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. 

All links in the table below will open in a new window.
Publish year Assurance activity Summary Organisation
2021 COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities (External link) An independent review into COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities, commissioned by the Australian government Independent
2021 Inquiry into the health impacts of air pollution in Victoria (External link) The report makes 16 findings and 35 recommendations on actions to minimise the health impacts of air pollution. Exposure to common air pollutants can exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, lead to premature death and cost the Victorian economy hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Vehicle transport, electricity generation, heavy industry, bushfires and dust storms all contribute to poor air quality.

Parliament of Victoria
2021 Investigation into decision making under the Victorian Border Crossing Permit Directions (External link) An investigation into Victorian Border Crossing Permit Directions introduced to manage the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis including matters raised by 315 complainants.
The report acknowledges that the decisions to issue the Border Directions during Victoria’s public health emergency were not unjustified or unreasonable, but makes 2 recommendations to remove the complex and constrained bureaucracy which led to some unjust and inhumane outcomes.
Independent
2021 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry - Progress Report 2020 (External link) An assessment of progress in implementing recommendations and affirmations from the 2014 and 2015–16 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry reports. In this report IGEM monitors 11 government actions and 1 recommendation that were reported as ongoing in 2019. The report finds that some actions are close to completion, and others involve complex legislative reforms that require time to fully implement. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2021 Strengthening our health communication systems: pandemic lessons for Melbourne’s west (External link) An identification of the elements of an effective health communication system, this report draws upon literature from COVID-19 and other pandemic or emergency responses and provides detailed recommendations for regions, governments and local implementers, including considerations for engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Independent
2021 COVID-19 procurements and deployments of the National Medical Stockpile (External link) An audit examining whether COVID-19 procurements to increase the national medical stockpile (NMS) were consistent with the proper use and management of public resources and whether COVID-19 deployments of the NMS were effective.
Key findings were that the procurement processes for the COVID-19 NMS procurements were largely consistent with the proper use and management of public resources, inconsistent due diligence checks of suppliers impacted on procurement effectiveness and record keeping could have been improved and that due to a lack of performance measures, targets and data, the effectiveness of COVID-19 NMS deployments cannot be established.
Australian National Audit Office
2020 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry - Annual Report 2019 (External link) An assessment of progress in implementing recommendations and affirmations from the 2014 and 2015–16 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry reports. In this report IGEM extended its reporting to include effectiveness monitoring of three completed actions, which provided further assurance that implemented actions have achieved their objectives. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2020 National Contact Tracing Review (External link) An examination of COVID-19 contact tracing and outbreak management systems and processes in all states and territories. The report found significant improvements to systems and processes over the course of the pandemic but identified areas for further improvement. It also proposed an optimal contact tracing and outbreak management system for states and territories to evaluate performance against. Australian Government
2020 Inquiry into the Victorian Government's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic - Interim Report (External link) A review of the responses taken by the Victorian Government, including as part of the National Cabinet, to manage the COVID-19 pandemic; and any other matter related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parliament of Victoria
2020 Inquiry into the Victorian Government's COVID-19 Contact Tracing System and Testing Regime (External link) A report into to the capacity and fitness for purpose of Victoria's contact tracing system and testing regime, it found that the use of manual data entry processes at the beginning of the pandemic was not fit to deal with any escalation of cases and led to significant error. The report recommended enhancing the public health system towards a more decentralised, community-based approach. Parliament of Victoria