When the Australian Government was established in 1901, it had limited involvement in public health issues, with the exception of quarantine. This has remained largely unchanged with the States taking a major responsibility for public health management of communicable diseases.
The 1908 Quarantine Act sets out the Australian Government responsibilities in the area of human quarantine. The act has been amended over time, with the most recent changes for human health in 2003.
Public health legislation in each State and Territory mandates the reporting of certain diseases by medical practitioners, hospitals, and/or laboratories to the relevant State or Territory Communicable Diseases Unit. Notifications are collected at the State/Territory level, and computerised, de-identified records are sent to the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for collation into the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) for analysis at a national level. NNDSS was established in consultation with the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA).
The following links provide access to relevant public health legislation for each of the Australian States and Territories and to the Commonwealth Quarantine Act.
Australian Capital TerritoryPublic Health Act 1997
New South WalesNotification of Infectious Diseases under the Public Health Act 1991
Northern TerritoryNotifiable Diseases Act
QueenslandPublic Health Act
South AustraliaPublic Health Legislation in South Australia
TasmaniaPublic Health Legislation and Guidelines
VictoriaVictorian Legislation and Supporting Information relevant to Health Services Providers
Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Surveillance
Western AustraliaWestern Australian Legislation
Commonwealth legislationQuarantine Act 1908
Quarantine Amendment (Health) Bill 2003
National Health Security Act 2007
National Health Security (National Notifiable Disease List) Instrument 2008
National Health Security Agreement