Indigenous Environmental Health: Report of the Fifth National Conference 2004
Australian Institute of Environmental Health
Bruce Morton, National President, Australian Institute of Environmental Health
The Australian Institute of Environmental Health (AIEH) would like to acknowledge the traditional owners for their support of the conference. I’ll briefly cover what AIEH, as an organisation, is and some of our initiatives.
The AIEH was formed in the 1930s. We are a long-established organisation for environmental health practitioners. We have members across Australia and have state-based branches and regional groups which are a forum for member exchange. We were one of the founding members of the International Federation of Environmental Health, so we not only have local, state and national links, but we also have international links as well as a national Indigenous environmental health special interest group.
Mission statementThe AIEH seeks to provide a healthy, safe and attractive natural, built and social environment for the Australian community through enhancement of the practice of environmental health and the professional development of environmental health practitioners.
Corporate goalsThe AIEH’s corporate goals are:
- Professional development - To ensure professional excellence in the science and practice of environmental health.
- Environmental health advocacy - To fulfil the task of being the peak professional environmental health organisation in Australia.
- Organisational development - To ensure a dynamic and efficient organisation which functions in an effective and responsive manner for its members and the objectives of the Institute.
InitiativesOne of our initiatives is an accreditation program for environmental health education. Some of the benefits of this initiative have been increased professionalism among practitioners, that the skill of graduates and their level of education is more consistent and that employers have more confidence in qualifications. We have involved all universities offering environmental health degrees in our Educators’ Forum and encourage universities to meet the accreditation standards. We also work to increase the popularity of the environmental health profession.
Another initiative is the Australian Food Safety Assessment Program. It’s a standard for assessment of food premises and is a practical process that environmental health practitioners can implement in their community and in local governments across Australia. It means environmental health practitioners can identify food safety non-compliance with national consistency. It provides a uniform assessment system that reduces subjectivity without oversimplifying the assessment procedure.
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One of our principle initiatives is the Journal of Environmental Health that has received continuing support from the federal Department of Health and Ageing and the enHealth Council. The journal has covered environmental health topics as diverse as: communicable diseases, food safety, Indigenous health, infection control, environmental impact from landfill sites, air pollution, climate change and heavy metals.
In 1986 AIEH (or the Australian Institute of Health Surveyors as it was known then) became a founding member of the International Federation of Environmental Health which now has 33 member countries. The next (8th) World Congress will be held in Dublin, and then Brisbane will host the 9th World Congress in 2008. This will be a great opportunity to ensure that environmental health across Australia—and certainly Indigenous environmental health - is represented in the program and it will be a momentous occasion for AIEH and our members.
I’d like to close by saying that AIEH demonstrates its support for Indigenous health and the Indigenous environmental health workforce by:
- recognising Indigenous health as a priority area
- creating a membership category for environmental health workers
- having an Indigenous environmental health special interest group
- advocating for improvement of Indigenous environmental health outcomes and Indigenous environmental health workforce issues
- sponsoring Indigenous environmental health activities such as this National Indigenous Environmental Health Conference
- providing a forum for Indigenous environmental health issues to be understood and addressed
- providing contacts, networking and professional support
- providing professional development activities.
For further information
National President, Australian Institute of Environmental Health
PO Box 2222, Fortitude Valley BC,
Phone: 07 3000 9120
Fax: 07 3000 9121