Public health planning for local government

Part 5 of the Public Health Act 2016 requires the preparation of two types of public health plans:

  1. State public health plan prepared by the Chief Health Officer and
  2. Local public health plans prepared by each local government district

Part 5 of the Public Health Act will come into effect on 4 June 2024. This means that the Department of Health must prepare the State Public Health Plan within twelve months, and local governments must prepare their local public health plans within 24 months (2 years), of this date.

The Chief Health Officer produced the inaugural State Public Health Plan in 2018. An updated State Public Health Plan is being developed and will be released in accordance with the Public Health Act 2016.

A range of resources are available to provide practical advice on how to develop a local public health plan.  

Local governments are encouraged to work with their relevant Health Service Provider; North, South or East Metropolitan Health Service, or the WA Country Health Service, who can provide guidance early in the planning process. This includes the provision of specific health data for use in health profile reports.   

To receive updates on the Public Health Act as the legislation is progressively rolled out over the next 4 years please subscribe to the environmental health email updates (external site).

Frequently asked questions

Who is responsible for health?

According to the World Health Organization (external site), the factors that determine a person’s health are considered to be the conditions in which a person is born, grows up, lives, works and ages and in turn influences their opportunity to be healthy, their risk of illness and life expectancy. Influencing these determinants of health is considered to be a shared responsibility and is beyond the scope of any one agency or level of government.

State Governments, non-government agencies and local government each play a role in helping to support and drive improvements to the health and wellbeing of the WA population, be it at a state-wide or local community level.

The public health challenges of today requires the support, collaboration and innovative across all levels of government and health sectors to work together to create lasting improvements to the health of Western Australians.

The Public Health Act 2016 recognises this shared responsibility, and has embedded the requirement for public health planning (under Part 5 of the Public Health Act) at both a State Government and local government level. Establishing the legal requirement for public health planning is an important step in elevating the importance and commitment to public health across both tiers of government, and creates the opportunity to establish stronger partnerships that aim to influence the determinants of health in some way.

What is the purpose of public health planning?

The requirement for public health planning strengthens the need to better plan for public health and wellbeing by State and Local Government. It will also help to align the public health objectives and policy priorities of government more effectively, with the ultimate aim of making sure State and local governments are working in unison and directing resources targeting areas of greater public health need.

Public health planning is about taking a proactive approach to preventative health, with the focus being on achieving long-term public health outcomes through the planning process.

The intention is to support local governments to assess and ensure that their resources are used in the most appropriate and efficient way to address the public health needs of their local population rather than increase the number of services provided.

What is the role of the State Government and public health?

State government agencies are primarily responsible for state-wide development, coordination and delivery of a wide range of policies, programmes and services.

Although the Department of Health is considered to be one of the leading agencies who delivers hospitals and health services, as well as public health policies and programmes for Western Australians, there are a number of government agencies with a responsibility for providing policy support and services that lead to positive public health outcomes. This includes the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Department of Transport, Department of Education, and Mental Health Commission, to name a few.

Some of the key roles of State Government agencies are to:

  • establish laws governing specific public health risk activities which are enforced either at a State or local government level including legislation related to food handling and hygiene, asbestos management, pesticide safety, contaminated lands, tobacco control, public buildings and water management 
  • implement specific services for the community such as hospitals and aged care facilities 
  • provide policy advice to ministers and the community on a range of health related issues 
  • manage large infrastructure projects such as main roads or entertainment centres and 
  • develop state-wide programmes that target specific health behaviours such as the livelighter campaign, active transport, could I have it campaign and think mental health

What is the purpose of the State Public Health Plan?

The Public Health Act 2016 requires the Chief Health Officer to prepare a public health plan that applies to the whole of the State. The State Plan must:

  • Identify the public health needs of the State
  • Include an examination of data relating to the health status and health determinants in the State
  • establish objectives and policy priorities for the promotion, improvement and protection of public health and the development and delivery of public health services
  • identify how, based on available evidence, the objectives and policy priorities are proposed to be achieved
  • describe how the Chief Health Officer proposes to work with local governments and other bodies to achieve these objectives and priorities
  • include a strategic framework for the identification, evaluation, and management of public health risks in the State

The Chief Health Officer released the inaugural State Public Health Plan in 2019. An updated State Public Health Plan is currently in development and will be released within 12 months of implementation of Part 5 of the Public Health Act 2016.

What is the role of local government in public health?

Local governments are often considered to be ‘closest to the people’ not only because of the range of services they provide to various local community groups, but also because of the effect of these services on community health and wellbeing. Collectively, these services impact on the determinants of health of residents.

