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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Key references

References for the key publications about the physical environment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are listed here.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010)

State owned and managed Indigenous housing 2008-09.

Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Centre for Appropriate Technology (2010)

National Indigenous infrastructure guide.

Alice Springs: Centre for Appropriate Technology

This publication provides a framework to facilitate an understanding of the issues which arise in the provision of infrastructure for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The main focus of the guide is the installation and maintenance of infrastructure which is appropriate and sustainable for remote Indigenous communities. The importance of community in this process is highlighted in the guide.

The National Indigenous infrastructure guide complements the existing National Indigenous Housing Guide and the Environmental Health Handbooks. The guide provides information on:

  • existing research
  • codes and standards
  • resources
  • community infrastructure.

The guide was produced by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) with funding from the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Environmental Health Needs Coordinating Committee (2010)

Environmental health needs of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia: the 2008 survey and its findings.

Perth: Western Australian Department of Health, Public Health Division

The Western Australian Environmental health needs survey was conducted over 2007 and 2008 and is the third survey in a series which surveyed housing, services, utilities, community infrastructure and the immediate living environment in discrete Aboriginal communities in WA. Data collected related to over 15,000 residents from 232 communities. This publication reports the outcomes of this survey and provides a comparison with the outcomes of the 1997 and 2004 surveys.

The survey was conducted by environmental health practitioners who work with and in discrete Aboriginal communities. The practitioners visited the communities to survey existing infrastructure. Information was also collected about levels of community satisfaction and any concerns with the provision of essential, municipal and allied services which influenced and affected environmental health in the communities.

The core environmental health and infrastructure issues covered in the report were:

  • water
  • electricity
  • housing
  • solid waste disposal
  • sanitation
  • dust
  • dog health programs
  • emergency management

The report provides an evidence base which highlights the continued environmental health issues faced by many of the communities who participated in the survey. It is the foundation for the future direction of service plans and delivery in discrete communities.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009)

Indigenous housing indicators 2007–08.

Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Indigenous housing indicators 2007-08 provides data on Indigenous community housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing and on Indigenous access to mainstream housing programs. The information was collected from several sources to report against nationally agreed indicators, including:

  • tenure type
  • affordability of housing
  • rents collected and charged
  • dwelling condition
  • connection to services
  • overcrowding
  • recurrent and capital expenditure on Indigenous housing, and
  • homelessness.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009)

Indigenous housing needs 2009: a multi-measure needs model.

Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Grey-Gardner R (2009)

Community water planner field guide final report.

Alice Springs: The Centre for Appropriate Technology and Water Quality Research Australia

Jackson S (2009)

National Indigenous water planning forum: background paper on Indigenous participation in water planning and access to water.

Melbourne: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Porter R (2009)

Towards a hybrid model of public housing in Northern Territory remote Aboriginal communities?.

Alice Springs: Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre


Calma T (2008)

The importance of environmental health in improving the life expectancy of Indigenous people [speech].

Brisbane: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

This is a transcript of a speech delivered by Paul Endres on behalf of Commissioner Tom Calma at the International Federation of Environmental Health World Congress, Brisbane, 13 May 2008. It describes the importance of environmental health in improving the life expectancy of Indigenous peoples.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Grey-Gardner R (2008)

Remote community water management.

Alice Springs: Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre


Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities, International Fund for Animal Welfare (2007)

Conducting dog health programs in Indigenous communities: a veterinary guide.

Darwin: Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities

This manual contains practical information on establishing culturally appropriate and sustainable dog programs in Indigenous communities.

It is intended for use by veterinarians, environmental health workers, local government and organisations and individuals interested in the health and wellbeing of animals, their owners and their communities.

Topics covered include:

  • history and importance of dog programs
  • history and features of communities
  • key people and infrastructure
  • community development theories and planning
  • what to take, what to expect
  • zoonoses: myths and realities
  • commonly encountered parasites, diseases and other conditions
  • parasite control protocols
  • population control.

This is the only such guide currently available. The manual has been written by Dr Samantha Phelan, a Northern Territory-based veterinarian with significant field experience in remote Indigenous communities.

Please note that, although originally intended to cover all of northern Australia, the manual is largely centered on the history, legislation and veterinary work being conducted in the Northern Territory, with some reference to Queensland and Western Australia. 

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007)

Housing and infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Australia, 2006.

Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This report presents the results from the third Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS), held in 2006. The publication includes information relating to housing, such as current housing stock, dwelling management practices and some information about Indigenous organisations that provide housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The report also provides information about housing related infrastructure such as water, electricity, sewerage, drainage, and rubbish collection and disposal, as well as other facilities such as transport, communication, education, sport and health services, available in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Black A (2007)

Evidence of effective interventions to improve the social and environmental factors impacting on health: informing the development of Indigenous Community Agreements.

