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
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 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 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Implementation of recommendations and affirmations - Progress Report 2021 (External link) IGEM’s sixth report as sole monitor on the progress of the implementation of recommendations and affirmations from the 2014 and 2015–16 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry reports, it summarises implementation progress to August 2021, of the eight government actions and one recommendation directed to the Latrobe Valley coal mine operators that were reported as in progress in IGEM’s Progress Report 2020. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2022 Business Continuity during COVID-19 (External link) An examination of all eight Victorian Government departments - plus IT provider Cenitex - on their preparation for a major disruption prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and if plans were effectively implemented to maintain prioritised services during the pandemic. Victorian Auditor-General's Office
2021 Management of International Travel Restrictions during COVID-19 (External link) An audit conducted to provide independent assurance that Australia’s COVID-19 international travel restrictions have been managed effectively.
The Auditor-General made six recommendations relating to: clearly communicating border clearance processes; planning for future travel restrictions; updating the response plan; obtaining data on quarantine; and better managing travel exemption refusal processes.
Australian National Audit Office
2021 The widening divide in Melbourne: How COVID-19 transmission through the city increased existing inequality. (External link) An examination of the unequal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it further exacerbated Melbourne’s existing income inequality - while many suffered job losses, others were able to substantially increase their household savings.
KPMG Australia
2021 Infectious Disease Resilience (External link) A report providing context around the impacts and drivers of zoonotic disease risks as well as introducing areas of focus on further improving Australia’s preparedness for future zoonotic infectious disease outbreaks. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
2021 Creating a Healthy Future: The impact of Victorian Government investment in health and medical research (External link) An evaluations of Victoria’s systematic investment in the medical research and biotechnology system, it highlights the sector's role in the rapid response to the coronavirus pandemic and how investment across areas such as infectious disease, epidemiology, immunology research, public health and advanced manufacturing and clinical trials capabilities created an environment able to rapidly respond to the coronavirus crisis. Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
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
2021 More than a band-aid: Emergency relief in Victoria (External link) An overview of Victoria's emergency relief sector, drawn from existing research and consultation with emergency relief organisation. The report examines the impacts of the pandemic on the emergency relief sector, and on demand and provision of food relief – as well as the policy responses from both Australian and Victorian governments. The report provides a range of recommendations for both governments to help prevent people falling into financial crisis, and to strengthen the emergency relief sector for the benefit of those who do. Victorian Council of Social Service