What we do

Introduction to the work undertaken by the Health Protection and Surveillance Branch, Office of Health Protection, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Page last updated: 06 March 2012

The Health Protection and Surveillance Branch provides national leadership, policy advice, analysis, coordination and communication of health protection strategies and responses to emerging and current Communicable Disease threats to the Australian population, in partnership with jurisdictions and other stakeholders.

The key activities of the branch are governed by responsibilities under international legislation requirements, Commonwealth legislation requirements and Budget Measures as outlined below.

Management of human health at the border including, administration of the human health components of the Quarantine Act 1908 and implementation of International Health Regulations (2005) requirements.

The National Health Security (NHS) Act gives effect to the International Health Regulation(IHRs) at the national level. It provides for a national system of public health surveillance to enhance the capacity of the Commonwealth and the States and Territories to identify and respond to public health events of national significance including communicable disease outbreaks. It provides for the sharing of information with the World Health Organization and countries affected by a public health event.

The Branch is responsible for a range of surveillance activities that emerge from these international and national responsibilities. This includes:

  • development and maintenance of policies, systems for surveillance and analysis of communicable and emerging infectious diseases;
  • National coordination of surveillance through the Communicable Diseases Network Australia:
  • ongoing review of the National Notifiable Disease List and collect data and information; and
  • establishment of sentinel surveillance programs (such as for influenza surveillance) and laboratory analyses (such as strain typing for particular diseases).
Implementation of the Budget Measure to investigate food borne disease outbreaks through OzFoodNet.

Delivery of human health aspects of the Government’s biosecurity reforms which respond to the Beale Review into Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity arrangements, including the development of new legislation to replace the Quarantine Act 1908 and the development of strategic approaches for current health risks in Australia.

Liaison with other Australian Government agencies and international fora on international and cross border health protection and surveillance matters. This includes the management of Torres Strait Cross Border Health Issues in consultation with DFAT, PM&C, AusAid and Qld Health including chairing the Health Issues Committee.

Management of the Health Surveillance Fund established to provide a flexible funding pool for grant and non-grant funding for surveillance activities required by the Department, for example, detecting communicable disease outbreaks and monitoring the impact of interventions to prevent and respond to chronic disease across the continuum of care.

Delivering on the Government’s commitment to implement the recommendations from the strategic review of the National Medical Stockpile Budget Measure through the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) Taskforce,

Contribute to the development of a national communicable disease strategy and pandemic planning.