Aboriginal environmental health needs survey

The Environmental Health Needs of Aboriginal Communities in WA 2008 report was developed following a survey of discrete Aboriginal communities in 2007 and 2008.

The survey was jointly funded by members of the Environmental Health Coordinating Committee (EHNCC), the peak coordinating body in Aboriginal environmental health in WA.

The survey was undertaken with the valued assistance of Environmental Health Officers and Aboriginal Environmental Health Workers employed by local governments, Indigenous organisations and Public Health Units.

The survey results and report have been used by stakeholders to guide their provision and management of environmental health services to Aboriginal communities.

Read the full Environmental Health Needs Survey (EHNS) 2008 Report (4.5MB).

Survey purpose

The purpose of this survey was to update and obtain information on discrete Aboriginal communities.

The EHNCC membership comprised of infrastructure, service and workforce funding agencies from State, Commonwealth and local government including:

These agencies pooled their resources to streamline surveys and improve coordination across the three levels of government in response to environmental health needs in Aboriginal communities.

The key objectives of the survey were to:

  • collect accurate, reliable and shared data source on environmental health needs across the State in order to assess relative needs and to inform resource allocation
  • promote effective coordination between government agencies and service providers
  • monitor and report on progress in addressing need
  • inform policy, program and budget development.
Core indicators of environmental health

The 2008 report provided analysis on the 8 core environmental health indicators of:

  1. Water
  2. Electricity
  3. Housing
  4. Solid waste disposal
  5. Sanitation
  6. Dust
  7. Dog health programs
  8. Emergency management.
Major report findings

The 2008 EHNS Report analysed the survey results of 232 remote and town based Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. Results were compared to similar reports produced in 1997 and 2004 by the former Department of Indigenous Affairs, now known as the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (external site).

Access to utilities

The report showed there was a significant increase in the proportion of WAs Aboriginal community population whose water, electricity and sewerage is provided for by either mainstream utility arrangements or via the Remote Area Essential Services (RAESP) Program:

  • Water – increase from 76% in 1997 to 90% in 2008.
  • Electricity – increase from 76% in 1997 to 91% in 2008.
  • Sanitation – increase from 69% in 1997 to 82% in 2008.

Provision of municipal services

There was also a significant increase in the provision of some of the municipal services:

  • Appropriate rubbish disposal services – increase from 29% in 1997 to 61% in 2008.
  • Dog programs – 78% in 1997 to 93% in 2008.

Dust suppression/hazard preparation

There was little or no increase in the proportion that live in communities that have a dust suppression program or are sufficiently prepared for prevailing hazards (cyclones/bushfires):

  • Dust programs – 35% in 1997 and in 2008.
  • Prone to bushfires and have fire fighting equipment – from 32% in 2004 to 34% in 2008.
  • Prone to cyclones and have evacuation plans – 41% in 1997 and in 2008.

Managed services

In 2008, the proportion of the population in communities with satisfactory 'managed services' increased as follows:

  • Water – from 69% of the population satisfied in 1997 to 77% in 2008.
  • Electricity – from 60% of the population satisfied in 1997 to 80% in 2008.
  • Sanitation – from 31% of the population satisfied in 1997 to 80% in 2008.
  • Solid waste – from 32% of the population living in communities with no or low litter levels in 1997 to 80% in 2008.
  • Dust – from 16% of the population living in communities with no or low dust levels in 1997 to 33% in 2008.
  • Emergency management – from 13% of the population living in communities that have members trained in emergency management in 2004 to 25% in 2008.
  • Housing – from a density of 7.0 people per permanent dwelling in 1997 to 5.3 in 2008.
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Public Health