Law Library Stacks

Back to Legal Responses to Health Emergencies


Under Australia’s federal system, states and territories have primary responsibility for matters related to health care and emergency management.  The federal government provides various funding, policy leadership, and coordination assistance in the context of national responses to public health emergencies.  It also has quarantine powers and powers related to border management that can be utilized where there is an epidemic or threat of an epidemic.  National agreements, as well as the National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth), establish structures and processes for preventing and responding to national health emergencies, with different entities providing oversight and coordination at the national level, and states and territories applying their own laws, jurisdictional responses, and coordination processes.  This includes a national notification and surveillance system under which state and territory authorities report on instances of certain diseases to a central authority, which then makes information available for analysis and discussion. In the event of a public health threat, state and territory public health laws provide a range of powers to enable action to be taken by authorities. This can include ordering medical examinations, treatment, and detention of individuals.

The Australian government, along with state and territory governments, has taken a range of actions in response to the 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa.  This includes enhanced screening of passengers at airports, stopping the processing of visa applications from citizens of affected countries, issuing national guidance to public health units and laboratories, and the development of detailed state and territory response plans.  As of October 2014, around twenty people who arrived in Australia from EVD-affected countries had been placed on home quarantine.

I.  Introduction

Australia has a federal system of government with powers divided under the Constitution between the Commonwealth government and the country’s six states and two mainland self-governing territories.[1]  The matters over which the Commonwealth Parliament has legislative powers are listed in sections 51 and 52 of the Constitution.[2]  Most of these legislative powers are concurrent, meaning that they are shared with state and territory parliaments.  Where there is a conflict between state and federal laws, the federal law will override the state law to the extent of the inconsistency.[3]
Section 96 of the Constitution provides the Commonwealth Parliament with the power to grant financial assistance to any state “on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.”[4]  In practice, this may include tying grants to the implementation of certain policies by the states.[5] Often such policies are the subject of agreements between the state and federal governments, such as through the mechanisms of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).[6]  In addition, state and territory parliaments may refer matters within their legislative powers to the Commonwealth Parliament.[7]

Section 51(ix) of the Constitution provides that the federal government has legislative powers with respect to quarantine. In addition, the commerce and trade powers under section 51 are interpreted broadly, enabling the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws in a range of health-related areas.[8]  In general, however, all other matters related to human health fall within the residual powers of the states. 

Public hospitals are owned and operated by state and territory governments, which also fund and deliver various health programs and services.  However, as a result of long-term funding and policy arrangements, the federal government partially funds public hospitals and “is primarily responsible for health service funding; regulation of health products, services and workforce; and national health policy leadership.”[9]  Various national agreements impact funding, policy, and implementation arrangements within the health sector.[10]

Back to Top

II.  Structure of Public Health Crisis Management System

A.  Federal Laws and National Agreements

In addition to the states and territories having residual legislative powers in relation to health care, the management of emergencies is also not generally a matter for which the federal government may give directions to states and territories under the Constitution.  Therefore, “cooperative and collaborative mechanisms” between these levels of government are needed for the strategic coordination of responses to national emergencies, including public health crises.[11]

1.  National Health Security Act and Agreement

All of the states and territories signed the National Health Security Agreement in 2008,[12] which supports the National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) and National Health Security Regulations 2008 (Cth).[13] These enactments give effect to the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (2005).[14]  These regulations required Australia to “develop multi-level capacities in the health sector to effectively manage public health threats and to develop, strengthen and maintain the capacity to detect, report and respond to public health events.”[15]  The objectives of the National Health Security Act include

  1. to provide a national system of public health surveillance to enhance the capacity of the Commonwealth and the States and Territories to identify, and respond to, public health events of national significance which include:
    1. the occurrence of certain communicable diseases; or
    2. certain releases of chemical, biological or radiological agents; or
    3. the occurrence of public health risks; or
    4. he occurrence of overseas mass casualties; and
  2. to provide for the sharing of information with:
    1. the World Health Organization; and
    2. countries affected by an event relating to public health or an overseas mass casualty; and
  3. to support the Commonwealth and the States and Territories in giving effect to the International Health Regulations (other than as mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b).[16]

The National Health Security Agreement is primarily concerned with strengthening Australia’s public health surveillance and reporting system.  It sets out the responsibilities of entities at the national and state levels of government with regard to surveillance and reporting of communicable diseases and responding to significant public health events.

