About the Western Public Health Unit
The Western Public Health Unit (WPHU) is one of nine public health units across Victoria, established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Unit sits within Western Health.
The Unit is funded by the Victorian Government and works closely with the Victorian Department of Health to deliver services for Melbourne’s west and parts of the north west of the city. The Unit sits within the Western Health network.
Located at Sunshine Hospital, we use our local knowledge and understanding of our communities and suburbs to address our current primary objective – STOP COVID. FAST. To achieve this objective, we provide:
- contract tracing for COVID-19 cases in the region we serve
- support, care and information for community members with COVID-19 and primary close contacts
- direct advice to help people understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
With the current high number of cases in the region we serve, our focus is on the highest risk settings and responding to these. During this phase, we will have much less interaction with cases in low risk settings or where we know that the household is already in quarantine.
At present, our focus is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In future, as WPHU continues to grow, we will also be supporting our community to stop the spread of other communicable diseases, and improve wider public health in the west.
Who works in the Western Public Health Unit?
The WPHU is a multidisciplinary team with a range of expertise. Most of the team are registered health professionals such as nurses, doctors and allied health professionals. Many have specialist qualifications in public health.
Our team is made up of public health doctors, infectious diseases doctors, infection prevention nurses, epidemiologists, public health officers, contact tracers, administration officers and communication advisors. Each team member is integral to the overall work of the WPHU.
The Director of the Western Public Health Unit is Dr Finn Romanes and the Divisional Director with responsibility for the WPHU is Kathryn Cranwell.
The Western Public Health Unit acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and learn, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
What is the Western Public Health Unit’s role in responding to COVID-19?
When a community member is confirmed to have COVID-19 or becomes a close contact, local services are best placed to support members of their community with culturally appropriate information, public health advice and support. Responsive local action is aimed at reducing the time between the identification of a confirmed case of COVID-19 or close contact, and their isolation or quarantine, which is crucial to preventing spread of the infection.
With a focus on the highest risk settings, Western Public Health Unit aims to:
- Interview positive cases of COVID-19 who live or work in the western Melbourne metropolitan region
- Conduct contact tracing of priority cases which originate within the western Melbourne metropolitan region
- Offer public health advice for people who have tested positive to COVID-19 and who are self-isolating
- Provide support for close contacts of people with COVID-19, including information on quarantine and how to stop the spread
- Provide advice and support for community members who have visited COVID-19 exposure sites
- Support the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program across the western metropolitan region
At times of peak demand, a range of tasks require the assistance of our colleagues in other Victorian public health units or in the Victorian Department of Health. This means that a proportion of the interviews, contact tracing, public health support and exposure site management that relates to our catchment, is then undertaken by colleagues from other units. We greatly appreciate their support.
We work closely with the Victorian Department of Health and other public health units around the state to provide a rapid response to COVID-19 case detection in the community. Under the leadership of the Chief Health Officer, the Department provides evidence-based policy direction to Victoria’s response to COVID-19 and public health matters, as well as broader support for complex cases and outbreaks in our community.
Please visit the Department of Health website for:
For information about the West Metro COVID-19 Vaccination Hubs managed by Western Health, visit Western Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination site
What areas of Melbourne do we serve?
WPHU serves the western and part of the north western metropolitan region of Melbourne, which includes parts of the Melbourne CBD, inner western suburbs, and extends west to include Werribee, Hoppers Crossing and north-west to include Melton and parts of the Hume municipality.
We serve a population of around 1.2 million people, across 10 local government areas and 53 postcodes. We are proud to be part of one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse regions in Australia.
The map provides an overview of the community that the WPHU serves. If you are not within the WPHU area, you can find links below to other public health units across Victoria.