Go to top of page

Part 1.1: Department Overview

The Department of Health is a Department of State. In 2018-19 we operated under the Public Service Act 1999 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

Our History

The Commonwealth Department of Health was established in 1921, in part as a response to the devastating effects of the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1919, and through the vision of
Dr J H L Cumpston, the first head of the Department.

The Department of Health has continued to evolve over the last 98 years, and has undergone a number of changes in name, function and structure.

Our Vision

Better health and wellbeing for all Australians, now and for future generations.

Our Purpose

To support government and stakeholders to lead and shape Australia’s health and aged care system and sporting outcomes through evidence-based policy, well targeted programs, and best practice regulation.

We have a diverse set of responsibilities, including policy advising, program implementation, supporting scientific research, evaluation, regulation and compliance.

Our Commitment

We are committed to delivering the Government’s major health reforms under the 10 year health plan based on key pillars and supported by major initiatives including:

  • guaranteeing Medicare and improving access to medicines;
  • supporting our hospitals;
  • prioritising mental health and preventive health;
  • reshaping Australian sport;
  • life-saving and job creating medical research;
  • ageing and aged care; and
  • a stronger rural health strategy.

We are committed to working in partnership with stakeholders to develop, implement and oversee policies and programs that are coherent, connected and evidence-based. We are committed to learning from, and sharing our experience and expertise, with partners in Australia and around the world and improving health in the region and globally. We are committed to being a high performance organisation focused on improving workforce capability across the Department, to provide high quality advice and deliver key reforms and priorities. We are committed to an inclusive, collaborative workplace.