During an emergency, the Department of Health & Human Services has a number of responsibilities related to planning, preparing, response and recovery.

Emergencies such as bushfires and floods, heatwaves and pandemic influenza, may affect the health and wellbeing of Victorians, and during these emergencies the department coordinates multiple agencies to ensure an integrated response from public hospitals, community health centres and the broader health sector.

Emergencies planning, preparing and responding

Planning and response for an emergency with major health consequences 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
  • implementing legislation, programs and monitoring procedures to minimise public health risk from infectious disease, contaminated food, contaminated water supplies and radiation
  • acting as a control agency for human disease or epidemics, food or drinking water contamination and incidents which involve radiological substances and intentional biological releases
  • coordinating deployment of qualified health professionals in response to interstate or Commonwealth requests.

State health control

As outlined in the Emergency management manual Victoria (EMMV), the Department of Health & Human Services has incident control responsibilities for:

  • retail food contamination
  • human disease
  • biological materials
  • radiological materials
  • food or drinking water contamination.

Expertise, authority and accountability

The expertise to deal with public health incidents and emergencies resides with the Health Protection Branch. The authority and accountability rests, under current legislation and regulations, with the Chief Health Officer.

State health command and coordination

State health emergency response plan

The State health emergency response plan (SHERP) describes the arrangements for state health command and coordination involving pre-hospital care, patient transport, receiving hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The SHERP is a subplan of the Victorian state emergency response plan

Now in its third edition, the SHERP has been updated to incorporate and replace a number of previously separate documents as follows:

  • Victorian state health command plan 2012
  • Hospital resilience Code Brown policy framework 2008
  • Victorian burns plan 2006
  • General practice subplan
  • Field primary care response subplan.

All health and emergency service workers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the revised edition.

State health emergency response plan - third edition
State health emergency response plan - summary
Guidelines for multiple burns casualties
Victorian Medical Assistance Team protocol
Victorian Medical Assistance Team policy

State Health Incident Management Team

The State Health Incident Management Team (S-HIMT) is responsible for providing functional command and maintaining whole-of-health situational awareness during emergencies with significant health consequences. They work closely with (and support) rural regions in response to an emergency with actual or potential significant health consequences.

The S-HIMT was developed to support the State Health and Medical Commander to oversee both pre-hospital and broader health sector activities during emergency incidents.

The S-HIMT reflects the contributions of aged care, primary health and mental health in emergency management planning and response.