Public health assessments

Part 7 of the Public Health Act 2016 provides for the implementation of public health assessments for proposals declared by the regulations to be assessable proposals.  

What is a public health assessment?

A public health assessment considers any public health risks or benefits that may result from implementing an assessable proposal.

The Act defines a proposal as being a project, plan, programme, policy, operation, undertaking or development.

What proposals will be assessable?

The public health assessment regulations, which will be developed after stage 5 of implementation of the Act, will prescribe which proposals are assessable proposals. 

An assessable proposal will generally be one where there is an overlap between issues of planning and development, environmental protection and public health. An example of an assessable proposal could be a mining development. 

It is proposed that an assessment would be undertaken and compliment other existing approval processes such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (external site) managed by the Environmental Protection Authority of WA (external site).

When will a public health assessment regulation be developed?

A regulation under Part 7 can only be developed after stage 5 of the implementation of the Act.

What is the role of local government enforcement agencies in relation to public health assessments?

A local government’s role in relation to public health assessments is limited, unless the local government is the decision-making authority for the purposes of Part 7 of the Act. 

It is expected the proposals most likely to attract a public health assessment would be those requiring the involvement of a decision-making authority such as the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) or another Minister, rather than solely the local government’s approval.

The process for requiring and administering public health assessments is between the proponent of an assessable proposal, the decision-making authority and the Chief Health Officer.

Can a proposal that is not prescribed assessable be subject to a public health assessment?

Yes. The Minister has the power (section 62) to request the Chief Health Officer to conduct an inquiry under Part 15 of the Act into any proposal that if implemented, would likely have a significant effect on public health.

Last reviewed: 16-12-2020
Produced by

Environmental Health Directorate