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
Mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic (External link) A report on the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and lockdowns on the mental health and wellbeing of people aged 75 and over, it recommends vulnerable older Australians should be identified and prioritised in the National Pandemic Response Plan. Independent
2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry 2014 (External link) The Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry was conducted from February to September 2014 to inquire into the response to the 2014 fires which took hold in the Hazelwood mine as a result of embers spotting from bushfires. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference required the Board to inquire into and report on a range of issues, including the origin of the fire, the firefighting response, fire prevention and preparedness measures taken by the owner, operator and licensee of the mine and regulatory agencies, the fire’s impacts on the health and wellbeing of affected communities, and the response to the health emergency. Board of Inquiry into the Hazelwood Mine Fire
2015 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Implementation Monitor – 2015 Annual Report (External link) A consolidated annual report by Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire Implementation Monitor and IGEM on government’s progress with implementation of recommendations and affirmations in the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Report – Implementation and Monitoring Plan. The report found positive progress by the state and ENGIE. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2016 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry - Annual Report 2016 (External link) An assessment of the Victorian Government's progress of the recommendations from the 2014 and 2015–16 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry reports, in line with the Victorian Government Implementation Plan and its 246 actions to address the recommendations and affirmations. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2016 Targeting zero, the review of hospital safety and quality assurance in Victoria (External link) A review detailing how DHHS oversees and supports quality and safety of care across the Victorian hospital system, it highlighted several missed opportunities where practice excellence was not shared across the system. Department of Health and Human Services
2016 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry 2015-16 (External link) In 2014 the Victorian Government held the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry from February to September 2014. This inquiry was reopened on 26 May 2015 with a new Terms of Reference to examine a range of new issues including what measures are available to improve the health of the Latrobe Valley communities in relation to any health impacts identified by the Board as being associated with the Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire. Board of Inquiry into the Hazelwood Mine Fire
2016 The Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Outcomes Framework (External link) An outcomes framework to provide a transparent approach to monitoring and reporting progress in the collective efforts to improve health and wellbeing of Victorians, it sets out indicators drawn from multiple data sources to track progression. Department of Health and Human Services
2017 Review of response to the thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016 – Final Report (External link) A review identifying opportunities to learn from the thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016. It made findings and recommendations relating to gathering and sharing information and the triggers for activation and escalation of incident management arrangements for rapid-onset emergencies. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2017 Department of Health’s Coordination of Communicable Disease Emergencies (External link) Australia’s communicable disease emergency response arrangements are based on the premise that health authorities and healthcare providers are in a constant state of preparedness and response. The audit's objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s strategies for managing a communicable disease emergency. It makes eight findings and three recommendations in support of better practices. Australian National Audit Office
2017 Review of response to the thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016 – Preliminary Report (External link) A preliminary report of IGEM's review of the response to Victoria’s thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016. Inspector-General for Emergency Management