2.  National Health Emergency Response Arrangements

The Australian government’s 2011 National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, referred to as the NatHealth Arrangements, “articulate the strategic arrangements and mechanisms for the coordination of the Australian health sector in response to emergencies of national consequence.”[17]  The document provides a governance structure for coordination, command or control, and information flows during national health emergencies.

Emergencies of national consequence are those that “require consideration of national level policy, strategy and public messaging or inter-jurisdictional assistance, where such assistance is not covered by existing arrangements.”[18]  The NatHealth Arrangements may be triggered to coordinate a national response to health impacts arising from, for example, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, biosecurity threats, and emergent or re-emergent communicable diseases. They operate in the broader context of Australia’s national security framework, which includes various strategic plans and arrangements related to both conventional and nonconventional threats.[19]  They may also be utilized for an international health emergency affecting Australian interests or nationals.[20]

B.  State and Territory Responsibilities

The National Health Security Agreement recognizes that state and territory governments have “primary responsibility for the public health response” to public health events within their own jurisdictions,21] while the Commonwealth government has “primary responsibility for international border surveillance and public health events occurring at international borders.”[22]   Where there is a “Public Health Event of National Significance,” a “national health sector response will occur at the request of an affected, or potentially affected, State or Territory.”[23]  Such a response will be coordinated at the national level in accordance with Commonwealth and state and territory legislation, as well as any established national plans or protocols, and each state and territory will also “undertake its own jurisdictional coordinating processes.”[24]

According to the NatHealth Arrangements,

[s]tate and territory health authorities have well established emergency management legislation, and well rehearsed and integrated emergency management arrangements.

Jurisdictional health authorities have existing command and control structures for the management of health facilities, public health units and pathology laboratory services. Additionally, in some jurisdictions ambulance services also come under the health authority response arrangements.

Each state and territory is responsible for determining its own internal coordination mechanisms to give effect to the NatHealth Arrangements, both as an affected jurisdiction in requesting national coordination and as an unaffected jurisdiction that may provide resources and assistance.[25]

C.  Key National Coordination Entities

1.  Australian Health Protection Committee

The Australian Health Protection Committee (AHPC) was established in 2006 by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC).  Along with a second new committee, the Australian Population Health Development Committee, the AHPC replaced the previous National Public Health Partnership.[26]  It is responsible for “high level cross jurisdictional collaboration in public health protection, planning, preparedness, response and recovery in relation to public health emergencies arising from man made emergencies or natural disasters.”[27]  Its membership includes the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Health Officer of each state and territory, as well as health disaster officials, clinical experts, and representatives from the federal Department of Health, Australian Defence Force, and the Emergency Management Australia division of the Attorney-General’s Department.[28]

The roles of the AHPC include, among others,

  • advising and making recommendations to AHMAC on health protection matters; to mitigate emerging health threats related to infectious diseases, the environment, natural disasters and disasters related to human endeavour in a context of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery;
  • advising on national health protection priorities and coordinating the allocation of health resources to these priorities;
  • national coordination of emergency operational activity in health responses to disasters and health protection issues of national significance;
  • enabling development and adoption by states and territories of national health protection policies, guidelines and standards[.][29]

The AHPC has various standing committees, including the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA), National Health Emergency Management Subcommittee (NHEMS), and the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN).  The AHPC and these three standing committees receive secretariat support from the Office of Health Protection within the Department of Health.[30]

a.  National Health Emergency Management Subcommittee

According to the NatHealth Arrangements,

[t]he National Health Emergency Management Subcommittee (NHEMS) addresses the operational aspects of disaster medicine and health emergency management in an all hazards context with a focus on preparedness and response. The NHEMS reports to the AHPC. In an emergency the AHPC may task NHEMS to provide advice on operational aspects of the response.[31]

b.  Communicable Diseases Network Australia

The CDNA was established in 1989.  It “provides national public health co-ordination on communicable disease surveillance, prevention and control, and offers strategic advice to governments and other key bodies on public health actions to minimise the impact of communicable diseases in Australia and the region.”[32]  The committee meets every two weeks to review information and developments related to communicable diseases surveillance.  Its ongoing projects include developing a national communicable disease framework and developing national guidelines for the Series of National Guidelines (SoNGs).  Such guidelines are endorsed by the AHPC and “provide nationally consistent advice and guidance to public health units in responding to a notifiable disease event.”[33]  The CDMA also provides advice on the inclusion and removal of conditions on the Nationally Notifiable Diseases List.[34]

c.  Public Health Laboratory Network

The PHLN was first established as part of the previous 1996 National Communicable Diseases Surveillance Strategy in order to complement the CDNA.[35]  It is a “collaborative group of pathology and veterinary laboratories, nominated by state and territory health departments,”[36] with the central role of providing “leadership and consultation in all aspects of public health microbiology and communicable disease control.”[37]  During an emergency of national consequence, the AHPC may seek advice on laboratory diagnostic and surveillance aspects of the emergency from the PHLN.[38]

d.  Australian Medical Assistance Teams

The AHPC also oversees multidisciplinary civilian medical assistance teams situated throughout the country.  The Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMATs), which are designed to be self-sufficient and have field deployment capabilities, include various volunteer health professionals such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, environmental health staff, radiographers, and pharmacists.[39]  AHPC may deploy AUSMATs to affected Australian jurisdictions or overseas to assist in the event of health emergencies.[40]

2.  Department of Health and Health Emergency Management Branch

According to the NatHealth Arrangements, the federal Department of Health provides leadership and national health sector coordination in the event of an emergency of national consequence.  This may include “provision of expert health advice and national policy development, logistical coordination of extra jurisdictional health sector resources (human, equipment and peripherals) and linkages to international health authorities and bodies.”[41]  The federal budget for the Department of Health includes a specific outcome related to “Biosecurity and Emergency Response.”[42]

The Department of Health’s Office of Health Protection aims to “protect the health of the Australian community through effective national leadership and coordination and building of appropriate capacity and capability to detect, prevent and respond to threats to public health and safety.”[43]  It consists of several branches, including the Health Protection Policy Branch, Health Emergency Management Branch (HEMB), and Immunisation Branch.
HEMB is the designated National Focal Point under the National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) and the International Health Regulations (2005).[44]  It undertakes a range of activities related to providing “effective surveillance of current and emerging communicable disease threats” and to monitoring and implementing “effective and sustained responses to national health emergencies and risks.”[45]  For example, it is responsible for managing the National Incident Room (NIR),[46] which “provides a centralised hub from which responses to national health emergencies are coordinated.”[47]  The branch also manages the National Medical Stockpile (NMS),[48] administers the Security Sensitive Biological Agents Regulatory Scheme, publishes the Communicable Diseases Intelligence journal, and manages surveillance systems for nationally notifiable diseases, among other activities.[49] 

D.  Notification and Surveillance System

Public health legislation in each state and territory mandates that certain diseases be reported by health care providers to the relevant state or territory health department, while the National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) requires the establishment and maintenance of a National Notifiable Disease List.[50]  Diseases may be added to this list “if the Commonwealth Minister, having consulted State and Territory Ministers, considers that an outbreak would be a public health risk.”[51]  Diseases may also be added in an emergency where there is not time to undertake consultation.[52]

The federal government operates the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.[53]  Where a nationally-notifiable disease is reported at the state or territory level, “[c]omputerised, de-identified unit records of notifications are supplied to the Australian Government Department of Health on a daily basis, for collation, analysis and publication on the Internet, (updated 3 times per week), and in the quarterly journal Communicable Diseases Intelligence.”[54]  The Office of Health Protection is the “primary data collection and coordination centre for many communicable diseases.”[55]

Under the National Health Security Agreement, where there are one or more cases of certain diseases listed in the National Notifiable Disease List this will be considered a “Public Health Event of National Significance” and must be reported to the National Focal Point.  The relevant diseases are

  • smallpox,
  • poliomyelitis due to wild-type poliovirus;
  • human influenza caused by a new subtype;
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS);
  • pneumonic plague;
  • yellow fever;
  • viral haemorrhagic fevers;
  • cholera;
  • rabies.[56]

The reporting requirement may also be triggered by any other potential “Public Health Event of National Significance or Public Health Emergency of International Concern” depending on the circumstances.[57]  Events that constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern are defined in Annex 2 of the International Health Regulations (2005).[58]

Notification requirements that may be imposed on others, such as the captains of ships or aircraft entering Australia, are included in the Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth).[59]  The Department of Agriculture is notified of ill passengers before a plane lands or a ship docks.  In addition, information about where a person has traveled and whether they are feeling ill upon entering Australia may be required.[60]  Further information on powers that may be exercised under the Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) is provided below.

Under the National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth), where a state or territory authority places a traveler who enters, and is in transit, under public health observation while in Australia, the National Focal Point must be notified and provided with certain details.[61] 

Back to Top

III.  Powers of Public Health Authorities

A.  Vaccinations

As a general rule, there are no diseases for which vaccination is compulsory for persons living in Australia.  However, unless an appropriate medical or philosophical exemption has been obtained, children must be assessed as fully immunized in order for parents to be eligible for the federal Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement and other payments.[62]  A national childhood immunization register records vaccinations given to children under seven years of age.[63]  Parents may be required to keep a nonimmunized child home from school or day care if certain cases of vaccine-preventable diseases occur at that facility.[64]

Furthermore, where cases of quarantinable diseases arise, quarantine officers have the power to require a person who is subject to quarantine to submit to vaccination or prophylaxis if this is considered necessary to prevent the spread of the disease or is specified in the International Health Regulations.[65]  The Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) was amended in 2008 to meet certain requirements under the International Health Regulations (2005) for vaccinations and other health measures related to travelers.[66] 

B.  State and Territory Public Health Legislation

As noted above, state and territory governments have various powers under their respective public health and emergency management laws.  For example, in New South Wales, the largest state in the country, the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides that, where a state of emergency exists under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 (NSW), the relevant Minister may take actions or give orders that could include directing all persons in a specified group or area to submit to medical examination.[67] 

Furthermore, where a situation exists that is considered a threat to public health, the Minister may take actions to reduce the risk, segregate or isolate people in an area, and prevent access to an area.[68]  In individual cases, if a certain condition is suspected and a person is considered to be a risk to public health, the Director-General of the New South Wales health department may direct that the person undergo a medical examination and associated tests.[69]  Other public health orders are also available to authorized medical practitioners where a person has a condition and is behaving in a way that may be a risk to public health.  This might including ordering the person to refrain from certain conduct, submit to supervision, or undergo specified treatment.[70]  Where such an order is contravened, the person may be arrested and detained.[71]

In New South Wales, the above public health orders may be made with respect to persons who have the following conditions: avian influenza in humans; Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS); tuberculosis; typhoid; viral haemorrhagic fevers; Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection.[72]

Similar public health orders and other powers related to notifiable diseases are available under the public health legislation of Queensland, the third largest state.  For example, a judge may issue a detention order for a person with a “controlled notifiable condition” whose condition or behavior constitutes an “immediate risk to public health.”[73]  The person subject to the order must remain at the place of detention for the period stated in the order and undergo ordered medical examination or treatment.[74]

C.  Federal Quarantine Law

The Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) is administered jointly by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture.  Under the federal statute, in the event of an emergency a proclamation may be issued declaring that “any or all measures of quarantine prescribed by or under any State Act” must cease to have effect for a period of time.[75]  In addition, the Commonwealth government may enter into arrangements with states and territories with respect to a range of quarantine-related matters.[76]

The federal government may declare by proclamation the existence of an epidemic or the danger of an epidemic caused by a quarantinable disease.  During the period that the proclamation is in force the relevant Minister may “give such directions and take such action as he or she thinks necessary to control and eradicate the epidemic, or to remove the danger of the epidemic, by quarantine measures or measures incidental to quarantine.”[77]  Authorized persons may also exercise such powers in order to implement a coordinated response to a declared epidemic.[78]  Failure to comply with a direction given under these provisions is an offense punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment.[79] 

In the legislation, quarantine is defined to include measures

  1. for, or in relation to:
    1. the examination, exclusion, detention, observation, segregation, isolation, protection, treatment and regulation of vessels, installations, human beings, animals, plants or other goods or things; or
    2. the seizure and destruction of animals, plants, or other goods or things; or
    3. the destruction of premises comprising buildings or other structures when treatment of these premises is not practicable; and
  2. having as their object the prevention or control of the introduction, establishment or spread of diseases or pests that will or could cause significant damage to human beings, animals, plants, other aspects of the environment or economic activities.[80]

The Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) provides that persons who may be subject to quarantine include “every person infected with a quarantinable disease or quarantinable pest,” or who a quarantine officer reasonably suspects is infected, as well as persons who have been in contact with or exposed to infection from any person or goods subject to quarantine.[81]  Quarantinable diseases are listed in the Quarantine Proclamation 1998 (Cth),[82] and are also reflected in the National Notifiable Disease List.[83] 

Where a vessel or installation has on board a case of communicable disease, and a quarantine officer certifies that quarantine measures are needed to stop the spread of the disease, such measures may be taken in relation to the vessel itself as well as any persons or goods on board.  Those suffering from the disease, which need not be a quarantinable disease, may be ordered into quarantine.[84]

Persons ordered into quarantine may be detained on board the vessel in which they arrived in Australia, on the premises on which they are found, or removed and detained in a quarantine station or other approved place.[85]  Persons arriving in Australia may also be placed under “quarantine surveillance” as an alternative to detention.[86] 

Various enforcement powers are included in Part VIA of the Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth).  These include powers in relation to premises and vehicles, and search and seizure powers. 

In July 2014, the Minister for Agriculture announced that the Biosecurity Bill 2014 would be advanced to replace the Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth).[87]  The Bill was previously introduced in 2012 but lapsed when Parliament adjourned in 2013.[88]  The passage of the Bill would be “the biggest change to [Australia’s] biosecurity system in more than one hundred years.”[89]  Among the changes would be new powers to allow the Commonwealth government to respond to biosecurity risks and to “help state and territory governments manage a nationally significant pest or disease outbreak.”[90]

Back to Top

IV.  Transparency of Public Health Crisis Management System

As noted above, the Department of Health, through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, provides online, publicly-available information on notifiable diseases that is updated three times per week.  Summary data is available online for each state and territory, and all diseases, dating back to 1991.[91]  A quarterly journal that provides detailed information on different diseases and related activities is also published by the Department of Health.[92]  The National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) contains provisions related to information confidentiality, disclosure, and use.[93]

Back to Top

V.  Response to Ebola Virus Epidemic in West Africa

Australian federal and state and territory governments have taken a range of actions in response to the 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in several countries in West Africa.  This includes the appointment of an infectious disease expert to oversee the response.[94]  State and territory Chief Health Officers provide weekly updates on their preparedness plans at meetings of the AHPC.  Australia’s Chief Medical Officer stated in October 2014 that

[n]ationally and at a local level we have alerted doctors, hospital, paramedics and other health professionals on what to do if they suspect a patient has Ebola.

All States and Territories have their own response plans which include designating specific hospitals to treat suspected cases and ensuring there are adequate facilities and equipment, including personal protection, available.

In addition the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia has produced a series of special guidelines for hospitals, public health units, clinicians and GPs. The guidelines give step by step guidance on identifying and dealing with a suspected case and they are continually under review as new information and experiences from overseas are received.[95]

Enhanced airport screening of passengers traveling to Australia from affected countries started in August 2014, and airport border agencies have been provided with guidance by the Department of Health “to identify and quarantine any passengers presenting Ebola symptoms in flights or at airports.”[96]  Travelers who have been in EVD-affected countries are asked a series of questions by a Biosecurity Officer “to assess their risk of exposure to EVD.”[97]  Passengers may then be referred to state health authorities for assessment if required.[98]  As at late October, more than nine hundred passengers had been screened at ten Australian airports.[99]  Twenty-four people had undergone a full screening process, “including being referred to human quarantine officers.”[100] 

On October 27, 2014, the Minister of Immigration announced in Parliament that Australian immigration authorities had stopped processing visa applications from citizens from EVD-affected countries.101[]  People from these countries who had previously received permanent immigration visas are required to submit to a twenty-one day quarantine period before leaving West Africa, as well as being checked on arrival in Australia.[102]  Temporary visas previously granted to people who had not yet traveled to Australia were canceled.[103]

