Public health

Public health is concerned with the big picture of how society is organised to maximise health and well-being - about what people can do for themselves as well as the role of institutions and government to ensure good health in our communities.

Our primary focus is prevention and early detection, rather than on clinical services. We look at the whole population, rather than the individual, and seek to manage risks. In this way, public health complements and works with clinical services.

In Western Australia, we are fortunate to enjoy a high standard of living and health. We use a range of evidence-based, targeted programs to keep our communities healthy including:

  • immunisation
  • safe food and water
  • safer workplaces and communities
  • seatbelts and other road safety measures
  • water fluoridation
  • organised cancer screening
  • sun safety campaigns
  • control of tobacco.


Under the Health Legislation Administration Act 1984, the Chief Health Officer (CHO) has the power to delegate any of his powers (except the power to delegate) which are conferred on him by a number of Health-related Acts for which he has responsibility.

In Western Australia there are numerous pieces of legislation that relate to public health which are regulated by the Department of Health. These include:

  • Anatomy Act 1930
  • Cremation Act 1929
  • Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1966
  • Public Health Act 2016 and the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 1911
  • Human Tissue and Transplant Act 1982
  • Liquor Control Act 1988
  • Radiation Safety Act 1975
  • The Food Act 2008.
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Public Health