Public Health Act 2016

The WA State Government introduced the Public Health Act 2016 for Western Australia which requires Local Governments to develop local public health plans. Local Government is the closest level of Government to the community and provides a significant contribution to public health and mental wellbeing of the community through the provision of  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.

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).

Public Health 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.

Public Health Act 2016 and Local Government Public Health Planning Information Session

WALGA has previously hosted an event 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.

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