Communicable diseases information

This page contains information on some of the activities of the Office of Health Protection, in managing communicable diseases in Australia

Page last updated: 27 June 2018


Communicable diseases remain a significant public health priority both in Australia and internationally. The problems facing Australia today are diverse: foodborne diseases; emergence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria; sexually transmitted diseases; vectorborne diseases; vaccine preventable diseases.

The Office of Health Protection (OHP) is engaged in a range of activities to reduce the incidence, and thereby the social and economic impact of communicable disease. OHP holds key roles as a co-ordinator of national action in response to communicable disease outbreaks, and as a leader in the development of best practice guidelines and national public health policy. A national perspective is achieved through networks such as the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA).

OHP provides technical and policy advice on communicable diseases in the context of ensuring best practice public health nationally. Extensive national and international networking facilitates access to a pool of expertise in communicable diseases and related fields, which ensures appropriate and timely responses to disease outbreaks of national significance and high quality input into public health decisions, policy and programs.

Involvement in the administration of human health aspects of the Biosecurity Act 2015 , together with close liaison with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Food Standards Australia New Zealand strengthens OHP's multidirectional approach to disease control.

Strategies and activities

A National Framework for Communicable Disease Control

The National Framework for Communicable Disease Control:

  • Brings together government, agencies and committees under the goal of strengthening our defences against communicable diseases
  • Recommends outcomes required to achieve the two key objectives:
    1. Improved communicable disease prevention, detection and response
    2. Improved organisation and delivery of communicable disease control
  • And in doing so, supports the delivery of an integrated, national communicable disease response.

The Framework does not change the responsibilities of the Australian Government or state and territory governments. It focuses on national coordination and prioritisation of key system elements. Within system elements, the Framework identifies directions for change and opportunities for action to strengthen the system.

The Framework was developed in partnership with states and territories. Extensive consultation with key stakeholders revealed overwhelming support for greater national coordination of communicable disease prevention and control.

Work has commenced to develop implementation options to achieve the Framework's goal and objectives: strengthened defences through improved detection, prevention and response and improved delivery of communicable disease control services.

Two supporting documents informed the development of the Framework:

Communicable Diseases Network Australia - Enquiries and information should be directed to:
CDNA Secretariat
Office of Health Protection
Department of Health
GPO Box 9848 (MDP 140)
Canberra ACT 2601

top of page

Public Health Laboratory Network - Enquiries and information should be directed to:
PHLN Secretariat
Office of Health Protection
Department of Health
GPO Box 9848 (MDP 140)
Canberra ACT 2601

Disease surveillance

Surveillance is fundamental to the prevention and control of communicable diseases. The OHP is the Commonwealth's primary data collection and coordination centre for many communicable diseases. The OHP also coordinates and contracts other agencies to collect data and/or conduct research on communicable diseases. Two such centres are the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (NCIRS).

National surveillance networks and centres facilitate early detection of disease as well as long-term epidemiological analysis. These in turn provide essential information for planning interventions, and form the foundation for future public health priorities and clearly focused evidence-based policy development and best practice. This philosophy is reflected in work carried out or co-ordinated through the OHP.

Surveillance data is disseminated through the quarterly publication Communicable Diseases Intelligence (CDI). CDI publishes occasional reports on some national surveillance schemes, including the National Mycobacterial Surveillance System, the Australian Mycobacterial Reference Laboratory Network, the National Neisseria Network, OzFoodNet, Rotavirus surveillance and the Sentinel Chicken Scheme. Information on national surveillance schemes routinely reported in CDI are detailed in the document Surveillance systems reported in CDI.


The Communicable diseases surveillance portion of the website provides information on communicable disease surveillance. It includes the quarterly publication Communicable Diseases Intelligence, data on Australia's nationally notifiable diseases, influenza surveillance reports (during the winter months), and other publications relating to communicable disease surveillance in Australia.

Communicable Diseases Intelligence is available in HTML and PDF format on this website and produced electronically only.

Subscription to electronic notification for updates is available. Correspondence should be sent to:
Communicable Diseases Intelligence
Office of Health Protection
PO Box 9848
Canberra ACT, 2601

or Email to: cdi editor

top of page

Series of National Guidelines (SoNGs)

The Series of National Guidelines (SoNGs) provide nationally consistent advice and guidance to public health units in responding to a notifiable disease event. These guidelines capture the knowledge of experienced professionals, built on past research efforts, and provide advice on best practice based upon the best available evidence at the time of completion. SoNGs also include a plain language fact sheet and a sample case report form.

Disease groups

Communicable disease fact sheets

Fact Sheets on communicable diseases are available from:


Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
Rabies, Australian bat lyssavirus and other lyssaviruses
Yellow fever

Additional resources - communicable diseases and OHP

Foodborne illness in Australia: Annual Incidence Circa 2010
Infection Control Guidelines
Communicable Diseases Surveillance web site currently provides information on communicable disease surveillance
National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System on the CDS site
Communicable Diseases Intelligence Technical Report Series
Protecting Australia from Communicable Diseases: Everybody's Business
Communicable Diseases Intelligence supplement reports on vaccine preventable diseases and vaccination coverage in Australia and supplement report on Antimicrobial resistance
Recent publications on communicable diseases, endorsed and published through the NHMRC can be obtained from the NHMRC web site

If you are having difficulty downloading the document(s) please email OHP webmaster.

Provide feedbackIf you would like a response please complete our enquiries form.

Comments will be used to improve web content and will not be responded to.

Real person check

This form uses a CAPTCHA to ensure that it is submitted by a person, instead of a machine or automated software.

Privacy statement