Ovens Murray Public Health Unit (OM PHU)

Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) works closely with the Ovens Murray Public Health Unit (OM PHU) on delivering better health outcomes for people from the Central Hume region.

The OM PHU was established in January 2021, initially to oversee the organisation’s role in responding to the global pandemic, COVID-19. It was formerly known as the Albury Wodonga Public Health Unit.

It is directly responsible for the public health response for five local government areas, namely Alpine, Indigo, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga, and provides an independent operational function that contributes to a national comprehensive response to the pandemic.

Upon inception, the unit’s priority was to implement the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, in addition to testing and rapid response, contact tracing, case and outbreak management.

Within the first 10 weeks of operation, the OM PHU vaccination team established the region’s first major vaccination hub in Wodonga. It also provided critical region-wide outreach programs to all public aged care facilities and created a second “sub-hub” in Wangaratta.

During the past year the team has responded to repeated surges in demand driven by local positive wastewater results, and Public Health Orders impacting the NSW and Victorian borders. It also provided the public health response and ensured COVID-19 testing and vaccination was accessible to the community and that contact tracing and quarantining occurred to minimise public exposure.

The unit, through the local contact tracing team, also provided support to the Department of Health to interview primary and secondary close contacts of known exposure sites, assisting to identify possible new exposure sites. These efforts helped to keep the community safe and supported the welfare of those in quarantine.

In addition to testing, vaccination and contact tracing, the OM PHU has provided local businesses with assistance in complying with public health order processes, restrictions and obligations to maintain safe and continuing business practices.

The team has continued close collaboration with Murrumbidgee Local Health District and other regional health services to maintain strong communication and effective pandemic response services to the community.

In May 2022, staff from the Central Hume and Upper Hume Primary Care Partnerships officially began working as part of the OM PHU.