Is there a link between the environment, health and chronic disease?
How can we work with and support Aboriginal Shire Councils to improve the health of their community?
Apunipima’s Healthy Communities Project Officer Tiffany Williams (left) and Queensland Health Associate Manager Prevention Division Dr Simone Nalatu have been investigating, and answering, these questions as part Apunipima’s Healthy Indigenous Communities Project.
Presenting at the 11th Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference in Cairns on 8 September, Tiffany and Simone discussed the links between environment and health, as well as ways in which remote Aboriginal Shire Councils and Environmental Health Workers could improve the local environment to promote water consumption and increase smoke free spaces.
The Project has engaged with Councils and community leaders to explore a range of supportive environment strategies to help reduce exposure to second hand smoke among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and decrease consumption of sugary drinks which lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
‘Local governments play a role in shaping local environments through their work in planning and development,’ Tiffany explained.
‘Working together at a community-level to promote and support water consumption could involve such activities as assessing and maintaining water quality, promoting water as safe for drinking to community members, providing education about the benefits of drinking water instead of sugary drinks and installing and maintaining infrastructure to encourage water consumption, for example a water bubbler to provide access to free, chilled drinking water.’
‘The Project has involved talking with Council, other stakeholders and community leaders about the smoking environment in their community, facilitating a Local Working Group to identify strategies to create more smoke free spaces, policies and events and development of Community Action Plans.’
The Healthy Communities Project team gratefully acknowledges the support and guidance provided by the Aboriginal Shire Councils, community leaders, and community members that they have been walking alongside to create supportive environments for health and wellbeing.