Chapter 2 - Managing biosecurity risk: human health

The formal consultation process on the draft legislation closed on 24 October 2012. All the submissions made as part of the initial phase of the consultation were considered and where appropriate amendments were made to the draft legislation.

The Biosecurity Bill 2012 and the Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill were introduced into Parliament on 28 November 2012.

The second chapter of the Biosecurity Bill is one of four chapters that relate to human health provisions of the Bill.

Page last updated: 20 February 2013

Key points

  • The new legislation will allow for the continued management of human health risks at Australia’s borders.
  • Human health risks will be managed using a Human Biosecurity Control Order.
  • There is a broad range of measures that may be used to respond to the threat of serious communicable diseases, which are called Listed Human Diseases.
  • The Minister of Health has powers to prevent, manage, and respond to outbreaks of a Listed Human Disease.

  • Full chapter

    The full second chapter of the Biosecurity Bill 2012 can be downloaded below.
    Biosecurity Bill 2012, Chapter 2 - Managing biosecurity risks: human health (PDF 268 KB)
    Biosecurity Bill 2012, Chapter 2 - Managing biosecurity risks: human health (Word 308 KB)

    Summary

    Overview

    Chapter 2 of the Biosecurity Bill 2012 (the Bill) reflects our current understanding of the spread, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

    Similar to the Quarantine Act 1908 the Biosecurity Bill identifies the pests and communicable diseases that pose the most serious risk to public health in Australia and provides powers to prevent the entry, emergence, establishment and spread of these Listed Human Diseases.

    Human biosecurity

    In order to prevent the entry of Listed Human Diseases into Australia, the Biosecurity Bill will continue to set requirements for incoming international vessels, aircraft and passengers. This may include: a requirement for incoming passengers to provide information about where they have travelled or to make declarations about their health status; that incoming aircraft are free from exotic insects that may carry disease; and for screening of passengers arriving in Australia from a country where there is a known outbreak of a Listed Human Disease.

    Human biosecurity control orders

    If an ill individual is identified at Australia’s borders, biosecurity officers will be able to ask questions to determine if the individual has a sign or symptom of a Listed Human Disease, or has been exposed to a Listed Human Disease. If the officer believes that an individual may be infected, they will be placed under a Human Biosecurity Control Order and biosecurity measures applied, which must be undertaken by the ill individual.

    The Quarantine Act is very restrictive in its ability to manage ill individuals and only allows for ill or potentially ill individuals to be ordered into quarantine, vaccinated or directed to take medication. The Biosecurity Bill will provide for a range of biosecurity measures to manage the Listed Human Disease risk to the individual and the community health risks. For example, an ill individual could be simply required to provide contact details to allow contact tracing, directed to stay at home for a period, directed to wear protective equipment such as a mask or directed to report their health status regularly. An ill individual may also be moved to a medical facility for diagnosis, treatment and/or isolation in some circumstances.

    It is recognised that some of the biosecurity measures that may be used to address the risk of a Listed Human Disease are personally invasive; therefore the individual must give their consent to these measures. Once an individual is under a biosecurity control order, if consent is not given, directions for an individual to undertake personally invasive measures can be given by the Director of Human Biosecurity after a request is received from a chief human biosecurity officer, a human biosecurity officer or a biosecurity officer. An individual may apply for a review of a direction given in this manner.

    When applying a Human Biosecurity Control Order, the officer must be satisfied that any measures will be effective in preventing or managing the spread of the Listed Human Disease; they must also ensure that any measures directed to be undertaken are the least intrusive and restrictive available to manage the risk. Individuals may seek review in a number of ways including internal review, merits review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), review under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977, or review through the courts.

    If the ill individual is a child, or is incapable of giving consent, then consent must be gained from an authorised person such as a parent or guardian. If the ill individual is not an Australian citizen, they must be allowed to contact their consulate as soon as practicable.

    Human biosecurity control zones

    Currently, powers that allow for the management and response to a serious communicable disease outbreak require the declaration of an emergency. The new legislation gives the Minister of Health powers to allow for the prevention, management and response to localised outbreaks of a Listed Human Disease using a Human Biosecurity Response Zone. This is a specified area, where the Minister may give directions and take actions to prevent or manage the spread of a Listed Human Disease. This can include limiting the people who can enter the zone, and setting requirements for people who are entering or leaving the zone.

    The new legislation will also have powers to prevent the international spread of a Listed Human Disease, including the ability to screen departing passengers in special circumstances. In the event an ill individual poses a significant risk to the community by travelling on an overseas passenger aircraft or vessel, the new legislation will also provide that a Traveller Movement Restriction may be applied, preventing them from leaving Australia on overseas passenger ships and aircraft for a specified period.