Australian communicable diseases strategies and frameworks

Find out how Australia prevents and controls communicable disease.

National Framework for Communicable Disease Control

Australia has a National Framework for Communicable Disease Control. Federal, state and territory governments have agreed on this framework to help protect Australians from communicable diseases.

One objective of the framework is to improve how we prevent, detect and respond to communicable diseases. Another is to improve how we organise and deliver this.

The framework gives roles and responsibilities to states and territories and the Australian Government. The system is based on 4 main functions:

  • consistent surveillance and laboratory testing
  • preparedness and response
  • evidence-based prevention policy
  • public health communications.

Under this framework, public health practices used should have good evidence of their effectiveness. The way we test and monitor for nationally notifiable diseases should be consistent across the country. This includes how laboratories test for diseases.

Learn more about nationally notifiable diseases.

Outbreak response plans

We have plans to help us respond to outbreaks of communicable disease. These include:

COVID-19 outbreak response

Find out how we’re responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and who we’re working with to limit the spread of the virus.

Polio outbreak response plan

Australia is free of polio, so any case of polio that arises is considered a national public health emergency.

We have developed a polio outbreak response plan.

Find out more about our polio surveillance program and our outbreak risk assessment.  

Syphilis outbreak response

A syphilis outbreak is affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in northern, central, western and southern Australia.

We developed a national strategic approach and a monitoring plan to address this outbreak.


Some communicable diseases or other substances could be used as biological weapons. If harmful agents were released, they could greatly affect humans, our environment and economy.

Therefore, we regulate these substances. We have a Security Sensitive Biological Agents Regulatory Scheme to limit opportunities for bioterrorism.

Learn more about emergency health management.

International engagement

As a World Health Organization (WHO) member, Australia agrees to collect data on, report about and respond to communicable diseases.

The WHO International Health Regulations require members to monitor for and respond to diseases. This helps the international community respond to health emergencies that can cross borders. Learn more about the international health regulations.

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