Inadequate access to clean water is a major contributor to ill health in many remote Indigenous communities.
Inadequate access to clean water is a major contributor to ill health in many remote Indigenous communities.


Poor hygiene and unsanitary living conditions in remote Australian Aboriginal communities have contributed to children experiencing a higher rate of common infectious diseases than non-Aboriginal, urban communities (McDonald et al, 2008).

Additionally, Australia is positioned next to south-east Asia, where one billion people lack access to ‘improved sanitation facilities’ (toilets) (WHO and UNICEF, 2014). Half of the population in the Pacific Island countries have access to such facilities (WHO ROWP, 2008). Poverty in this region is a central concern, where death and disadvantage occur in part through lacking access to clean, safe water – which is a key intervention for primary health prevention (Cameron et al., 2011). The United Nations seeks to address this limitation to development in one of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, to be introduced in 2015, i.e. to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’ (UNDSD, 2015).

UQ’s Response

The UQ-led initiative on Water for Equality and Wellbeing will provide public and environmental health improvement through effective implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene and beyond, using Australian research expertise working in collaboration with on-ground and local partners. Research outcomes will include enhancement of water and wellbeing implementation in rural communities in Asia, the Pacific and remote Australia through examination of current best practices. This work will directly strengthen intercountry ties through development contribution, and build capacity of in-country water and wellbeing staff through skill-building workshops and short courses, in collaboration with the UQ-sponsored International Water Centre.

Join UQ to build capacity in water, sanitation and hygiene. (1.3 MB)

Researchers and projects on Water for Equality and Wellbeing.

discussion paper
Discussion Paper on Water for Equity and Wellbeing: ‘The UN Sustainable Development Goals for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: How Should Australia Respond Within and Beyond its Borders’ (July 2016).

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