A tool for calculating minimum Local Government Environmental Health Officer resourcing levels in Queensland.
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In recognition of local government skill shortages the ‘Local Government Skills Formation Strategy’ was funded by DETA from 2007 to 2009. In Queensland this project was coordinated by the LGAQ with Sub-committees set up to target four key occupations: Town planners, Building Certifiers, Engineers and Environmental Health Officers (EHOs). The Environmental Health Sub-committee conducted a survey in 2007 to establish the scope and extent of the shortage. Amongst the findings was that 45% of Councils were reporting shortages and 36% of EHOs were seriously thinking of leaving the profession. The reasons for leaving included the lack of recognition and resourcing, and the lack of employer support and strategic direction, but more importantly EHOs cited increasing workloads. One action identified in the resulting Environmental Health Skilled workforce strategy was to ‘develop a tool to identify the numbers of EHOs required across the Qld Local Government sector …’. Members of the EH subcommittee and their organisations have maintained interest in pursuing the actions identified in the strategy. In 2011, through a small collaboration of environmental health professionals in Queensland and the LGAQ, and a grant from Griffith University’s School of Public Health, the sub-committee has developed a draft EHO predictive modelling tool. The tool aims to assist Councils to calculate the EHO workforce demand : defining service needs; and translating this into labour demand (National Public Health Partnership, 2004). The group first workshopped a list of services needed to meet legislated requirements of the Local Government Environmental Health service role in Queensland. This list of services forms the framework of the Modelling Tool. The group sought data from Councils to establish the average time an EHO spent on each service function. This “averaged" data was then incorporated into the Modelling Tool and forms the basis for calculating FTE requirements. This tool has been trialled and modified in response to comments and available data. It has been designed in excel for ease of use by councils. Data can also be aggregated to provide future projections of EHO demand across the state.
37th Environmental Health Australia National Conference program
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Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety