The physical, chemical and biological environment we live in affects our wellbeing. Making sure we have clean drinking water, good hygiene, effective pest and disease control, and good housing is important to our overall health. Find out what we’re doing to improve environmental health in Australia.
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Environmental health in Australia
In the last 100 years there has been major progress in environmental health, particularly through better sanitation and clean drinking water. This has increased our quality of life and made our lives longer. Environmental health in Australia is good compared to the rest of the world.
But things like remoteness, population growth and extreme weather events can put pressure on our environment. These changes can affect our access to clean water and food, expose us to different diseases and cause power outages.
We need to make sure we’re prepared for these changes so they don’t affect our health.
What we’re doing about environmental health
We work on policy and programs to improve Australia’s environmental health.
Working with states and territories, the Office of Health Protection coordinates environmental health advice to:
- the Minister for Health
- Australian Government and state and territory agencies
- the general community
This advice relates to water quality, air quality, National Environmental Protection Measures, climate change and other environmental health risks.
We also work to promote equal access to healthy environments for all Australians, particularly through our work with the Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth).
enHealth is a standing committee of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee under the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. It works to:
- provide advice about nationally agreed environmental health policy
- implement the National Environmental Health Strategy
- consult with key stakeholders
- develop and coordinate research, information and resources on environmental health
Health’s Office of Health Protection distributes enHealth publications.
Government agencies we work with
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) aims to protect Australians from radiation exposure, ensure emergency preparedness, promote effective use of ionising radiation in medicine and ensure appropriate regulation and enforcement activities
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) develops standards that regulate the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives, vitamins and minerals, composition of some foods and foods developed by new technologies.
Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR)
Administers the gene technology regulatory system. The regulator is responsible for protecting the health and safety of people and the environment by identifying and managing risks posed by, or as a result of gene technology and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) helps protect Australians and the environment by assessing the risks of industrial chemicals and providing information to promote their safe use
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority is the regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemical products in Australia.