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With quarantine continuing to be a critical part of the Australian response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Victorian and Australian Governments have committed to building a purpose-built quarantine accommodation hub outside Melbourne’s CBD, to combat and protect the community from the highly infectious COVID-19 virus.
This commitment followed the development of a business case by the Victorian Government, which was submitted to the Australian Government for approval. A project summary of this business case can be found here:
The business case identified a preferred site at Donnybrook Road, Mickleham – at the site of the existing animal quarantine facility, owned by the Australian Department of Agriculture. On 24 June 2021, the Australian Government confirmed that this will be the site of the new facility.
COVID-19 quarantine is an important feature of our public health response to COVID-19, and this new purpose-built hub will be designed and built with the primary purpose of ensuring the safety of our community.
The design of the new hub is fully informed by experts in public health and infection control and is based on the existing standalone facility currently operating at Howard Springs. With its cabin-style outdoor accommodation, Howard Springs has been widely acknowledged as the safest and most functional design for quarantine in Australia.
The master plan for the new hub includes dedicated onsite services, including catering that is tailored to be delivered alongside strong infection control and prevention measures. The first stage of the hub will provide 500 beds, with a second stage doubling capacity a short time later. It is also designed with the ability to increase to up to 3000 beds as part of a scalable build if a larger facility is determined to be required at any point.
The new hub will also be designed with relocatable cabins so that it can be utilised for alternative and future needs, including ongoing quarantine arrangements, crisis accommodation and other emergencies.
Frequently asked questions
This project is currently in the planning stage with construction anticipated to begin in September 2021. We anticipate that the first stage of the hub (which will provide 500 beds) will be operational in early 2022.
Building a purpose-built accommodation hub will ensure that the highest, medical-grade infection prevention control practices can be built into the quarantine accommodation program, and help ensure the safety of our community in the future.
Ten sites were considered for the location of the new Victorian quarantine accommodation hub. A range of factors were considered, including proximity to a major airport and hospital, links to arterial roads, and access to required infrastructure such as sewerage, water and electricity.
Donnybrook Road, Mickleham and Avalon Airport were shortlisted as two potential locations for the quarantine hub, with the Mickleham site as the preferred option due to the site conditions and existing infrastructure.
Both of the preferred sites are located on Commonwealth land and therefore the final decision was made by the Australian Government.
Infection prevention and control to ensure the safety of all Victorians is at the centre of the design for the new hub. The design is fully informed by experts in public health and infection control and is based on the quarantine facility currently operating at Howard Springs, which is widely acknowledged as the safest and most functional design for quarantine in Australia.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria will run the facility, while it is used for the purpose of COVID-19. In line with the strict procedures already in place in central CBD as part of the COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria accommodation program, the hub will have the following strict measures in place for safety, security and infection prevention and control:
- All staff will be vaccinated, before they work at the quarantine facility
- All staff will undertake daily health screening, COVID-19 tests and temperature checks
- Staff will also be encouraged to get tested on their days off
- Contact between staff and residents will be minimal. When required, all staff will follow strict procedures and be fitted and trained in full PPE, including N-95 masks
- Staff will be solely deployed to the mandatory quarantine program – they will not work anywhere else
- Staff will be provided with everything they need on site including all meals, and will not leave the facility during their shift
- Access to the hub will be strictly controlled and enforced by Victoria Police and highly trained staff.
In addition to these measures, the hub’s design will support infection prevention and control and include:
- ventilation systems for accommodation facilities similar to healthcare settings to ensure that rooms are provided with a constant flow of filtered fresh air
- cabin-style accommodation with entry/exit points from dedicated decks, so the virus won’t spread through shared internal corridors
- multiple separate self-contained blocks of approximately 60 cabins to accommodate up to 250 residents in each block, with dedicated entry and exit points.
- Staff will work on the same block each shift, limiting opportunities for transmission across multiple areas of the site.
- onsite central services, including catering, laundry and administration, to support operations and limit the movement of goods and materials off site.
The Victorian Government allocated $15 million for the initial planning and design of a dedicated quarantine facility, and it will operate and manage the centre during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the site is located on Commonwealth land, the Australian Government will fund and manage the construction of the hub and will own the centre.
The hub will be operated by COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria while it is used as part of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government will decide how the facility will be used.
The quarantine hub will be called the Centre for National Resilience in Melbourne.
Once there is no longer a need for a dedicated quarantine accommodation hub for the COVID-19 response, the facilities will be able to be used for other purposes. While a decision has not been made about future use, there are possibilities for the hub to be used for responses to future public health emergencies, or as crisis accommodation for bushfire-affected communities or other vulnerable Victorians.
No. Staff working at quarantine facilities are not permitted to leave the site during their rostered shift.
Staff are supported with everything they need throughout their shift, and have no reason to shop locally for work.
Interactions with returned travellers are extremely limited and all staff are vaccinated, undergo daily testing on site, follow strict infection prevention and control measures and wear appropriate PPE, including wearing fit-tested N95 masks in red zones. Staff also undertake additional voluntary testing on their days off.
Like all Victorians, staff must also comply with all public health directions made by the Chief Health Officer when out in the community.
The operational model of the new facility is still being developed.
In the current hotel-based program, residents who are symptomatic on arrival are taken straight to a health hotel, which is a dedicated hotel for COVID-19 positive or symptomatic residents.
If a non-symptomatic return traveller subsequently returns a positive result they are transferred to the health hotel under strict infection prevention and control measures.
All frontline staff, including those working in hotels, at the airport or transporting residents are vaccinated and tested daily. They are required to follow health directions, including to immediately isolate and get tested if they are symptomatic.
Reviewed 29 July 2021