National Incident Centre

The National Incident Centre (NIC) coordinates national responses to health emergencies, significant events and emerging threats, where there is an impact on human health or health systems.

About the National Incident Centre

The NIC is the Department of Health’s emergency response centre. It coordinates national responses to health emergencies by organising response and recovery operations between:

  • Australian Government, and state and territory government health authorities
  • other Commonwealth operations centres
  • the international health community

The NIC is also responsible for undertaking the duties and responsibilities of Australia’s National International Health Regulations (IHR) Focal Point, as designated by the International Health Regulations (2005).

Why it is important

The NIC ensures a consistent, coordinated response to health emergencies in Australia. This makes best use of our national health resources in crisis situations and minimises duplication of effort across government agencies.

Meeting our goals

The NIC manages the logistics of providing support to affected jurisdictions such as:

  • distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) held by the National Medical Stockpile
  • publishing information on the Health website
  • providing information to help states and territories respond to the situation, including data for contact tracing and public health follow up

We also fund the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC), based at the Royal Darwin Hospital. The NCCTRC is ready at all times to respond to national health emergencies.

When the NIC is activated

The NIC is activated by the Chief Medical Officer when we identify a significant event or emerging threat.

Emergencies that would lead to the activation of the NIC include:

  • outbreaks of communicable disease, such as a pandemic
  • chemical, biological or radiological incidents, whether accidental or criminal
  • earthquakes or floods causing mass casualties
  • emergencies requiring the deployment of Australian medical personnel

How it works

Once activated, the NIC:

  • hosts emergency meetings of the AHPPC and other expert health committees
  • provides technical advice to committees and government
  • gathers information to help inform decision making
  • coordinates distribution of the National Medical Stockpile
  • keeps the community informed with health-related news updates
  • carries out health aspects of Australian Government disaster plans
  • coordinates medical response teams
  • monitors and, where possible, supports laboratory capacity and capability to test for emerging communicable diseases
  • liaises with emergency management sectors in other government agencies across Australia
  • provides outcomes, situation reports and ministerial briefings
  • conducts risk assessments and evaluations of national capacity and capability
  • collaborates with other agencies on border health issues
  • anticipates next steps and develops information resources to assist with planning and decision making

Where the NIC is located

The NIC is located within Health’s Canberra buildings. Other strategic locations may also be used as needed.

Who is involved

While active, the NIC draws on staff from a number of areas including:

  • Health
  • the Department of Home Affairs
  • the Department of Defence
  • the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • state and territory health authorities

Previous activations

The NIC has been activated in response to many emergencies, including:

  • Japanese Encephalitis Virus, 2022
  • Mpox (formally known as Monkeypox), 2022
  • Global COVID-19 pandemic, 2020-2023
  • White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand, 2019
  • National bushfire crisis, 2019
  • Measles outbreak in Samoa, 2019
  • Queensland and Victorian floods, 2011
  • Tropical Cyclone Yasi, 2011
  • Christchurch earthquake, 2011
  • Pakistan floods, 2010
  • Suspected Irregular Entry Vessel (SIEV) sinking Christmas Island, 2010
  • Victorian bushfires, 2009
  • Pandemic (H1N1) influenza or swine flu 2009
  • Suspected Irregular Entry Vessel (SIEV) explosion Ashmore Reef, 2009
  • Pacific tsunami, 2009
  • Yogyakarta air crash, 2007
  • Java earthquake, 2006
  • Bali bombings, 2005
  • Indian Ocean tsunami, 2004
  • SARS outbreak, 2003

Learn more

Find out more about the NIC by reading:

National Health Emergency Response Arrangements

These arrangements describe how we respond to national health emergencies. It covers how the various Australian health sector authorities work together to respond to these situations. They are part of the Australian Government’s National Security Framework.

National Health Security Agreement

This agreement establishes a framework for clear, quick and informed decision making to support a coordinated national response to public health emergencies.


National Incident Centre contact

Contact us if you have any questions about the National Incident Centre.
Date last updated:

Help us improve

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.