Public health emergencies can be caused by events which impact on public health or events that can potentially overwhelm the health-system.

For example, a highly infectious disease spreading through the community, health impacts arising from emergencies (for example smoke from a major fire or waterborne diseases during a flood), and any mass casualty situations or weather-related events such as thunderstorm asthma.

Examples of significant public health emergencies include the Victoria’s thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016, and the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Publish year Assurance activity Summary Organisation
2023 Business Continuity During COVID-19 (External link) An audit of all eight Victorian Government departments' business continuity arrangements, it assessed preparedness for a major disruption prior to COVID-19 and the effectiveness of arrangements to maintain prioritised services during the pandemic. The report made nine recommendations, concluding that most departments’ business continuity arrangements were inadequate prior to the pandemic. Victorian Auditor-General's Office
2023 Curbing antimicrobial resistance: A technology-powered, human-driven approach to combating the ‘silent pandemic' (External link) An report outlining the challenges for Australia and the world to avoid being thrust back into a pre-antimicrobial age where simple infections are deadly and some surgeries are too risky to perform. It calls for greater national coordination and a focus on streamlining commercialisation processes for new antimicrobial resistance solutions and technologies. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
2022 Select Committee on COVID-19: final report (External link) On 8 April 2020, the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee to inquire into the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final report identified as government failures: the failure to open quarantine facilities, the slow start to the vaccine rollout, and handling of COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities. Parliament of Australia
2022 Review of COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Orders in Victoria (External link) An assessment of vaccine mandates imposed on workers through pandemic orders, the report found that while the benefits of vaccine mandates protected essential services and supply chains, reduced economic disruptions and protected the health system, the decision-making process for why classes of workers were included in pandemic orders was not clearly communicated. Independent
2022 2021 report on the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (External link) A report that examines how the Charter was applied in 2021, it focuses on the impact of COVID-19 and issues that emerged in relation to additional measures the Victorian Government took to protect Victorians. It identifies 5 key lessons to ensure that human rights continue to be safeguarded in the pandemic recovery. Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
2022 Fault Lines - An independent review into Australia's response to COVID-19 (External link) An independent review that aims to learn the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic in order for Australia to be better prepared for future health crises, it makes four findings where improvements can be made, and six recommendations to put societal fault lines at the centre of improving response to the next health crisis. Independent
2022 Antimicrobial resistance: the silent global pandemic (External link) Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious global health threats of the 21st century, linking the interests, concerns and efforts of human, animal and environmental health. The report proposes solutions to position Australia as a global leader and support a coordinated, sustained, and unified health approach to addressing antimicrobial resistance and other health threats. Independent
2022 Review of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment purchasing and procurement: executive summary and recommendations (External link) An independent review of the purchasing and procurement of COVID-19 vaccine and treatments in Australia. Recommendations include the need for public health campaigns around vaccine uptake, an updated COVID-19 policy framework, the streamlining of advisory structures, a review of vaccine distribution arrangements, and the need to ensure adequate supplies of therapeutics and vaccines across 2023 and 2024. Independent
2022 Navigating the crisis: how governments used intelligence for decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic (External link) An examination of how governments — and the societies around them — mobilised intelligence to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, it makes recommendations that could improve the ability to organise intelligence for future challenges of all kinds, from pandemics to climate change. Independent
2022 Human Biosecurity for International Air Travellers during COVID-19 (External link) An audit conducted to provide assurance that human biosecurity for international air travellers has been managed effectively, the Auditor-General made six recommendations to improve governance arrangements and ensure that departmental systems for traveller processing adequately support human health outcomes. Australian National Audit Office