In terms of national guidance and response coordination, the CDNA issued a new SoNG on EVD for public health units in August 2014, which has been updated several times and endorsed by the AHPC.[104]  In addition, the PHLN has prepared the National High Security Quarantine Laboratory Guideline for Management of Quarantinable Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers[105] and guidelines on laboratory procedures for samples collected from patients with suspected EVD.[106]  The Department of Health provides updates on its website regarding actions being taken by the federal government to “prevent the spread of EVD to Australia in partnership with the States and Territories.”[107]  For example, it states that “EVD is a quarantinable disease in Australia, and as such can be controlled and eradicated through a range of quarantine measures, including enforcing appropriate disinfection measures on aircraft and ships or port facilities.”[108]

At the state and territory level, detailed EVD response plans have been prepared or updated and published by health departments, such as the Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan[109] and the New South Wales Contingency Plan for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers.[110]  These are read alongside the SoNG issued by the CDNA as well as state and territory legislation.

During October, nineteen people from four families were placed on home quarantine in Queensland for twenty-one days after arriving from affected countries on humanitarian visas.[111]  In addition, in September a person in Queensland who had previously traveled to an EVD affected country “was isolated, overseen by infectious disease experts with necessary tests quickly initiated.”[112]

The federal government has stated that a team of twenty health care workers is available to be dispatched to Australia’s regional neighbors should they request assistance in the event of an EVD outbreak.[113]  As at late October 2014, Australia was facing criticism from the affected countries and the United Nations with regard to the new visa restrictions,[114] and from the Australian Medical Association and others for not sending AUSMATs or other Australian health professionals to those countries to provide medical assistance.[115]

Back to Top

Prepared by Kelly Buchanan
Chief, Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Division I
February 2015

[1] See generally Making Laws, Parliamentary Education Office, (last visited Oct. 28, 2014).

[2] Australian Constitution ss 51 & 52,

[3] Id. s 109.

[4] Id. s 96.

[5] Christopher Reynolds, Public and Environmental Health Law 44–45 (2011).

[6] See About COAG, Council of Australian Governments, visited Oct. 28, 2014).

[7] Australian Constitution s 51(xxxvii).

[8] Reynolds, supra note 5, at 40–41.

[9] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Health Care Delivery and Financing, in 1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2012,[email protected]/Lookup/by%20Subject/1301.0~2012~Main%20Features~Health%20care%20delivery%20and
(last updated Jan. 21, 2013).

[10] See Health and Ageing, Council of Australian Governments, (last visited Oct. 28, 2014).

[11] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements § 3.2 (Nov. 2011), available on the website of the Australian Government Department of Health, at (last visited Oct. 29, 2014).  For historical information regarding Australia’s approach to responding to infectious disease outbreaks see Nigel Brew & Kate Brunton, Australia’s Capacity to Respond to an Infectious Disease Outbreak (Research Paper No. 3 2004-5, Nov. 16, 2004), Australian Parliamentary Library, pubs/rp/rp0405/05rp03.

[12] See National Health Security Agreement, available on the website of the Australian Government Department of Health, at (last visited Oct. 29, 2014).

[13] National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth),; National Health Security Regulations 2008 (Cth),

[14] WHO, International Health Regulations (2d ed. 2005), (last visited Oct. 28, 2014).

[15] National Health Security Agreement, supra note 12, recital B.

[16] National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) s 6.

[17] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, supra note 11, “Authority.”

[18] Id., “Introduction.”

[19] Id.

[20] Id. § 3.3.2.

[21] National Health Security Agreement, supra note 12, art. 3.

[22] Id. art. 22.

[23] Id. art. 14.

[24] Id. art. 20.

[25] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, supra note 11, § 4.2.

[26] The National Public Health Partnership, National Public Health Partnership (archived by the Victoria Department of Health), (last updated Feb. 22, 2010).

[27] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, supra note 11, § 4.3.

[28] Presentation, Dr. Robyn Walker, Department of Health and Ageing, RACMA Annual Conference 2011, slide 5 (Oct. 12, 2011), Royal Australasian College of Medical Examiners website, conference_racma2011_Walker-135.pdf.  For information on Emergency Management Australia, see Our Organisation, Australian Emergency Management, Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, (last visited Oct. 28, 2014).

