PHAA urges investment in sustainable public health workforce

Wednesday, 31 August, 2022

PHAA urges investment in sustainable public health workforce

The Public Health Association of Australia has welcomed the focus of this week’s Job and Skills Summit and the opportunity to address public health workforce shortages, but urged investment in and action on the National Preventive Health Strategy to get the skills mix right.

“The health workforce is not just about those professionals who work in public hospitals within the health system,” PHAA CEO Adj Prof Terry Slevin said.

“The Public Health workforce focuses on population-wide programs to promote health and wellbeing, as well as prevent diseases and many other threats to health.

“If the government wants to use the job summit to help tackle the many challenges facing the country, such as climate change, inequity and disadvantage, and economic wellbeing, it needs to invest in a sustainable public health workforce to make that happen.”

PHAA has made several recommendations in its 2022–23 Budget submission, Better Health through an evidence informed Wellbeing Budget, to strengthen the public health workforce.

“The pandemic has highlighted the state of public health infrastructure and the need to bolster the public health workforce capacity and systems, both nationally and at state and territory level. Building of the public health workforce is a clear and vital priority that must be urgently addressed,” the submission said.

Recommendations include the development of a national public health workforce policy or plan that will strengthen public health and emergency capability in Australia, under the remit of the proposed Australian Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

A national Public Health Officer Training Program, like the program already provided in New South Wales, can be appropriately adapted to jurisdictional circumstances for immediate implementation by the Australian and state and territory governments.

“We cannot afford to ignore this category of specialist worker, who became so vital when the pandemic hit the fan,” Slevin concluded.

Image credit: Tan

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