Date published: 
23 July 2017
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Turnbull Government is providing $27 million to strengthen the planning and response to a national health emergency, should one be triggered by bioterrorist attack or contagious disease outbreak.

This funding will support the detection and identification of biological agents of security concern and high risk contagious diseases.

The security and safety of every single Australian is our number one priority.

We are taking action to minimise the impact of any unforseen health risks which may be caused by naturally occurring disease outbreaks and deliberate bioterrorist actions.

Although the likelihood of a threat of this type occurring is low, the Turnbull Government is taking steps to ensure the nation is prepared.

Under the Health Protection Program, the activity will be delivered by three organisations:

  • The National High Security Quarantine Laboratory — The secure facility is Australia's primary laboratory for the detection of highly lethal viruses infecting humans. The facility is at a constant state of readiness to detect and identify high risk pathogens such as Ebola and, haemorrhagic fevers, smallpox, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and biological agents of security concern.
  • The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza — The Centre is the only one based in the southern hemisphere and provides advice on vaccines, antiviral susceptibility and risk assessment. This Centre ensures Australia has rapid access to information on influenza viruses with pandemic potential and informs responses to an influenza pandemic.
  • The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Biosecurity Quality Assurance Program — Enables laboratories and scientists to be up-to-date with other jurisdictions around the world in their knowledge and capability to rapidly detect biological agents of security concern and high risk contagious diseases.

We have one of the world’s best health systems and this funding will ensure we continue to be vigilant in our planning and support to protect the health of Australians.

This was also reflected in the Budget where we secured the supply of uniquely Australian antivenoms, Q fever and pandemic influenza vaccines.

Access to medicines and operational capability that supports the response to a national health emergency has been boosted by our $85.4 million investment over three years in the National Medicine Stockpile.