The work of local government is varied, but it touches almost all areas of our day to day life – whether we live in cities, towns or country areas. Local government looks after a variety of programmes and services that all have a big impact on the communities health. These services generally include:

  • infrastructure and property services, including local roads, bridges, footpaths, drainage, waste collection and management
  • provision of recreation facilities, such as parks, sports fields and stadiums, golf courses, swimming pools, sport centres, halls, camping grounds and caravan parks
  • health services such as water and food inspection, immunisation services, toilet facilities, noise control and meat inspection and animal control
  • community services, such as child-care, aged care and accommodation, community care and welfare services
  • building services, including inspections, licensing, certification and enforcement
  • planning and development approval
  • administration of facilities, such as airports and aerodromes, ports and marinas, cemeteries, parking facilities and street parking
  • cultural facilities and services, such as libraries, art galleries and museums
  • water and sewerage services in some states, and
  • other services, such as abattoirs, sale-yards and group purchasing schemes.

Improving public health requires recognition within local government of exactly what health services and assets are delivered and what public health outcomes are being achieved.

What is the purpose of a Local Public Health Plan?

The Public Health Act requires each local government to produce a public health plan that applies to its local district.

A local plan must be consistent with the State Public Health Plan whilst responding to local public health risks. The plan must:

  • identify the public health needs of the local government district 
  • include an examination of data relating to health status and health determinants in the local government district
  • establish objectives and policy priorities for the promotion and protection of public health in the local government district
  • describe the development and delivery of public health services in the local government district and
  • include a report on the local government’s performance of its functions under the Act

What is meant by being consistent with the State Public Health Plan?

The State Public Health Plan will identify the objectives and policy priorities for the State, and thereby provide a framework for local government to consider and adapt as necessary to reflect the particular risks prevailing in its district.

The Local Public Health Plan must be consistent with the State Public Health Plan. Being “consistent” means that local governments should:

  • consider the objectives and policy priorities outlined in the State Public Health Plan to determine their relevance to the local district
  • determine what services, programmes and projects are or could be implemented at the local level to promote, improve and protect people, related to the objectives and policy priorities identified in the State Public Health Plan, that are applicable to the local district.

In some cases, the objectives and policy priorities in the State Public Health Plan may not be relevant. Local Governments are entitled to come to a decision that does not necessarily reflect one or more of the objectives and policy priorities in the State Public Health Plan, provided that local governments have considered them and are able to demonstrate how their conclusion was reached.

Given the specific requirement to consider the State Public Health Plan, it is recommended that the reasons for making decisions (which could be subject to review or public scrutiny) are clear and able to be demonstrated. In particular, decision makers should be able to show that the local government considered the various objectives and policy priorities where relevant, and outline reasons for the decision not to include in the Local Public Health Plan e.g. why they may not be applicable to the local district.

When deciding on what objectives and policy priorities are applicable to the local district, information collected as part of section 45(4), which involves reviewing the health status and health determinants of the local district, will be relevant when deciding what priorities are applicable.

When must the first Local Public Health Plan be produced?

Part 5 of the Act provides for public health planning and will not come into effect until stage 5 of implementation. Once Part 5 is in effect each local government has two years to produce the first Local Plan.

WA Health is aware that many local governments are interested in developing their Local Plans before Part 5 comes into effect and is highly supportive of this.

To support this process the Chief Health Officer has released the State Public Health Plan.

There is no specific planning process that must be followed when developing a public health plan, or a one size fits all template. This ensures that local government is provided the flexibility and autonomy needed to develop individualise plans.

Local government can utilise any method that suits their needs in order to achieve the requirements of the Act.

Will public health plans impose onerous obligations on local government?

To minimise the number of separate planning processes required of local government, Local Plans may be integrated with the existing planning processes under the Local Government Act 1995.

To support the development of the plans, the Department of Local Government and Communities (external site)  has developed the Local Government Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework (external site) and a range of other tools and resources.

The Department of Health encourages local government to incorporate public health planning using this established framework.

Who is responsible for developing the Local Public Health Plan?

The task of whom is responsible for developing the plan is at the discretion of each local government. The Public Health Act does not specify any specific skills or qualifications that are needed to develop the plan.

Local governments can allocate the task of developing the local plan to any person. This may include:

  • allocating the task to existing staff such as authorised officers or any other person with the skills and knowledge of public health and strategic planning
  • establish a steering committee of relevant stakeholders to guide the process. This could include councillors, with other representatives from the community, business and government agencies to provide input as required or
  • engaging a consultant.
Public health planning resources

WA Health has produced two guidelines that are available to assist local governments to understand their role in helping to influence the determinants of health and to help get started in developing a local public health plan. 

