15 December 2016

The Inspector-General for Emergency Management invites public submissions to their review of the emergency response to the thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016.

From 6pm on 21 November 2016, Ambulance Victoria and hospital emergency departments across Melbourne saw an unprecedented surge in patients with asthma and respiratory distress. This was most likely associated with the late evening thunderstorms and high pollen levels.

The Victorian Government has requested the Inspector-General to review the emergency response to the Melbourne thunderstorm asthma event looking at:

  • the appropriateness and adequacy of the response under the Public Health Response Plan during events of 21 and 22 November, including the speed of escalation
  • the role of, and coordination between, Emergency Management Commissioner, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other relevant agencies in respect of this public health event, and the adequacy of support provided to emergency and public health services
  • the triggers for, and provision of, public warnings and information and health advice, taking account of predictability, preventive steps and methods of distribution available for this type of emergency
  • the identification of any other relevant matters or opportunities for improvement.

The primary goal of this review is to identify opportunities to learn from this event in order to improve future preparedness and response arrangements and performance. This includes the provision of recommendations, where required, about potential improvements to future public health emergency planning and response arrangements.

“Submissions will be used to identify how we can improve the emergency management arrangements, build stronger connections with communities, and enable our communities to be better prepared to respond to the consequences of emergencies,” Inspector-General for Emergency Management, Mr Tony Pearce said.

The Inspector-General will provide their preliminary report to government by 30 January 2017 and their final report by 21 April 2017. 

Public submissions addressing the lines of enquiry must be received by 5pm, Monday 30 January 2017 and will be used to inform the Inspector-General’s final report.

For information on how submissions will be used and to make a submission visit myviews.justice.vic.gov.au (External link)