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Environmental Health Needs Survey (EHNS) Report 2008

A survey of discrete Aboriginal communities during late 2007 and through 2008 has been jointly funded by the Environmental Health Coordinating Committee (EHNCC), the peak coordinating body in Aboriginal environmental health in WA. The survey results form the basis for the 2008 report on Environmental Health Needs of Aboriginal Communities in WA.

Environmental Health Needs Survey (EHNS) 2008 Report (PDF 4.2MB)

The format of the 2008 report closely reflect the format of the previous 1997 and 2004 reports published by the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA). The 1997 and 2004 EHNS reports are available from the website of the DIA (External link)

The survey was undertaken with the valued assistance of Environmental Health Officers and Aboriginal Environmental Health Workers employed by local governments, Indigenous organisations and Public Health Units.


The purpose of this survey is to update and obtain current information on discrete Aboriginal Communities.

The EHNCC membership comprised of infrastructure, service and workforce funding agencies from State, Commonwealth and local government and includes:

  • the Department of Indigenous Affairs
  • the Department of Health
  • the Department of Housing
  • the Department of Local Government
  • the Commonwealth Departments of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and Health and Ageing (DoHA), and
  • the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA).

These agencies pooled their resources to streamline surveys and improve coordination across the three levels of government in response to environmental health needs in Aboriginal communities.

The key objectives of the survey were to:

    • Collect accurate, reliable and shared data source on environmental health needs across the State in order to assess relative needs and to inform resource allocation
    • promote effective coordination between government agencies and service providers
    • monitor and report on progress in addressing need and
    • Inform policy, program and budget development

Major findings of the 2008 EHNS

The 2008 EHNS Report analysed the survey results of 232 remote and town based Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

Since 1997, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of WA’s Aboriginal community population whose water, electricity and sewerage are provided for by either mainstream utility arrangements or via the RAESP program:

  • Water - increase from 76% in 1997 to 90% in 2008.
  • Electricity - increase from 76% in 1997 to 91% in 2008.
  • Sanitation - increase from 69% in 1997 to 82% in 2008.

There has also been a significant increase in the provision of some of the municipal services:

  • Appropriate rubbish disposal services – increase from 29% in 1997 to 61% in 2008.
  • Dog programs - 78% in 1997 to 93% in 2008.

Otherwise, there has been little or no increase in the proportion that live in communities that have a dust suppression program or are sufficiently prepared for prevailing hazards (cyclones/bushfires):

  • Dust programs - 35% in 1997 and in 2008.
  • Prone to bushfires and have fire fighting equipment – from 32% in 2004 to 34% in 2008.
  • Prone to cyclones and have evacuation plans – 41% in 1997 and in 2008.

The proportion of the population in communities with satisfactory managed services have increased as follows:

  • Water – from 69% of the population satisfied in 1997 to 77% in 2008.
  • Electricity – from 60% of the population satisfied in 1997 to 80% in 2008.
  • Sanitation – from 31% of the population satisfied in 1997 to 80% in 2008.
  • Solid Waste – from 32% of the population living in communities with no or low litter levels in 1997 to 80% in 2008.
  • Dust – from 16% of the population living in communities with no or low dust levels in 1997 to 33% in 2008.
  • Emergency Management – from 13% of the population living in communities that have members trained in emergency management in 2004 to 25% in 2008.
  • Housing – from a density of 7.0 people per permanent dwelling in 1997 to 5.3 in 2008.

Core indicators of  Environmental Health

The 2008 Report provides analysis on the 8 core environmental health indicators of:

    1. Water
    2. Electricity
    3. Housing
    4. Solid Waste Disposal
    5. Sanitation
    6. Dust
    7. Dog Health programs
    8. Emergency Management

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