Public health planning guide

  1. Public Health Planning Guide for Local Government - Public and Aboriginal Health Division: March 2018 (PDF 3MB) summarises key provisions of the Public Health Act 2016 related to Part 5 (public health planning), and aims to provide practical advice to support people who are responsible for commencing the development of a local public health plan.
  2. The Pathway to a Healthy Community – A Guide for Councillors and Local Government, South Metropolitan Public Health Planning Guide: Second Edition (PDF 1.86MB) aims to assist Councillors and local government staff to understand their role in influencing the determinants of health and preparing a local public health planning that results in healthier communities. 

Local government funding opportunities

Local government resources 

Overweight, obesity, smoking, alcohol, skin cancer


Mental health, wellbeing and alcohol use

Community evaluation framework

Partner agencies - list of non-government organisations, programs and support services

Partner with your Health Service Provider

Local governments are encouraged to contact your local Population Health Unit, of the relevant Health Service Provider, for support and guidance with the public health planning process.

The Roles and responsibilities for the provision of public health planning support to local government (PDF 234kB) document formally outlines the roles and responsibilities of each Health Service Provider:
  • North
  • South
  • East
  • WA Country Health Service
as well as the Department of Health when supporting and guiding local governments who initiate their public health plan in accordance with Part 5 of the Public Health Act 2016.
Health Service Local government map Email
North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS) NMHS map (PDF 500KB)
South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) SMHS map (PDF 500KB)
East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) EMHS map (PDF 500KB)
WA Country Health Services (WACHS) WACHS map (PDF 500KB) South West
Great Southern

Population Health Units work closely with local government in the primary prevention of chronic disease through education, community improvement and development with a focus on healthy eating, healthy weight, a more active WA, making smoking history and reducing harmful alcohol use.

Population Health Units help build the capacity of local government with a focus on organisational development, workforce development, resource allocation, leadership and partnerships to enable local government to effectively improve health and address the determinants of health through an integrated health promotion approach.

Examples of local government capacity building by Population Health Units include:

  • health and wellbeing policy development
  • public health planning including support in obtaining health status data to inform population scanning and community needs analysis 
  • local government health and wellbeing profile development
  • creating and advocating for environments that support healthy lifestyle choices
  • health grant and funding application support
  • community engagement, with a focus on vulnerable populations
  • health and wellbeing programs - planning and evaluation support.

Alternatively email

Requesting health data

As part of the public health planning process it is important to report on the health status and health determinants of the local population. This will enable you to document and gain a good understanding of the various public health risks and concerns of the local population.

Data can help to highlight and prioritise areas where health services, programs, projects and other activities may be needed, and can be used to monitor trends over time.

Requesting health data

Local governments can request health and well-being data that is available through the Department of Heatlh in two ways:

1. Contact your local Health Service Provider, Population Health Unit, who will coordinate the data request on your behalf

Local governments are encouraged to partner with your local Health Service Provider, who may be able to provide a range of additional support with the public health planning process. 

Health Service Provider Local government map Email
North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS) NMHS map (PDF 500KB)
South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) SMHS map (PDF 500KB)
East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) EMHS map (PDF 500KB)
WA Country Health Service (WACHS) WACHS map (PDF 500KB) South West
Great Southern

2. Contact the Epidemiology Branch directly and submit a data request form

Please note data is available for free if you're employed by a local government. A fee will be charged for external clients, including consultants, who make a data request on behalf of local government. Only one request should be made per local government. 

Data typically available from WA Health may include:

  • Hospital separations 
  • Population survey data 
  • Population estimates and projections
  • Cancer incidence and mortality
  • Infectious disease notifications
  • Burden of disease
  • Deaths
  • Boundaries / roads / facility location
  • Birth notifications
  • Mental health occasions of service
  • Childhood immunisations
  • Emergency department presentations

It is important to note that local government can include data in addition to the data provided by the Department of Health, within their health status profiles. 

Collecting and reviewing data involves partnerships with numerous government and non-government agencies. Refer to the section on other data sources for more information.

The Department of Health is responsible for the collection and analysis of a wide range of population health data for WA. Local governments can access this information for free to support the development of a local health profile. 

Other data sources

Currently the range of health data to be reported on as part of the health status profile is at the discretion of each local government.

It is the responsibility of local government to contact various organisations to access additional data that may be available to enhance local government health status profiling. Many local governments will also collect data internally that will be useful to include within a health profile report. This is why it is important to work across areas within your local government and partner with the right organisations from the start of the planning process. 

Federal Data available
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (external site)
  • Ageing, disability and carers
  • Families and children
  • Hospitals
  • Population groups
  • Risk factors, disease and death
Australian Bureau of Statistics (external site)
  • Economy
  • Environment and energy
  • Industry
  • Population / people
  • Labour
  • Health
  • Community Profiles
  • SEIFA index
Department of Human Services (external site)
  • Medicare statistics
  • Centrelink statistics
  • Child support statistics
Australian Health Policy Collaboration (external site)
  • Health Tracker
Data published by WA government (external site) The data toolkit is the place to find helpful guides on preparing, publishing, and using data.
Primary Health Networks (external site) The continuous development of the Needs Assessment and Activity Work Plans are key components of the PHN’s strategic commissioning activities.
Mental Health Commission WA (external site) Mental health data, alcohol and other drugs
Landgate (external site) Suburb in the spotlight profiles
WA Police (external site)
  • Crash statistics
  • Crime statistics
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (external site)
  • Environmentally sensitive areas
  • Air quality data
Bureau of Meteorology (external site) Severe weather events
Environmental Health Directorate
  • Communicbale Disease Control Directorate

Local government data

Local government should have access to in-house data that can be easily reported in a community health profile, including:

  • Environmental health 
  • Parks and public open space 
  • TravelSmart 
  • Aged accommodation 
  • Community and recreational facilities 
  • Community development 
  • Community events 
  • Community safety 
  • Cultural activities 
  • Disability services 
  • Hoarding and squalor
  • Home care services 
  • Library services 
  • Noise complaints
  • Ranger services 
  • Sanitation 
  • Volunteers 
  • Youth and family services
  • Building services 
  • Community facilities 
  • Footpaths 
  • Land use planning 
  • Roads and streetscapes 
  • Street and open space lighting 
  • Traffic management
List of WA local government public health plans

The Public Health Act requires all Public Health Plans to be made publicly available. 

Refer to individual local government websites to view their public health plans. 

Intergrated planning and reporting

All local governments are required to produce a plan for the future under section 5.56(1) of the Local Government Act 1995. The minimum requirement to meet the intent of the plan for the future is the development of a:

  1. Strategic Community Plan and a 
  2. Corporate Business Plan. 

To minimise the number of separate strategic planning processes required by local government, section 45(3) of the Public Health Act allows for a Local Public Health Plan to be integrated within the existing planning process required under the Local Government Act 1995 and Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996.

The Department of Health encourages local governments to incorporate public health planning into the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework (external site) as an informing strategy. Informing strategies (including financial, asset management and workforce) inform the local government of how capable it is to deliver the services and assets required by the community. Informing strategies allow a local government to set its priorities within its resourcing capability and deliver short term, medium term and long term community priorities and aspirations.

Integrated Planning and Reporting - Department of Local Government and Communities

Public health and wellbeing policies and programmes

Listed below are links to resources that may assist local government align with the objectives of the State Public Health Plan.  

Local government will have particular priorities and areas of interest, based on the needs of their communities.

Objective 1: Empowering and enabling people to make healthy lifestyle choices

Objective 2: Providing health protection for the community

Objective 3: Improving Aboriginal health

Partnerships - Health promotion inventory

Non-government health promotion agencies may have the capacity to provide support to local governments with specific program areas.

Refer to the health promotion inventory for a range of WA health promotion services operating across the state. 

Funding and grants

The Public Health Act does not require any mandatory spending by local government. Therefore the delivery of any public health initiative, project or programs will be at the discretion of the local government, based on the public health needs and expectations of their local community.

There are a range of external grants and funding available to support local government to plan and implement specific projects that help to improve the health of West Australians. These grants are managed by various external agencies detailed below.


Healthway (external site) operates under the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation Act 2016.  Healthway’s role defined in the Act, is to “promote and facilitate in Western Australia good health and activities which encourage healthy lifestyles.” Healthway’s role is:

  • to fund activities related to the promotion of good health in general with particular emphasis on young people
  • to support sporting and arts activities which encourage healthy lifestyles and advance health promotion programmes
  • to provide grants to organisations engaged in health promotion programs
  • to fund research relevant to health promotion; and
  • to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of the performance of the Foundation in achieving health promotion activities.

Local governments are encouraged to check out the Healthway website (external site) and subscribe to the newsletter.

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

The Department of Local Government and Communities (external site) (DLGC) provides one-off grants to community sector organisations and local governments to plan and implement projects, events and initiatives that help to improve the lives of West Australians programs. This includes sporting and recreational grants (external site).


Applications for a Lotterywest grant (external site) can be made throughout the year. Generally it takes 3 months for applications submitted with all required information to go through the Lotterywest assessment and approval process. The process can take longer for applications which require additional information or further development from what’s been submitted. Please factor in the time needed for assessment and a decision when planning your event or project. There are a range of grant types which can be viewed on the Lotterywest website.

GrantsConnect - Federal government

GrantConnect (external site) provides centralised publication of forecast and current Australian Government grant opportunities and grants awarded.

Last reviewed: 08-03-2024
Produced by

Environmental Health Directorate