[29] Principal Committees, Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, membership.aspx#other (last visited Oct. 28, 2014).

[30] About the Office of Health Protection (OHP), Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Sept. 25, 2014).

[31] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, supra note 11, § 6.5.1.

[32] About Communicable Diseases Network Australia,Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Nov. 4, 2013).

[33] Series of National Guidelines (SoNGs), Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Oct. 14, 2014).

[34] About Communicable Diseases Network Australia, supra note 32.

[35] Overview of the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN), Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Feb. 26, 2014).

[36] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, supra note 11, § 6.5.1.

[37] Overview of the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN), supra note 35.

[38] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, supra note 11, § 6.5.1.

[39] AUSMAT, National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre,http://www.nationaltraumacentre. (last visited Oct. 28, 2014); Australian Medical Assistance Team, SA Health, protecting+public+health/emergency+management/australian+medical+assistance+team (last modified Oct. 21, 2014).

[40] National Health Emergency Response Arrangements, supra note 11, § 6.5.1.

[41] Id. § 4.1.

[42] Australian Budget 2014–15 Health Portfolio Budget Statements, Outcome 9: Biosecurity and Emergency Response (2014), sup2/$File/2014-15_Health_PBS_2.09_Outcome_9.pdf.

[43] About the Office of Health Protection (OHP), supra note 30.

[44] Id.

[45] Id.

[46] National Incident Room, Australian Government Department of Health, internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-bio-factsht_inc_room.htm (last updated Mar. 4, 2011).

[47] Dr. Robyn Walker, supra note 28, slide 9.

[48] National Medical Stockpile, Australian Government Department of Health, internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-bio-factsht_stckpile.htm (last updated May 14, 2014).

[49] About the Office of Health Protection (OHP), supra note 30.

[50] National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) pt 2 div 5; National Health Security (National Notifiable Disease List) Instrument 2008 (Cth),  

[51] National Health Security Agreement, supra note 12, definition of NNDL; National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) s 11(2).

[52] National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) s 12.

[53] For information on the history and development of the surveillance system, see Megge Miller et al., Evaluation of Australia’s National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System, Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Oct. 30, 2004).

[54] Introduction to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Mar. 11, 2014).

[55] Communicable Diseases Information, Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Oct. 23, 2014).

[56] National Health Security Agreement, supra note 12, definition of “Public Health Event of National Significance to be Reported to the NFP.”

[57] Id.

[58] Id., definition of “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”

[59] Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) s 22, also Fact Sheet: Reporting an Illness or Death, Australian Government Department of Health, internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-quarantine-factsheet (last updated Feb. 17, 2014).

[60] Quarantine, Australian Government Department of Health, publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-quarantine.htm (last updated Aug. 20, 2014).

[61] National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) s 17.

[62] Australian Government Department of Health, The Australian Immunisation Handbook, App. 4: “Commonly Asked Questions about Vaccination” (10th ed. 2013), immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/appendix4See also Immunising Your Children, Australian Government Department of Human Services, (last updated Oct. 24, 2014).

[63] Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, Australian Government Department of Human Services, (last updated July 4, 2014).

[64] The Australian Immunisation Handbook, supra note 62.

[65] Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) s 75.

[66] Quarantine Amendment (National Health Security) Act 2008 (Cth), C2008A00068.

[68] Id. s 7.

[69] Id. s 61.

[70] Id. s 62.

[71] Id. s 71.

[72] Id. sch 1, categories 4 & 5.

[74] Id. s 132.

[75] Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) s 2A.

[76] Id. s 11.

[77] Id. s 2B(1) & (2).

[78] Id. s 3.

[79] Id. ss 2B(3) & 3(9).

[80] Id. s 4(1).

[81] Id. s 18(1).

[82] Quarantine Proclamation 1998 (Cth) reg 21,

[83] National Health Security (National Notifiable Disease List) Instrument 2008 (Cth) div 2.3.

[84] Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) s 35.

[85] Id. s 45(1).

[86] Id. s 34.

[87] Press Release, Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, Historic Biosecurity Bill 2014 to Safeguard Australia (July 7, 2014),; Biosecurity Bill 2014, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, (last updated Oct. 1, 2014).

