REFLECTION: EHO Trainee shares project reflection
Housing for Health projects are strengthened by the support and knowledge of Environment Health staff.
While Environmental health workers are on Housing for Health projects as team leaders and team members, they are also visiting other facilities and programs in the community providing support and investigating the benefit of any ‘value add’ projects alongside the Housing for Health program such as mirror installations, health and hygiene advocacy and teaching, pest and water management.
As a part of the 3 year Aboriginal Public Health Traineeship, trainees are asked to submit reflection reports in their portfolio of work in the field.
A NSW based trainee in his 3rd year of his traineeship recently joined a regional NSW Housing for Health project. He shared his project reflection with Healthabitat and gave permission to share it more broadly.
Daniel writes beautifully about his journey driving to the community and the power of the landscape. He talks of his time learning in the community working alongside community members and the lessons and renewed energy he came away with at the end of the project.
Healthabitat would like to share some snippets from Daniel’s reflection below (some people and place names have been omitted/changed for privacy):
Day 1 – Sunday
The drive was one of learning and reconnection. I listened to podcasts featuring prominent authors while passing through the valleys and over the ranges I explored in my youth. The roads were terrible, it was like driving on Swiss cheese … The spectacular waterfalls along the way, conveniently situated 1 [to] 2 km from the main road made this drive an adventure. Each time I stopped I was reminded of the power and beauty of the country. As the sun set I arrived … We discussed the scope of the project and got to know each other. It was an unexpected refreshing feeling connecting with new colleagues who share a passion for environmental health.
Day 2 – Monday
We sat in chairs that were spread out in the room [due to COVID-19 restrictions] and introduced ourselves. The Housing for Health Project Manager … delivered a presentation explaining the project and gave out training packs.
The team leaders then trained small groups in the art of assessing buildings in accordance with the sheets and healthy living practices. It was clear from the start there was so much experience in the room, it was quite humbling … [they] had it down to a fine art. It was great to connect with the … team and learn more about the country too. The teams then completed two houses in the afternoon, set up headquarters, listed supplies and considerations and planned for a big day 2.
Day 3 – Tuesday We split up into teams of four and went to work. One of the most important things I noticed was the consideration and respect afforded to tenants, the team leaders took the time to listen, to hear what was going on, what concerns people have and validate how they feel. The first house of the day had a massive hole in the roof and significant water damage. As such the team leader made a point of clearly communicating our scope of works and potential follow up works. They also identified things that are outside our scope and the responsibility of the housing provider.
We checked the bathroom, toilets and laundry to ensure hardware was operational, there were no leaks, the temperature of the water was within limits, drainage and ventilation was sufficient. All details were recorded on the sheets, just as we had [been] trained. We… identified a number of jobs for plumbers, electricians and pest management, and also completed a variety of small fixes ranging from light globes to new shower heads.
Day 5 – Thursday
In the afternoon I took the opportunity to connect with the … Health Centre, to identify if there is a health promotion presence at the hospital. I then met with… the Aboriginal support manager at the Community Care Centre and provided information relating to IPTAAS [Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme] and the … Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, where they are running Munch and Move and Good 4 kids programs.
While there I asked if a hygiene program would be beneficial for their community, they were very interested if we are able to provide support.
We packed up the kits and cleaned the hall back to the state we found it. The final count was 30 houses.
Day 6 – Friday
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for being invited to participate in this project. I feel a renewed sense of appreciation for the scale of our beautiful land and the fire in my belly has been refuelled, I can’t wait to help more people struggling in silence and their kids have access to healthy environments.