Indigenous Environmental Health: Report of the Fifth National Conference 2004
Umbakumba Community - Aboriginal Environmental Health Worker - Environmental Storyboard
Nesman Bara, Aboriginal Environmental Health Worker, Umbakumba Council, Umbakumba Community1
Aims and objectivesThe Aboriginal Environmental Health Worker Program was developed through council and needed someone in the position. I was interested in the job so took my place as an environmental health worker for my community. The job remains in the community and the council runs it. The focus of the project is the health and wellbeing of the community; and other related health issues such as housing maintenance, inspection of the tip, sewage pond, pest control, shop, and school.
ProgramThe main stakeholders are the council and the community. The program started when the council looked at health and wellbeing within the community and appointed an Aboriginal environmental health worker.
We monitor the projects by delivering mops, buckets, dustpans, brooms, rakes, etc. and by showing the community how to use these the right way. This has already benefited the community on how to live the healthy way.
In 2002 we had a scabies day at the school and half the people from the community participated. We give children aged 0–5 annual scabies check ups and educate them about how scabies affects people.
We haven’t had any unexpected outcomes.
SustainabilityThe program and the projects it supports will continue in the future. Now that the initial program has been delivered and people in the community have been educated they can take responsibility for their health. In my Aboriginal environmental health worker position I have the opportunity to move to the next step. Projects can be replicated and the program can achieve more than was achieved in the past two years.
Lessons learnedI have learned a lot by becoming an Aboriginal environmental health worker for my community. The council had the opportunity to improve living conditions. General health in the community is better now than it was in the past.
The main difficulty for me initially was that looking back at the past gave me no ideas for the future. But as things progressed I learned. My challenge is to keep improving Aboriginal health and lifestyles.
In terms of what I would do the same or differently in implementing such a program again: I would start by focusing on what I learned from the programs I had delivered and get others who had worked with me during these programs involved.
I have found other contacts, links and resources, such as other local communities to be very useful. Although they may have different programs and projects they still have the same experiences and can share what is needed for the community.
Yes, given more training and skills development, there are other opportunities for me to be involved in other projects and programs within the council.
Budget and fundingThe council received funding from the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory. Half the funding has paid for my wages and the other half was used to buy things the community needed for better health and housing outcomes.
For further information
Aboriginal Environmental Health Worker,
Umbakumba Community Groote Eylandt,
Northern Territory 0822
Phone: 08 8987 6790
Fax: 08 8987 6783
1. The Umbakumba Council and the CDEP run and fund this position.