[88] Biosecurity Bill 2012, also Chapter 2 – Managing Biosecurity Risk: Human Health, Australian Government Department of Health, au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-biosecurity-2-human-health.htm (last updated Feb. 20, 2013).

[89] Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, supra note 87.

[90] Id.

[91] National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Oct. 29, 2014).

[92] Communicable Diseases Intelligence – Current Issue – June 2014, Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Aug. 25, 2014).  See also Surveillance Systems Reported in Communicable Disease Intelligence 2014, Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated June 30, 2014).

[93] National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth) pt 2 div 8.

[94] Sophie Scott & Brigid Anderson, Infectious Disease Expert Professor Lyn Gilbert Appointed to Oversee Australia’s Response to Ebola Threat, ABC News (Oct. 23, 2014),

[95] Press Release, Australian Government Department of Health, Ebola Health Protection Update (Oct. 17, 2014),

[96] Press Release, Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, Australia is Well Prepared to Deal with Ebola (Aug. 15, 2014),$File/AHPPC-Statement.pdf.

[97] Ebola Outbreak in West Africa,, (last updated Oct. 25, 2014).

[98] Press Release, Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, Appropriate Biosecurity Measures at Airports to Help Manage Ebola Risk (Oct. 17, 2014),

[99] Sarah Scopelianos & Tim Leslie, Explained: Australia’s Plan to Tackle Ebola, ABC News au/news/2014-10-30/ebola-explained-australia-response/5826378 (last visited Oct. 31, 2014).

[1000] Dan Harrison, Australia Shuts Borders to Ebola-Affected Countries, The Sydney Morning Herald (Oct. 28, 2014),

[101] Federal Government to Stop Processing Visa Applications from Countries Affected by Ebola, ABC News (Oct. 27, 2014),

[102] Interview, Hon. Scott Morrison MP with Chris Uhlman, ABC AM Programme (Oct. 27, 2014),; Scopelianos & Leslie, supra note 99.

[103] Harrison, supra note 100.

[104] Australian Government Department of Health, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD): CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units (version 1.3, Oct. 24, 2014), ohp-ebola.htm/$File/EVD-SoNG.pdf.

[105] National High Security Quarantine Laboratory Guideline for Management of Quarantinable Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers, Australian Government Department of Health, main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-nhsql-qvhf.htm (last updated Aug. 14, 2014).

[106] Laboratory Procedures and Precautions for Samples Collected from Patients with Suspected Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (Oct. 2014), Australian Government Department of Health, au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-pubs-other-vhf.htm (last updated Oct. 17, 2014).

[107] Ebolavirus Disease (Ebola) Outbreaks in West Africa, Australian Government Department of Health, (last updated Oct. 31, 2014).

[108] Ebolavirus Disease (EVD) Outbreaks in West Africa – Important Information for Travellers, Patients and Consumers, Australian Government Department of Health, publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-ebola-info-patients.htm (last updated Oct. 17, 2014).

[109] Victoria Department of Health, Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan (version 1, Sept. 15, 2014),$FILE/Victorian%20 Ebola%20Virus%20Disease%20Response%20Plan_September%202014.pdf.

[110] Health Protection NSW, NSW Contingency Plan for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (updated Oct. 22, 2014),

[112] Press Release, Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Australia’s World Class Preparedness Against Ebola (Sept. 11, 2014),

[113] Press Release, Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Ebola – The Facts: Australia is Ready and Able to Assist Neighbouring Countries Across the Region Should Ebola Appear Here (Oct. 22, 2014), ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/health-mediarel-yr2014-dutton090.htm.

[114] Greg Dyett, Australia Criticised Over Ebola Visa Decision, SBS (Oct. 29, 2014), news/article/2014/10/29/australia-criticised-over-ebola-visa-decision; Matt Siegel, Australian Ebola ‘Tsar’ Questions Government’s West Africa Visa Ban, Reuters (Oct. 29, 2014), 2014/10/29/us-health-ebola-australia-idUSKBN0II0CU20141029

[115] AMA Head Attacks Australia’s Response to Ebola as Shambolic, The Australian (Oct. 26, 2014),

Back to Top


Last Updated: 12/30/2020