The new environmental health in australia: Failure to launch?

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Background: The New Environmental Health is an approach to environmental health adopted in 1999. The new approach was in response to emerging health risks from the pressures that development placed on the environment, climate change, and increasing vulnerabilities of local communities. The new approach heralded a change in perception and roles within environmental health. Twenty years on, it seems these changes have not been embraced by local government. Methods: To determine whether this was the case, we assessed the use of the term “environmental health” in local government annual reports, and where environmental health functions sit within the organisational structure of councils. Results: We found that the New Environmental Health has not been adopted by councils and environmental health relates solely to the delivery of statutory services and legislative compliance. Conclusions: One result of this is local environmental health practitioners, who constitute the major health protection capability of councils, are defined by the narrow legislative obligations imposed on councils. This represents a significant lost opportunity as public health is not protected in the way that was envisaged with the adoption of the New Environmental Health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1402
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Environmental health
  • New Environmental Health
  • Policy
  • Practice


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