The topic I have chosen to discuss is the Public Health Act 2005. This ACT allows the protection and promotion of the States’ public Health. In this essay I will describe the jurisdiction, context and principles, recent amendments and intent of the law in promoting and protecting population health and safety. I will identify target/ population groups affected by the legislation. I will identify the main stakeholders involved in addressing the law and the reasons for either supporting or opposing it. Finally, I will discuss the implications of the legislation in protecting and improving the health and safety of the population.
Public Health Law Act 2005 delivers the basic protections necessary to protect public health through cooperation between the state government, local governments, health care providers and the community (Government Queensland, 2019). This is achieved by preventing, controlling, reducing and responding to risks of public health relation. (Government Queensland, 2019) In terms of context, the Act was the result of an extensive review of the previous Public Health Act 1937. This Act introduced `public health risk’, to aid with certain types of environmental health risks such as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, vermin infestations, and hazardous water or waste that was included in the Public Health Act 1937 (Queensland Bills Explanatory Notes, 2005) A recent amendment created 1st January 2018 was implemented to prevent and control the spread of infectious disease to children by legally disallowing child care facilities to accept unvaccinated children. (Government Queensland, 2019) Therefore this Act aided in the protection children and subsequently their families and broader communities from the spread of infectious disease/ illness.
I think the target groups affected by the legislation include; health care practitioners, local and state governments, and individuals and or community members of the public who have a vested interest in their health and the health of their families, friends and communities.
One main player in support of the Act would be health care practitioners as they work alongside the government to provide insight on areas of health that need to be addressed. By monitoring the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of primary health care services and relaying it back to the government to improve their legislation, this can directly impact them. For example, it can create a safer and more structured environment for them to work in. Legislation formalises certain aspects of the job that need to be defined with guidelines and structures, health organizations can therefore become universal and consistent. On a side note, health care practitioners can feel empowered knowing their insights are being heard and used to develop new legislation.
Community members are another main focus in addressing the law. Laws are created to better serve the population and if an issue arises that will have a direct implication to the population then the law needs to appropriate the issue. For example, the government needed to take legal action in response to COVID-19. The ACT allowed government to close public spaces such as playgrounds and outdoor fitness stations in the hopes of keeping the community safe (ACT Government, 2020)
When it comes to protecting and improving the health and safety of the population via legislation we would first need to evaluate the elected government. For example, a democratically elected government uses powers to protect and promote the health of the population. (Institute of Medicine (US) Committee , 2002)
An implication that may arise is the notion of common good. Has legislation allowed the community/ state interest to come before individual interest? Take the coronavirus outbreak as an example. On March the 22nd Scott Morison made the decision for Australia is close all non-essential services as coronavirus cases arose rapidly in the country (Doherty, 2020). Gyms, cinemas, pubs, places of worship all contribute significantly to the overall health and well-being of an individual. Gyms provide an area where individuals can let off steam and destress, an outlet for mental well-being as well as physical wellbeing to strengthen. Places of worship provide a space where the individual can discover their self-identity and belonging which is integral to their mental and social well- being. A complete state of health is more than just being free from disease or illness, it’s the linkage of all three social, mental and physical wellbeing (World Health Organization, 2020). When the government banned these places, he further isolated groups of people and this may have significant implications on the individuals state of mind. Also, what will happen to all the owners or workers of these businesses? Yes, the ban will prevent the onset and spread of covid-19 but many people will lose or have already lost their income and this may result in an economic recession. Rational thoughts and feelings of how they are going to pay the bills and fears of the unknown will create an environment where people aren’t working to the best of their abilities and therefore will have negative consequences throughout the country.
- ACT Government. (2020). Covid-19. Australia: ACT government.
- Doherty, B. (2020). Non-essential’ services: what do Australia’s latest coronavirus restrictions mean? Australia: The Guardian.
- Government Queensland. (2019). Public Health Act 2005. Brisbane: Queensland Government.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee . (2002). The Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century. Washington DC: National Academies Press.
- Queensland Bills Explanatory Notes. (2005). Public Health Act 2005. Australia: Austilii.
- World Health Organization. (2020). Constitution . Geneva: WHO.