To provide a flexible and proactive framework for the regulation of public health, the West Australian Parliament has passed the Public Health Act 2016 with the object ‘to protect, promote and improve the health and wellbeing of the public of Western Australia and to reduce the incidence of preventable illness, and for related purposes’.
The change is said to be necessary as the existing legislation, the Health Act 1911, is considered outdated, reactive (rather than proactive) and does not adequately deal with emerging and contemporary public health issues.
Important points to note:
- The Public Health Act 2016 will be implemented in a staged manner over the next 3 to 5 years under a 5 stage process. Stages 1 and 2 have commenced (as of September 2016). Stages 3-5 will commence on a date fixed by proclamation.
- The Health Act 1911 will continue in an amended form known as the Health (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1911. It will contain various matters relating to public health such as community health centres, child health and Mortality Committees.
- Most regulations made under the Health Act 1911 will be repealed, however, some will be retained or transitioned into the new Act.
- There will be four main types of enforcement options: infringement notices, improvement notices, enforcement orders and prosecution
- The penalties for those who create public health risks are significantly higher under the new legislation.
- A Chief Health Officer will be established to replace the existing Executive Director, Public Health.
Further information can be found here.