Environmental health master tackles shortage

The growing field of environmental health has received a boost, with Flinders’ Master of Environmental Health program receiving accreditation from Australia’s environmental health organisation Environmental Health Australia (EHA), making it the only university in the nation to offer an accredited master in the in-demand discipline.

Flinders now has two fully accredited postgraduate programs – including its Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health – both enabling graduates to practice as environmental health officers, which are some of the hardest roles to fill in Australia.

Business Insider reported late last year that environmental health officers ranked number one in the top 20 hardest roles to fill in the nation, with 48% of jobs remaining vacant after 60 days.

Just nine universities across Australia offer accredited programs in environmental health and only three offer postgraduate studies.

Environmental Health students learn about ... including the frameworks employed in maintaining safe food. Photo: iStock.
Environmental Health students learn about the physical, biological, chemical and sociological factors external to us that determine our health and wellbeing; including the frameworks employed in maintaining safe food. Photo: iStock.

Dr Kirstin Ross, Course Coordinator for Flinders’ Graduate Diploma of Environmental Health Practice and its Master of Environmental Health, says the EHA accreditation “confirms the rigour of these world-class programs”.

“Being accredited by Environmental Health Australia in a field that has such high demand, means students can be confident about their employment prospects in Australia and will also graduate with globally recognised skills through Flinders University’s membership of the International Federation of Environmental Health,” she says.

Vince Stephens, President of EHA, says the compulsory work-integrated learning components of accredited courses produce graduates that are job ready.

“Only environmental health officers who have completed an EHA accredited course are qualified to work as an environmental health officer,” Mr Stephens says.

From left to right: Professor Howard Fallowfield, Dr Harriet Whiley and Dr Kirstin Ross, who lead the Environmental Health programs at Flinders University.

Dawaleia Norris is currently in the first year of the Master program at Flinders. An international student from Papua New Guinea on an Australia Awards scholarship, Ms Norris is taking study-leave from her role as an environmental health officer and has found the program’s content to be extremely current and valuable.

“The things we are learning about are very applicable to the workplace and there is a lot of support for students,” Ms Norris says.

A growth area, environmental health focuses on how the environment impacts on human health including all aspects of the natural and built environment that effect health such as water, food, air, buildings and waste.

The two accredited postgraduate programs at Flinders University are delivered online to offer maximum flexibility, and offered as part or full-time options.

Both programs are currently open for mid-year entry through the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC.)

Dr Ross says: “With the high demand for environmental health officers, these programs are particularly appropriate for qualified scientists who have been unable to find work after completing their degrees.”


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