Aboriginal Environmental Health
NSW Health administers several Aboriginal Environmental Health programs across NSW including:
Housing for Health
The Housing for Health program undertakes repairs and maintenance of Aboriginal community housing with specific focus on improving safety and health for the residents in the homes. The program engages the community to assist in identifying required works and prioritises all work using evidence-based criteria called healthy living practices. Public health evidence clearly demonstrates a link between the high burden of infectious diseases due to poor living conditions, particularly affecting children, and chronic diseases in later life.
Aboriginal Environmental Health Officer Training Program
NSW Health established the Aboriginal Environmental Health Officer Training Program in 1997. The training program is the only one of its type in Australia and is a six-year program combining work placement and studying the Applied Science (Environmental Health) Degree at the University of Western Sydney. Since the program began the proportion of Aboriginal people in the NSW Health environmental health workforce has increased from 0 to 17%. We currently have a trainee, Toby Hannan, who is working his way through the program. In his first year he presented at the 13th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander conference in Darwin to an audience of more than 170 environmental health workers on the Aboriginal Support Officers’ role in the Public Health Unit.
Aboriginal EHO Training Program https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/aboriginal/training/Pages/default.aspx
Aboriginal Environmental Health Scholarship https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/aboriginal/Pages/scholarship.aspx
Toby Hannan | Aboriginal Environmental Health Officer Trainee
What is your story? I am a Wiradjuri man, born in Armidale NSW and grew up on the Central Coast. I am the Aboriginal Environmental Health Trainee at SES (South-Eastern Sydney) Public Health Unit. I began in June 2021, and in a little over a year have gained an enormous amount of workplace and life experiences that I will take into my career once I am a practicing EHO. I enjoy working with such an experienced team not only in Environmental Health but also in the Public Health Unit.
Favorite part of environmental health? The most enjoyable side of environmental health is the diversity that every day brings, one day testing pools, the next in a cemetery, or atop a roof inspecting a cooling tower during a Legionella investigation. However, I most enjoy the mosquito surveillance program, trapping and testing mosquitoes for arboviruses.
How did you find the Aboriginal Environmental Health Officer Trainee program? Before starting the traineeship, I was enrolled in a Public Health degree at Western Sydney University. A job for the traineeship program was advertised internally, I knew about Environmental Health but did not realize how diverse the field is and was immediately interested. I am studying a Bachelor of Science (environmental health) at Western Sydney University.
What is something that your colleagues do not know about you? I am training to hike Mount Kilimanjaro next year during my break from University in July. I am also looking forward to completing a marathon by the end of 2023.
To contact the Environmental Health team email us or phone (02) 9382 8333 during business hours.