Interim state public health plan

The Chief Health Officer of the Western Australian Department of Health released the First Interim State Public Health Plan (PDF 4.1MB) for consultation across WA between 15 July 2017 to 31 December 2017.

The purpose of the Interim Plan is to identify the public health needs of the State by examining available data on the health status and health determinants of the population. This information was used to establish objectives and public health priorities for:

  • the promotion, improvement and protection of public health and 
  • the development and delivery of public health services for the State 
The Interim Plan included:

Part 1: A health status report for Western Australians.
This section aims to examine public health trends in WA and identify areas of inequalities in particular population sub-groups and

Part 2: Objectives and policy priorities 2017 - 2021. 
This section outlines the proposed public health objectives and policy priorities for WA for the next 5 years.
  

Consultation process

People were invited to have their say on the Interim Plan through an online survey or by submitting a personalised response by email or post. 

Survey participants were asked a series of questions about their thoughts on the health status report and objectives and policy priorities outlined in the Interim Plan. 

A total of 63 responses were received from various stakeholder groups. Local government represented 33 per cent of responses received. There were 27 detailed submissions addressed directly to the CHO by email or post, with 36 responses received through the online survey. 

Key findings

Below is a summary of some key feedback received. 

Data

  • A number of submissions highlighted the absence of data and information around social, economic and environmental determinants of health and wellbeing and requested stronger links on how these determinants relate to health inequities and poorer health outcomes. 
  • It was suggested that, if possible, data needs to be presented by:
    • age group
    • Aboriginal status
    • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity status
    • region
    • other priority populations e.g. refugees, people with disability
  • Submissions also requested:
    • easier access to data and sharing of data across departments 
    • health profiles, preferably at the suburb or local government level, to be made available online 
    • a list of available data sources for local government to use when preparing their public health plans

Objectives and priorities

  • There was overall support for the three priorities identified in the Interim Plan, particularly the focus on Aboriginal Health.
  • Mental health was clearly identified across a number of submissions as the most notable omission. This was closely followed by drugs other than alcohol and tobacco, including use of illicit drugs and misuse of pharmaceuticals.

Partnerships and other suggestions

  • Overall, respondents were positive about the Interim Plan. However a number of submissions indicated that the Interim Plan should include:
    • Targets
    • Action plan
    • Tangible outcomes
    • Clarification on the types of evidence based programmes and initiatives that local government can implement at a local level to support the objectives and priorities 
    • Clarification on the role and expectation of State Government and Local Government when it relates to public health interventions.
  • A number of submissions discussed the need to develop WA centric health indicators in order to better measure progress on objectives implemented. 
  • Numerous respondents requested a list of health services, within the State that local government may seek to partner with.
  • Resourcing was identified as a concern of local government, particularly when there is uncertainty about what local government is expected to do to support the objectives and policy priorities. 
  • A number of submissions suggested further workshops or information, particularly targeting elected members and local government executives, to clarify roles and responsibilities relating to the local health plans and to dispel misinformation relating to ‘cost shifting’.

What next

The CHO will consider the feedback received and use it to inform the 2nd Interim State Public Health Plan. This process will involve:
  • Reviewing the health status report to include information on any new public health priorities or objectives and, where feasible, responding to other data-related suggestions raised in the submissions.
  • Partnering with mental health related bodies to discuss the potential inclusion of mental health in future State Public Health Plans.
  • Partnering with relevant agencies to address the potential inclusion of priorities related to use of illicit drugs use.
  • Ensuring that the Interim Plan incorporates:
    • Targets, where possible.
    • An action plan that identifies tangible and achievable outcomes.
    • Clarification on the types of programmes and initiatives that local government can implement at a local level to support the objectives and priorities. 
  • Develop information on:
    • what health services are available to support and partner with local government 
    • the role and expectation of State Government and Local Government when it relates to public health.

Thank you

WA Health would like to thank all agencies and individuals who took the time to provide a submission on The Interim Plan. 

A significant and detailed amount of feedback was received which reflects the wide support for preventative public health strategies. 

WA Health is committed to reviewing all feedback in detail and working with relevant bodies and groups in the revision of the Interim Plan.

The intention is to progress this work over the coming year with the aim to have a 2nd Interim Plan published for mid-2019. 

Although every effort will be made to address concerns raised during the consultation it is important to be mindful that the Interim Plan cannot address every issue raised.

Feedback

For any queries on the Interim State PH Plan please email publichealthact@health.wa.gov.au