Indigenous Environmental Health: Report of the Fifth National Conference 2004
Batchelor's New Environmental Health Degree: A Workforce Capacity-Building Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Future
Zane Hughes, lecturer, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Northern Territory
Requests for environmental health workforce capacity building and community development programs have been high on the agenda of every National Indigenous Environmental Health Conference conducted across Australia to date. Coupled with this has been a demonstrated need for a career path for Indigenous environmental health workers. Over the past 18 months, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory has been responding to these overlapping concerns by developing Australia’s newest industry-recognised environmental health degree.
In February 2004, the first cohort was admitted into a Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Health) program. The program aims to bring capacity building, community development, and environmental health, within an appropriate career structure, together formally. Program designers worked closely with the Australian Institute of Environmental Health, Territory Health Services and other training and employment stakeholders to develop a program that both meets national professional accreditation requirements and serves the specific needs of environmental health practitioners for Indigenous community settings.
This paper briefly outlines the history of the Batchelor Institute as an established site for Indigenous environmental health learning and explains how the new degree was developed as part of its natural growth and expansion of training scope, in line with the needs of Indigenous practitioner needs. The presentation takes a close look at the structure and content of the program. It illustrates how units in this newest national environmental health degree focus on:
- environmental health infrastructure
- housing and construction
- public health risk management
- sustainable development
- community capacity building
- project planning
- legislative requirements for effective practice in any Australian jurisdiction.
The paper concludes with a call for conference participants to look to the future and consider their professional and career development desires and opportunities. The aim here is not only to secure individual career improvements, but also to raise the overall number and influence of Indigenous professionals in the environmental health field. It is through development of such a strong and effective critical mass that we will ultimately see the necessary policy, resourcing, legislative and operational shifts that are needed to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
For further information
Lecturer, Environmental Health, Batchelor
Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education
School of Health & Sciences
c/- Post Office, Batchelor, Northern Territory 0845
Phone: 08 8939 7419
Fax: 08 8939 7123