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
2024 ACOSS Summer Heat Survey 2024 (External link) Heatwaves are by far the greatest cause of extreme weather-related deaths. Climate change is exacerbating the intensity and duration of hot conditions – but many homes are not built to withstand them. This report makes 10 recommendations towards cooler, healthier and more climate-resilient homes, putting people with the least at the centre of government policy and planning. Independent
2023 Let’s talk about the weather: injuries related to extreme weather (External link) The past decade has seen increasing injuries related to extreme weather – such as heatwaves, bushfires and storms. With the exception of Tasmania, exposure to excessive natural heat was the most common cause leading to injury hospitalisation for all states and territories. The report suggests opportunities to develop weather-related injury surveillance systems.
Australian Government
2023 Accessing formal supports in Australia: the experiences of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women with disabilities (External link) An exploration of challenges faced by CALD women and girls with disabilities in accessing vital support systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights barriers within health and disability sectors and provides insights and recommendations to foster equity and inclusivity. Independent
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
2023 Sick and tired: Casting a long shadow (Inquiry into Long COVID and Repeated COVID Infections) (External link) The primary focus of this inquiry was the national management of long COVID, with further attention being placed on additional effects of this condition including the economic and mental health impacts, potential treatment and management options, and repeated COVID infections. The report makes 9 recommendations towards better healthcare for all. Parliament of Australia
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 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
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 Review of Victoria's emergency ambulance call answer performance COVID-19 pandemic-related 000 demand surge (External link) A review that examines and assesses both ESTA’s and the broader emergency management sector’s planning and preparedness for a major surge in emergency ambulance calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The review also examines how the sector responded to the surge in emergency ambulance calls, the effectiveness of its response, and collaborative efforts to address the challenges. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2022 Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout (External link) A performance audit conducted under phase two of the ANAO’s multi-year strategy, it focuses on the effective, efficient, economical and ethical delivery of the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The audit found that while 90 per cent of the eligible Australian population was vaccinated by the end of 2021, the planning and implementation of the vaccine rollout to priority groups was not as effective - it makes ten findings and two recommendations regarding improvement opportunities in the event of a future vaccination rollout. Australian National Audit Office