The purpose of this
document is to assist local government sport, recreation and community
sector professionals to better articulate the contribution their
work makes to health promotion and the achievement of better
public health outcomes.
The current Health Act in Western
Australia was enacted in 1911. Since that time, our collective
understanding of public health has changed significantly.
In the 1911 Act, attention was paid to the regulation of sanitation, housing standards, food safety,
nuisance and offensive industries, the spread of infectious disease and the provision of primary health
care services (access to medical, hospital and clinical services). All of the regulatory services outlined
in the 1911 Act remain relevant – though may be delivered somewhat differently now, with many
amendments made to the Act over the past one hundred years.
In 2014, a new Public Health Bill was introduced to the Western
Australian Parliament. The development of the Bill is a major public
health initiative and regulatory reform project for Western Australia.
The new bill contains several objectives that relate to health
promotion, preventive health and social equity. These include:
As outlined in the Public Health Bill 2014, local government will continue to play a significant role in
enabling public health outcomes to be achieved. The functions of local government include:
This expectation is supported by the Western Australian Local Government Act 1995 which requires
local governments to play an active role in meeting the social, economic and environmental needs of
In a guide to developing a local government public health plan
published by the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia,
it is stated that a Public Health Plan should: Build on past experiences
and have a balance of strategies that address the more traditional
public health risks and legislative requirements with the emerging areas
of and roles within the
social health and chronic disease management strategies that promote
This new direction in planning for health calls for a more integrated
approach to provision of facilities,
programs and services to address chronic disease, mental health issues
and social isolation in our
communities. No one discipline is responsible for the health of a
community and there is a need to clearly define level of responsibility,
expected actions and outcomes. To achieve this, we need to work
Local government in Western Australia plays a significant role in all areas across the health spectrum.
Unlike environmental health services, there is no legislative obligation for local governments to provide
lifestyle services such as sport and recreation services, libraries and arts events, improve living standards
through enhanced neighbourhood amenity, protect the natural environment or consider impacts on
As a result much of what is provided by local government for community benefit is discretionary, with
many social facilities and services contributing to community wellbeing and preventive health outcomes
in meaningful ways. Without access to programs and services, and facilities and infrastructure for sport,
recreation and community, our lives would be poorer and our health status lessened.
Apart from the well-documented benefits of participation in physical activity through sport and
recreation, our lives are enriched through social interaction, connection to our community, and
involvement in cultural and artistic events.
If we are to plan effectively for public health, the role of the sport, recreation and community sector in
protecting and promoting physical, mental and general community health needs to be recognised and
incorporated into strategic health planning.
The purpose of this document is to assist local government sport, recreation and community
sector professionals to better articulate the contribution their work makes to health promotion and
achievement of better public health outcomes.
The document itself is presented in several sections:
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