Report of the 6th National Conference

Preface

Page last updated: 07 July 2008

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This conference monograph has been produced by the Working Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health (WGATSIEH), and is the sixth in the series of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health conference monographs. As with previous conference monographs, the report aims to contribute to the debate around, and increase the understanding and awareness of environmental health issues, with a key focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Workers (EHWs).

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health conferences are held regularly in order to provide a national forum for discussion and to raise the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health issues.

The first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference was held in Cairns in 1998 with the aim of providing an opportunity for people working in and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to discuss common concerns, issues and strategies for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health.

The second conference was held in Broome in 1999. The resulting recommendations were used to inform the final development of the Implementation Plan for the National Environmental Health Strategy, and to further develop collaborative projects and strategies for progress on a national basis through the then enHealth Council. A key recommendation from this conference was to establish a national Indigenous Advisory Committee.

The third conference was held in Alice Springs in 2000, and was facilitated by members of the newly established National Indigenous Environmental Health Forum (NIEHF) which comprised Environmental Health practitioners from each State and Territory, and a subcommittee of the then enHealth Council. Each NIEHF member gave a presentation at the conference.

The fourth conference was held in Adelaide in November 2002. The themes of presentations and discussions reaffirmed the importance of a well-trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health workforce. The conference emphasised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health workers and officers should be accorded status reflecting the importance of their role, and their training should be provided at accredited and recognised levels.

The fifth conference was held in Terrigal, NSW, in 2004 and brought together environmental health practitioners from across Australia and New Zealand who showcased their projects and programs, successes and challenges. It was anticipated that delegates armed with this knowledge would consider adapting these programs within their own communities.

The sixth conference was held at the Cairns Convention Centre in May 2007 and showcased some new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health initiatives targeting improvements to the built environment; workforce development; food safety and nutrition; water quality; waste management; pest and animal control and climate change. The recommendations of this conference have been included in the five-year WGATSIEH Work Plan. Progress on these recommendations will be monitored and the results will be presented at the seventh National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference in 2009 to be held in Western Australia.

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