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The aim of this project is to improve communication between a local Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) and a team of Environmental health workers (EHWs) so that unhealthy living conditions in homes in Kununurra can be quickly fixed to stop the transmission of infectious diseases.
The project is run by the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS) and the environmental health team at the Kimberley Population Health Unit (KPHU). The project aims to stop the transmission of infectious diseases such as:
As a key part of the project, an environmental health referral form has been designed for use by medical staff and EHWs. This referral form is filled out by medical staff when they suspect that a patient's presenting disease is caused by an environmental health problem that should be investigated by an EHW. The referral form collects:
The form is then passed to an EHW, who makes contact with the patient's family and inspects the home's household plumbing and septic systems for failing infrastructure. The EHW also uses this visit to provide some basic education about household maintenance and hygiene practices.
After leaving the home, the EHW reports any faults to the appropriate agency, determines a follow-up date and completes the referral form, identifying all actions taken.
This referral system has developed into a strong community education tool which has given families and individuals an awareness of how their home and surrounding environment impacts on their health. The program is expanding to include other agencies in the Kimberley region in WA, and is featured in the first edition of The West Australian Indigenous storybook (links below).
Abstract adapted from the West Australian Indigenous storybook
Kununurra Population Health Unit
WA Department of Health
PO Box 365
Kununurra WA 6743
Ph: (08) 9168 2498
Fax: (08) 9168 2524