Barton, ACT: Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

This literature review summarises evidence of interventions that have shown to have positive impacts on selected social and environmental factors relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. It details research and evaluations of community programs in nutrition, early childhood, housing, sporting and cultural programs, employment, community services and alcohol use. Information provided will assist staff in Indigenous Coordination Centres in the development of Regional Partnership Agreements and Shared Reasonability Agreements.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Campbell D, Davies J, Wakerman J (2007)

Realising economies in the joint supply of health and environmental services in Aboriginal central Australia.

Alice Springs: Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre

Department of Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (2007)

National Indigenous housing guide: improving the living environment for safety, health and sustainability: third edition.

Canberra: Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The National Indigenous Housing Guide is a practical resource to support the planning and development of Indigenous housing in terms of design, construction and maintenance for remote communities.

The resource is divided into four parts including:

  • safety
  • health and housing
  • healthy communities, and
  • managing houses for safety and health.

It is useful for builders, trades people, housing workers, council members, architects, project managers, or government officials working in Indigenous affairs and housing.

The guide was developed by the Australian Government in partnership with communities, housing design consultants, builders, architects and health workers. It is supported by research and meets Australian building standards.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Ehsani JP, Bailie R (2007)

Feasibility and costs of water fluoridation in remote Australian Aboriginal communities.

BMC Public Health; (7): 100

Retrieved 8 June 2007 from

Emergency Management Australia (2007)

Keeping our mob safe: a national emergency management strategy for remote Indigenous communities.

Canberra: Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management

This report details a strategy intended to address emergency management in remote Indigenous Australian communities. The strategy, developed through extensive consultation with members of Indigenous communities, provides a framework for a coordinated and cooperative approach to all aspects of emergency management. Essentially the report includes seven priorities and lists specific goals and guiding actions to ensure the fulfillment of each priority.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

EnHealth Council (2007)

Report of the 6th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference, Cairns, Queensland, 2007.

Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing

This conference monograph was produced by the enHealth Working Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health (WGATSIEH), and details the proceedings of the 6th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference held at the Cairns Convention Centre in May 2007.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Bailie RS, Wayte KJ (2006)

Housing and health in Indigenous communities: key issues for housing and health improvement in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Australian Journal of Rural Health; 14(5): 178-183

Pleshet N (2006)

Viability analysis for desert settlement and economy.

Alice Springs: Desert Knowledge CRC

This paper builds on working paper 1: Value in and of desert Australia, and examines the relationship between population mobility and land transport systems, as part of an analysis of desert settlement sustainability. The author argues that this relationship is fundamental to economic activity in desert settlements. The paper contains information relating specifically to central Australia, and includes analyses of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mobility, data relating to vehicles and road maintenance, and data from studies of remote transport schemes.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Wayte K, Bailie R, Gray N, Henderson G (2004)

Framework for research on Aboriginal health and the physical environment: final report.

Darwin: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health

This is the final report of a Lowitja Institute research project about Indigenous health and the physical environment. The report includes a literature review summarising research in each area of the physical environment, such as housing, waste disposal, dog health, dust and food supply. The report finds that many of the interventions reported in the literature are not based on either good evidence or good knowledge of Indigenous peoples' perceptions and needs. This points to the importance of setting firm evidence-based research priorities, and further investigating Indigenous peoples' perceptions and needs in order to develop health strategies and actions.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Stephenson PM (2003)

Environmental health planning and action: a handbook for Indigenous practitioners.

Sydney: University of Western Sydney and Batchelor Press

This handbook was produced for community based Indigenous environmental health practitioners, stressing the importance of planning for action when dealing with major environmental health issues.

The handbook includes illustrations, case studies, worksheets and forms to help practitioners in their work. It can also be used as a training manual.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Nganampa Health Council Inc, South Australian Health Commission, Aboriginal Health Organisation of SA (1987)

Report of the Uwankara Palyanyku Kanyintjaku: an environmental and public health review within the Anangu Pitjantjatjara lands.

Adelaide: South Australian Health Commission, Aboriginal Health Organisation

In 1987, the Nganampa Health Council published an environmental health report called the 'UPK Report'. The report reached the conclusion that nine healthy living practices are necessary for improved health in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands. Between 1987 and 1990 UPK became regarded nationally as a yardstick for environmental intervention in Indigenous communities.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Last updated: 9 October 2015
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