Aboriginal health standards ‘third world’
© AAP 2011
Urgent changes are needed to improve the third world health standards among indigenous communities, the West Australian opposition says. Health Minister Kim Hames said in February that he would introduce a bill to amend the Public Health Act by the end of the year. But he told parliament on Tuesday that it was not urgent and may not be introduced until next year.
Opposition Health spokesman Roger Cook said improving Aboriginal public health should be a focus for the government. “The Health Department’s website said the current legislation, which is more than 100 years old, was ineffective at addressing Aboriginal environmental health issues and the exposure of indigenous people to disparate conditions affecting health,” he said. “Remote Aboriginal communities continue to be subject to poor community sewerage, lack of rubbish collection and problems with water supply, which contribute to poor health in these communities. “These loopholes that have allowed environmental health standards to remain at third world levels must be fixed as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Cook said there was no excuse for not introducing the bill, because it was already drafted and had been subject to extensive community consultation. The legislation would protect communities from diseases and other public health risks, encourage communities to maintain a healthy environment, provide for the prevention or early detection of diseases, and reduce health inequalities in the public health of disadvantaged communities.