Our public health units
The Western NSW Local Health District Public Health Unit (PHU) works across the Western NSW Local Health District and the Far West Local Health District to deliver health protection programs to people living in communities within our region. The three branches of the PHU are located at Bathurst and Dubbo in Western NSW and at Broken Hill in the Far West, with staff also located in Orange and Brewarrina and working remotely from other locations.
The PHU delivers services and programs designed to protect the health of the population living in Far West and Western NSW and align to the shared vision of healthier rural people, thriving communities.
The role of the PHU is to identify, prevent and minimise public health risks to the community in accordance with the NSW Public Health Act 2010. These risks may be infectious, biological, chemical, or radiological in nature. They may be caused by other humans, by animals, and by the natural and built environments.
Public health staff work closely with the NSW Ministry of Health, general practitioners (GPs), community nurses, Aboriginal Medical Services, and hospital-based clinicians, Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF), pathology laboratories, schools and childcare centres, local councils, industry and business, other government agencies, and the community.
We provide advice and education, and enforce public health legislation such as the Public Health Act 2010, the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 and the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000.
Contact one of the following Public Health Units or call 1300 066 055 to contact any public health unit in NSW.
Our Environmental Health Services monitor and investigate environmental health issues in our local communities, including:
- Water quality – safe drinking water, the recreational use of water and public swimming pools
- Tobacco regulation – smoke-free areas, tobacco advertising and point of sale regulation and the sale of tobacco products to minors
- Industries – skin penetration industries, funeral industry and sex industry
- Arbovirus control
- Environmental toxicology
- Microbial control, for example Legionella testing
- Aboriginal environmental health – Housing for Health and Water Program.
To help keep our communities safe, we work in partnership with NSW Health, NSW Office of Water, NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the District Emergency Management Committee, Health Intelligence Unit, local government agencies and a variety of Non-Government Organisations such as Red Cross and Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
You can contact Environmental Health Services on 1300 066 055, or visit NSW Health, for more information.
There are 79 public drinking water supply systems managed by 28 water utilities in Western and Far Western NSW LHDs. Each water utility must develop and follow a risk-based Drinking Water Management Systems. As a part of the NSW Health Drinking Water Monitoring Program each water utility is required to submit a pre-determined number of water samples for testing. The number of samples for each utility is proportional to the size of the population and the area supplied.
For the year 2022, there were a total of 3,866 of microbiological tests with 20 failed tests (0.5%). These failed tests may have resulted in a boil water alert. In 2022, there were 14 boil water alerts which occurred and may have been as a result of storm events, changes in source water, reservoir breaches, failures of the treatment process and repairs to the reticulation system. Boil water alerts could also be initiated by a critical control point (CCP) exceedance in relation to treatment failure.
Chemistry samples are also allocated to water utilities under the NSW Health Drinking Water Monitoring Program to allow for testing of the physical and chemical characteristics of their drinking water supply. The PHU monitors the test results for compliance with both aesthetic and health-related guideline values and where they are exceeded, considers health related characteristics first and then aesthetic characteristics. All of the above is actioned by the Environmental Health Team according to the NSW Health Response Protocol.
The NSW Arbovirus Surveillance and Mosquito Monitoring Program (ASMMP) is designed to act as an early warning system for the environmental circulation of arthropod-borne viral (arbovirus) diseases such as Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV), Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus (MVEV), Kunjin virus (KUNV), Sindbis Virus (SINV) and Ross River Virus (RRV).
The ASMMP is undertaken from spring to autumn of each year, for the purpose of monitoring for the presence of arboviruses in the environment through the trapping of mosquitoes for virus isolation, species type and abundance and the detection of arbovirus antibodies in sentinel chicken flocks. This occurs in defined geographical areas that include three sites in the FWLHD communities of Balranald, Menindee and Wilcannia and four sites in the WNSWLHD communities of Bourke, Cowra, Forbes, Macquarie Marshes and Walgett.
The tobacco compliance officer is responsible for the monitoring, education and enforcement of compliance local businesses with the Smoke-Free Act 2000, the Public Health Tobacco Act 2002 and Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutical goods act 2022. Due to an increase in complaints and intelligence regarding the illicit sales of non-compliant vapes and tobacco products across our LHDs the Tobacco Compliance Officer and Authorised Environmental Health Officers have focused on inspecting these identified businesses during 2022. With the assistance of local Police Officers and Sydney located colleagues from the Tobacco Enforcement Unit, our team completed over 20 site inspections and seized approximately $280,000 retail worth of illicit tobacco/vape products during 2022.
Housing for Health
The environment in which we live can affect our health and improved housing conditions means improved health. The NSW Health Housing for Health Program aims to improve the health of Aboriginal people and communities in which they live by improving their living conditions. The Program uses a licenced ‘Survey and Fix’ process, developed by Healthabitat, to identify and repair items around the home that will give the best health outcome, particularly for children under five years old.
In 2022, the Program was run in:
- 4 WNSWLHD communities of Dubbo, Gilgandra, Peak Hill and Quambone,
- 1 FWLHD community of Ivanhoe.
The Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewage Program
The Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program (ACWSP) is a $200 million award-winning initiative aimed at ensuring the level of these services provided to eligible communities is of equivalent standard to nearby non-Indigenous towns. The program began in December 2008 and is a joint initiative of the NSW Government and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC). Well-managed water and sewerage systems reduce the risk of diarrhoeal disease for communities, as well as respiratory and skin infections, resulting in better health outcomes.
The ACWSP provides ongoing support for service delivery, ensuring water and sewerage services continue to be operated and maintained at levels consistent with nearby non-Indigenous communities.
The PHU plays an important role, monitoring health standards for water and sewerage systems in the 20 communities involved in the Far West and Western LHDs. Regular meetings are held with Aboriginal community members, local Aboriginal land councils (LALC), local water utilities and the PHU to understand what’s needed to improve the existing infrastructure and service levels.
Immunisation and vaccination
Immunisation is one of the most effective and cost-efficient public health measures for the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Western NSW LHD immunisation service conducts and supports a variety of vaccination programs across Western NSW each year. These programs include:
- early childhood and council clinics for children aged 0-5 years
- Aboriginal Immunisation Program
- school-based Adolescent Vaccination Program
- Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccination program for people 50 year and older age group
- travel medicine enquiries
- occupational health vaccine enquiries
- protecting newborn babies from whooping cough with the vaccination of pregnant women
- Neonatal Hepatitis B Vaccination Program.
Programs are conducted in partnership with the Early Childhood Program, the Western NSW Primary Health Network, the education sector, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Aboriginal Health Services and local government.
For more information about our immunisation services please contact the Public Health Unit.
For more information please visit NSW Health Immunisation or the Department of Health and Aged Care: Immunise Australia Program.
Communicable diseases and notifiable conditions
The public health team undertakes a range of activities related to the surveillance, investigation and control of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Notifications of specific notifiable conditions are received from doctors, laboratories, hospitals, schools and childcare centres. The team also provides support and advice about non-notifiable diseases that may pose significant risks to public health.
Notification of diseases is very important, as it allows our staff to work with other health workers to ensure appropriate public health measures are taken, preventing further spread of disease, and to identify a disease source.
The Communicable Disease Team are responsible for the monitoring, investigation and control of diseases notifiable to the PHU under the NSW Public Health Act 2010 and provide are grouped into eight categories:
• Blood borne viruses
• Enteric diseases (infections transmitted orally through food and water).
• Respiratory diseases (infections of the airways and lungs)
• Sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
• Vaccine preventable diseases
• Vector borne diseases (infections transmitted by insects such as mosquitoes and ticks).
• Zoonotic diseases (infections transmitted from animals to humans)
• Others (diseases that are notifiable but not classifiable under the above conditions, such as invasive group A streptococcus).
In 2022, there were a total of 134,629* notifications to the PHU. Of these, respiratory diseases were the leading type of notified condition, with a total of 131,856 notifications or 98% of all notifications for the year. STIs were the second leading type of notified conditions (n=1091) or 0.8% of all notifications. Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) was the most notified disease (n=126,190).
Needle and syringe program (NSP)
We provide a range of outlets under the NSW needle and syringe program, to help reduce the spread of blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis C and HIV among people who inject drugs and the wider community. Sterile injecting equipment and community sharps disposal is available at all LHD sites.
We also offer Blood-Borne Virus and Needle and Syringe program education sessions to community groups, schools, youth services and Non-Government Organisations. This helps to raise awareness of safer sex, injecting practices and the importance of regular screening/testing to maintain good health and builds local capacity and increases awareness of the most up-to-date, evidence-based information and available services, especially in our more rural and remote communities.
No referral is necessary.
|Bathurst, Blayney, Canowindra, Condobolin, Cowra, Eugowra, Forbes, Grenfell, Molong, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Peak Hill, Rylstone, Tottenham, Trundle, Tullamore
96 Kite Street
|(02) 6393 4800
|Baradine, Binnaway, Bourke, Brewarrina, Carinda, Cobar, Collarenebri, Coolah, Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Dubbo, Dunedoo, Enngonia, Gilgandra, Gongolgon, Goodooga, Gulargambone, Gulgong, Lightning Ridge, Louth, Mudgee, Narromine, Nyngan, Tilpa, Trangie, Walgett, Wanaaring, Warren, Weilmoringle, Wellington
203 Brisbane Street
|(02) 6809 7300
Find your nearest outlet and read more about these services at NSW Needle and Syringe Program.
To find out more about community sharps management, including what to do if you find a needle or syringe visit Community sharps management.
Tuberculosis (TB) can damage a person’s lungs or other parts of the body and cause serious illness. Healthcare providers are encouraged to refer anyone with signs and/or symptoms of TB for specialist consultation.
Free treatment of TB is accessed through our services and regular TB testing clinics are held at Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange. Specialist TB clinicians are available to work with your doctor and other healthcare providers.
Contact one of our Public Health Unit's for more information.