Department of Health

The Department of Health (DH) works to minimise the impact of emergencies on individuals, communities, and the health system. The department plans and prepares for the health response in emergencies, including consequence planning, community preparedness, and capability planning for the health system.

Planning and preparing for emergencies in collaboration with other key stakeholders is an essential role for the department.

Emergency management planning

Planning for and responding to an emergency may involve:

  • developing capability for prevention, preparation, response and recovery across the hospital, primary health and aged care sectors
  • leading planning across all Victorian health services
  • directing the strategic health response and preparing for emergencies with major health consequences implementing legislation and programs, and monitoring procedures to minimise public health risk from communicable and non-communicable diseases (such as epidemic thunderstorm asthma), contaminated food, contaminated drinking water supplies, extreme heat and radiation
  • acting as a control agency for human disease or epidemics, food or drinking water contamination and incidents that involve radiological substances and intentional biological releases
  • coordinating deployment of qualified health professionals in response to interstate or Commonwealth requests
  • planning for clients and services, as set out in the Emergency preparedness clients and services policy.

Mitigation activities for emergencies

The department participates in mitigation activities for emergencies, including bushfires, hazardous materials incidents, heatwaves, viral pandemics and water supply disruptions. 

  • Bushfires: community education, awareness and engagement to prevent and respond to bushfire smoke
  • Hazardous materials: reduction of HAZMAT use (including inventory minimisation); HAZMAT storage design and maintenance (including design of transport arrangements, consequence modelling and readiness)
  • Extreme heat: education and community resilience for heatwaves; response planning for extreme heat; maintenance of the Heat Health Alert system
  • Viral pandemics: vaccination; maintaining health guidelines and relevant standards of codes; community education; health sector pandemic planning, surge capacity planning; surveillance and modelling data from outbreaks, research of historic events
  • Water supply disruption: maintaining legislative framework and regulations

More detailed information on the department’s responsibilities before an emergency can be found in the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP).

Emergency management in Victoria

The State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) contains policy and planning for emergency management in Victoria and provides details about the roles different organisations play in the emergency management arrangements.

The State Health Emergency Response Plan (SHERP) describes the arrangements for the management of health emergencies in Victoria. It is used by people working in emergency services, such as paramedics, doctors, nurses and people working in public health, to help them effectively coordinate health services for the community during emergencies.

Emergency management legislation

The Emergency Management Act 2013 established Emergency Management Victoria (EMV), which leads the Victorian Government’s emergency management reform agenda.

Further information about the role of EMV and emergency management in Victoria can be found on the EMV website.

The Emergency Management Act 1986 and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 also form part of Victoria’s emergency management legislation.

Reviewed 10 January 2022

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