Aboriginal environmental health program

Environmental health referrals

People's health can be affected by conditions in and around their living environment - especially by conditions in and around the home. Environmental health related illnesses are preventable if managed by functioning health hardware in the home and better knowledge about hygiene and health living practices.

Illnesses associated with environmental health include skin infections, parasitic skin infestations (scabies, headlice) as well as gastro-intestinal, respiratory, ear, nose and throat related infections. Repeated episodes of certain types of preventable infections in children can lead to chronic and irreversible health conditions in adulthood.

An environmental health referral is something that a clinician may consider offering a patient presenting at a clinic with a preventable contagious health condition. If the clinician believes that the person's home environment could be the cause of their illness, then a request for an environmental health referral can be offered, linking the patient to a local service.

The referral allows the environmental health service to connect with the patient and assess their home environment for health hardware function and any other issues contributing to the illness. It also allows for identified issues to be addressed in a timely manner.

Environmental health home assessment

The focus of the referral is to assist with identifying and remediating risks in the home and living environment that might be contributing to the presenting illness or disease. An environmental health assessment of the home environment may identify physical deficiencies that can be either repaired at the time of the environmental health assessment or referred to the housing maintenance provider to follow up. Other physical, hygiene and health promoting resources may also be provided by the responding Aboriginal Environmental Health service provider as well as health promotion or disease specific information. From a referring clinician and patient perspective, the environmental health response and final outcome will vary depending on the reason for the referral, the circumstances of each patient and their homes and the availability at the time of other resources not directly under the control or direction of the Aboriginal Environmental Health service provider.

The above process is now in place in many areas of remote Western Australia and plays a key role in preventative health in Aboriginal communities.

Other supporting resources that help explain what an EH referral is and what action it may generate

The following short videos provide an explanation of what an environmental health referral is, how or why it might be generated and what action may follow. These resources were developed with the participation of Bega Garnbirringu Aboriginal Medical Service, the Goldfields Public Health Unit and the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder as well as some other Aboriginal environmental health practitioners from around the state.

The purpose of the videos is to provide a broad description of the process. The scope and type of any response to a referral will vary around regional WA and this is reflective of the diversity and capacity of the many Aboriginal environmental health service providers responding to the referral. 

Each of the three videos have been developed with a different audience in mind - one for patients, one for clinicians and one for Aboriginal environmental health practitioners.

Environmental health referral templates

Digital version (for completing as a digital form):

Printable version (for written completion):

More information

Aboriginal Environmental Health Program
Phone: (08) 9222 2000
Email: ehinfo@health.wa.gov.au

Last reviewed: 10-07-2023