local Governments to plan for their future workforce by following recommendations and resources provided by the former Department of Local Government and Communities. (Now the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries)

In July 2017, the Department of Health released the First Interim State Public Health Plan for Local Government comment. The First Interim State Public Health Plan sets the public health policy prirotities for Western Australia. Local Governments can give regard to these priorities when preparing their Local Public Health Plans. WALGA's Submission on the First Interim State Public Health Plan was developed  based on engagement with Local Governments. The submission was endorsed by WALGA State Council and submitted to the Department of Health in December 2017.

WALGA’s Health and Wellbeing Advocacy Group has provided a list of recommendations for programs to be included in the Local Public Health Plans of all metropolitan Local Governments in WA. The list can be downloaded here.

Health Services in Regional Areas

In late 2017, WALGA was approached by regional Local Governments to advocate for greater support for health services in their regions.

Regional, rural or remote areas with small or dispersed populations can lack adequate numbers of medical services to appropriately respond to health issues and emergencies in the community. Various factors can contribute to this situation,  including the difficulty recruiting and retaining workers, a lack of funding for positions, or a lack of facilities. 
 
In response to a State Council Executive Committee request, all regional areas in WA were surveyed in early 2018, to determine the extent of their challenges, and how Local Governments would like WALGA to assist. A report of this survey was presented to State Council in September 2018, and recommendations included working with affected Local Governments and key stakeholders to address solutions to these challenges.

The report is located here

WALGA Regional Health Services Event - 19 February 2019

In early 2019 WALGA hosted an event which aimed to provide a starting point to address these concerns, bringing together affected Local Governments to hear about current and future priorities for the primary health agencies which operate in their area, and encourage greater partnership and collaboration between Local Government and primary health. The event featured presentations from the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), the Aboriginal Health Council of WA, Rural Health West, and St John Ambulance WA, and interactive sessions provided an opportunity for attendees to speak directly with representatives of these organisations.

Video Recording

A link to a video recording of the event is available here.

Presentation Download

WA Country Health Service: Regional Health Services
WA Primary Health Alliance: Engaging with Local Governments through the Primary Health Networks
Aboriginal Health Council of WA: Mappa - Mapping Health Services Closer to Home
Rural Health West: Recruitment and Retention of Regional Health Staff
St John WA: Building Resilient Communities - Country Primary Health Initiative