Enforcement of public health legislation

The health of South Australians is protected by legislation that covers areas that include public health, food, water, controlled substances and tobacco.

Each piece of legislation, or Act, seeks to protect public health by having aims such as:

  • reducing the incident of illness and injury
  • preventing  the sale of unsafe food
  • ensuring the supply of safe drinking water
  • regulating the use of certain drugs
  • reducing the incidence of smoking

All of the Acts committed to the Minister for Health can be found on the legislation page.

Enforcement of the Acts is a shared responsibility between State and Local Government, with the goal to improve compliance with the legislation in South Australia, and therefore improve public health outcomes.

A consistent approach to enforcement allows for all levels of government to take the appropriate action for offences that may range from minor offences, to those that pose an immediate risk to public health, using a graduated proportionate response.

SA Health and Local Government have worked together to develop an enforcement framework (PDF 207KB) which sets out the principles of good enforcement.

This framework was an outcome from the SA Health - LGA Enforcement Project (PDF 297KB)

The Enforcement Project

The Enforcement Project was initiated in response to data from the 2009-10 Food Act Annual Report which showed that the use of warnings, improvement notices and expiations against food businesses varied significantly between enforcement agencies.

An Enforcement Project working group was set up under the SA Health & LGA Food Act 2001 MOU Working Group Work Plan (2014-16) to establish documents and training aids to improve the consistency of enforcement of the Food Act 2001 and extended to other public health legislation in South Australia.

The project focused on the state wide consistent enforcement of South Australian public health legislation including:

  • SA Public Health Act 2011
  • Food Act 2001
  • Safe Drinking Water Act 2011
  • Controlled Substances Act 1984
  • Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997.  

Project aims

The project aims to promote a consistent approach to enforcement, whilst also improving compliance with legislation through the appropriate use of enforcement methods.

The Public Health Enforcement Project Communication Report was published in January 2015. It outlines the research/ consultation findings between state and local enforcement agencies.