Local Governments and Public Health Planning

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. The WA State Government introduced the Public Health Act 2016  for Western Australia which requires Local Governments to develop local public health plans. The Public Health Act 2016 is being delivered in stages, with progress through Stage 5 currently taking place. All regulations from the previous Act are currently under review and will be repealed and replaced. A list of current Local Government public health plans is available here.

WALGA Health and Wellbeing Advocacy Group

The WALGA Health and Wellbeing Advocacy Group was established in 2015. The group is convened to provide expertise, technical advice and insight into the implementation of public health initiatives in Local Government and to assist WALGA in developing advocacy across public health portfolios including but not limited to; environmental health, health promotion, physical activity, mental health and preventative health. The group consists of Local Government representatives whose job roles encompass public health and wellbeing. The Terms of Reference can be viewed here.

WALGA is also a member of the Metropolitan Environmental Health Management Group (MEHMG) and the Local Government Health and Wellbeing Network to ensure all Local Governments are receiving relevant information and have opportunities to provide feedback and comment.

State Public Health Plan for Western Australia 2019-2024

The Department of Health has released the State Public Health Plan for Western Australia 2019-2024. The Plan provides high level strategic directions focusing on prevention, health promotion and health protection strategies that aim to prevent disease, illness, injury, disability and premature death in Western Australia.

The State Public Health Plan establishes a vision for Western Australians, where we aspire for the people of WA to experience the best possible health, wellbeing and quality of life. This vision is supported by three objectives:

Objective 1 - Empower and enable people to live healthy lives.
Objective 2 - Provide health protection for the community.
Objective 3 - Improve Aboriginal health and wellbeing.

This is the first state public health plan produced for WA to support the future requirements of Part 5 of the Public Health Act 2016, requiring each Local Government to publish a local public health plan that is consistent with the State Public Health Plan. The plan is intended to support Local Governments commencing or continuing the public health planning process. Local Governments can consider the Plan’s priorities and adapt them as necessary.

A simple and effective overview of the Plan can be viewed in the following resources:

Public Health Planning Roles and Responsibilities

To support Local Governments with the public health planning process, the Department of Health and each Health Service Provider (North, South, East and WA Country Health Services, and Child and Adolescent Health Service) have formally outlined the roles and responsibilities of each agency when supporting and guiding local governments who initiate their public health plan in accordance with Part 5 of the Public Health Act 2016. Local Governments are encouraged to contact their Health Service Provider in the early phases of preparing their plan.

Sustainable Health Review

In June 2017, the Government of Western Australia announced the Sustainable Health Review to prioritise the delivery of patient-centred, high quality and financially sustainable healthcare across the State. Following extensive consultation and engagement with stakeholders across Western Australia, the Sustainable Health Review Panel published the Final Report.

The Final Report has eight Enduring Strategies and 30 Recommendations which seek to drive a cultural and behavioural shift across the health system. Priority 1 in the Sustainable Health Review is most relevant to public health as it seeks to 'Increase and sustain focus and investment in public health, with prevention rising to at least five per cent of total health expenditure by July 2029'.  The Department of Health has established an Implementation Unit to implement these 30 recommendations, with the Oversight Committee appointed to oversee and monitor all actions.


Regulation Review Program

The Department of Health is reviewing all regulations adopted under the  Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911, as well as a number of provisions within the Act in the lead up to Stage 5 of implementation of the  Public Health Act 2016 . The aim is to determine whether these public health risks must continue to be regulated under the new regulatory framework provided by the Public Health Act 2016,  or can be managed in other ways such as a local law, other legislation or a guideline. WALGA has made a number of advocacy submissions on various regulations under review.

WALGA Advocacy Submissions:  

Climate Health Inquiry

In March 2019, the State Government announced a Chief Health Officer Inquiry to investigate the implications of climate change, including more frequent and intense weather events, on health. WALGA's submission to this inquiry is available here. The final report was tabled in Parliament and its recommendations endorsed on 4 December 2020. The final report makes 10 recommendations to plan and respond to the health impacts of climate change.

Local Government and Mental Health Forum

WALGA acknowledges that addressing mental health requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that involves Local Governments. Partnering with various organisations and working with the State Government is essential to ensure we can encourage positive mental wellbeing in our local communities. On 11 November 2019, WALGA held a Local Government and Mental Health Forum to explore and acknowledge the contribution of policies and programs that Local Governments are providing to address mental health in their local communities.

The presentations are available below: