Information for the Public

This page contains information for the general public on Australia's response to health emergencies, including natural disasters, communicable disease outbreaks and acts of terrorism.

Page last updated: 14 February 2011

Australia's current level of awareness and preparation in the health system has evolved from experience in a number of events and incidents including the:

  • flooding in QLD and Vic, 2011
  • assistance to Pakistan following flooding, 2010
  • assistance to Samoa following Pacific tsunami, 2009
  • Pandemic (HIN1) 2009
  • refugee boat explosion near Ashmore Reef, 2009
  • Victorian Bushfires, 2009
  • Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
  • September 11, 2001 attacks and the anthrax attacks in the United States
  • Bali bombings on 12 October, 2002
  • 26 December, 2004 Asian tsunami
The responsibility for front-line emergency response units, such as police, fire, health and emergency services, rests with individual state and territory governments.

All state and territory health authorities in Australia have health disaster plans in place to coordinate health facilities in their jurisdictions in response to situations, depending on their scale. These plans are well established and well rehearsed to provide the most appropriate level of response to a terrorist attack or a major disaster involving large numbers of casualties and they are coordinated with other emergency services.

The Australian Government recognises there must be a nationally-coordinated health capacity to respond to a terrorist incident, disaster or significant naturally-occurring disease outbreak and to provide assistance to the states and territories. This function is performed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), which is chaired by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Emergency Management Australia and the Department of Defence have also invested heavily in health preparations to ensure Australia is well prepared to deal with a health emergency.

For further information, please refer to the Health Emergency Response Facts Sheets.
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