Notifiable diseases surveillance, 1917 to 1991

This report prepared in 1993 by Dr Robert Hall, and published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence, provides an historical overview of notifiable diseases in Australia from 1917 to 1991.

Page last updated: 17 July 2003


This report was compiled by Dr Robert Hall and published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence in 1993 (Commun Dis Intell 1993;17:226-236).

Notifiable diseases data are collected by States and Territories under their public health legislation. This legislation has required medical practitioners, and some other classes of people, to notify health authorities of certain communicable and other diseases. These data have been collected on a national basis since 1917. For the years 1917 to 1922 national data were published in the Medical Journal of Australia. From 1924 until the Second World War data were published in Health, the journal of the former Commonwealth Department of Health. After the war the Commonwealth Year Book published the data and this continued to the time of writing this report. Additionally, the Commonwealth Department of Health and its successors have published data in the Department's Annual Report. These sources have been used to prepare an historical overview of notifiable diseases in Australia from 1917 to 1991.

Notifiable diseases surveillance, 1917 to 1991 (PDF file 529KB)

Data availability

Data presented in this article are available as a Excel spreadsheet file. The file contains numbers of notifications for each of the recorded categories by State or Territory and by year, Australian Bureau of Statistics mid-year population estimates by State or territory and by year, national notification rates by recorded category by year and recoding rules.

Notifiable diseases surveillance, 1917 to 1991 data (MS Excel file 434KB)

In 1991 the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System was established and data from this point onwards has been published in the Commonwealth Department of Health's journal Communicable Diseases Intelligence. These data are also available from the Communicable Diseases Australia website.

If you are unable to download any of these files please email:

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