A major public health emergency is an extensive biological or biohazard event that is causing or has the potential to cause loss of life or serious risk to public health, significant adverse consequences for the Victorian community, and threatens to overwhelm the public health and healthcare systems.
Preparedness for all emergencies relies upon the existence and awareness of sound governance arrangements and operational plans. Those involved in the prevention, response and recovery of emergencies also need to have the authority, capability and capacity to enact the plans and arrangements. Ideally, these incorporate both foresight and flexibility.
Being prepared for major public health emergencies requires planning, testing, practising and refining of arrangements in a range of ways. People who contribute to the response, relief and recovery in these emergencies must also have the capability and capacity to enact these processes.
The Review of Victoria’s preparedness for major public health emergencies, including pandemics provides a broad examination of the State’s preparedness for such emergencies, specifically major emergencies, which will test the emergency management sector’s capability and capacity to respond.
Initiated under IGEM’s Annual Forward Plan of Reviews – 2021, this review follows on from previous reviews of sector preparedness, focusing specifically on major public health emergencies, which are not considered typical or as well-practised.
The review considered six different cases to contextualise Victoria's preparedness for major public health emergencies:
- the COVID-19 pandemic
- blue green algae
- epidemic thunderstorm asthma
In its report, IGEM makes 27 observations, 41 findings, and 7 recommendations identifying good practice and opportunities for continuous improvement.
If implemented these recommendations will provide opportunities to strengthen Victoria’s preparedness for future major public health emergencies.
The Review of Victoria’s preparedness for major public health emergencies, including pandemics was published on 3 September 2022. The report is available in PDF format from the link below or you can view as a flipbook (External link)
Victorian Government response
On 3 September 2022, the Victorian Government responded to IGEM's Review of Victoria’s preparedness for major public health emergencies, accepting the findings and supporting-in-principle the review's seven recommendations.
The review provides critical insights into Victoria's preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and opportunities for continuous improvement.
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