I work for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, where I manage 14 staff in the healthy environments team. We cover the whole of the Auckland region, from Kaiwaka in the north to Mercer in the south.
We deal with a very wide range of public health environment issues, from health and safety assessments of childcare centres to health impact assessments of proposed developments and to submissions on resource consent applications that have an impact on public health. We also make submissions on matters of legislative or policy change.
It's really interesting work. Every day is different; it's never routine. My role covers strategic policy work to very fast response-type work such as dealing with chemical spills and sewerage overflows.
I enjoy the strategic policy work the most. I like working 'upstream', trying to prevent issues or problems from occurring, rather than working 'downstream' when the land is already contaminated or the kids have developed respiratory illnesses because of their poor quality housing.
The work we do has a very real, direct impact on people's lives, and that is enormously satisfying. One example is our healthy housing programme, which is very much community-based. We work with families to insulate their homes so they are warmer, drier and healthier to live in.
I started here seven years ago while I was halfway through a Bachelor degree in Applied Sciences. I've been promoted just about every year since then. The flexible and supportive work environment meant that I was able to finish my degree while I worked fulltime. It's been terrific, really.
I feel very confident in my career prospects. There's plenty of scope for me to keep growing professionally and to move up the organisation, or sideways into another health sector policy role, whatever I choose.
In public health, there's a place for everybody, whatever your skills.