Public health

We provide services designed to maintain and improve the public and environmental health, safety and wellbeing of the community.

The Health Services Unit can provide you with information, support or advice on topics including:

Food safety and food poisoning (at home and in the community)

If you think you may have had food poisoning from a shop, cafe or restaurant in the City of Port Phillip, complete the Food Poisoning History Form (PDF 545 KB).

This form includes a record of the food and drinks you had in the 72 hours prior to the start of your symptoms. This will help us to find out what caused your illness.

Visit Health Victoria for information on safe food handling and preventing food poisoning at home.


See immunisation for detailed information about:

  • immunisation program
  • school entry immunisation certificates
  • recommended immunisation schedule (baby - adult).

Syringes, needlestick injuries and education

See syringes for detailed information about:

  • syringe disposal program
  • what to do if you find discarded syringes
  • needlestick injuries
  • awareness program.


Water reuse has become an important subject due to drought and finite water resources. Reusing household wastewater is now an important facet of water conservation.

Household wastewater can be divided into two separate waste streams:

  • Blackwater is household wastewater that is contaminated by faeces and urine arising from toilets and urinals.
  • Greywater is non-toilet wastewater such as wastewater from showers, baths, spas, washing machines, laundry troughs, dishwashers and kitchen sinks.

Household wastewater reuse options fall into two categories:

  • diversion of untreated greywater for immediate reuse
  • installation of systems to collect and treat household wastewater and reuse the resulting effluent. Systems that collect, treat and reuse household wastewater from individual households must be approved by the EPA. A permit to install such a system is required from Council. Application to Install Greywater System.

Visit the Environment Protection Authority for more information regarding greywater systems.

Tobacco Reforms

Smoke free dining

Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed restaurants or cafes, the indoor dining areas of pubs and clubs, licensed premises and gaming venues. Smoking is also banned in outdoor dining areas. This includes:

  • outdoor areas at hospitality businesses where food is eaten or available to be eaten
  • all outdoor areas at food fairs where the principal activity is supplying food to eat at the event
  • all outdoor areas with 10 metres of food stalls and vans at organised outdoor events (other than food fairs), including community or street festivals such as St Kilda Festival.

Changes to the Tobacco Act 1987 in 2017 regulated e-cigarettes and shisha tobacco in the same way as other tobacco products.

Outdoor dining and drinking areas

An outdoor dining area is an area provided by a business for food to be consumed. For example:

  • footpath dining
  • courtyards
  • balconies
  • beer gardens
  • food courts near takeaway outlets.

Note that the ban on smoking laws in dining areas doesn't include food and drinks such as:

  • snacks including packaged chips, nuts, chocolate bars
  • uncut or unpeeled fruit
  • alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Separating outdoor drinking areas from outdoor dining area

If your venue has an outdoor drinking area and an outdoor dining area, you must ensure the two areas are adequately separated.

This applies if your outdoor drinking area adjoins a neighbouring venue's outdoor dining area. If the separation requirement is not met, smoking is banned in the outdoor drinking area.

To minimise diners’ exposure to smoke drift, an outdoor drinking area (where smoking is permitted under certain conditions) must be separated from an outdoor dining area by a 4-metre buffer zone.


You must display acceptable No smoking signs to indicate smoke-free areas at your venue. The signs must be visible on entry to and in outdoor dining areas. Signs can be ordered free of charge from the tobacco reforms website.

Tobacco Retailers

It is illegal to sell cigarettes to minors (under 18). Council continues to educate business operators about their legal obligations under the Tobacco Act 1987.

If you become aware of a retailer breaking the law, please contact ASSIST on (03) 9209 6777 to lodge a formal complaint. Council's Health Services Unit will inform the Victorian Government Department of Health Tobacco Policy Unit to investigate the matter and keep you informed.

For information about your obligations as a retailer, please visit tobacco reforms website.

Education visits to all premises affected by the tobacco legislation are being conducted with proprietors to ensure they are familiar with the legislation and are complying.

If you have any enquiries about the smoking laws, please contact ASSIST on (03) 9209 6777 or visit the tobacco reforms website which provides information for the general public, local government and businesses.

Public Health Nuisances

Rats and Mice

These words are common names for rodents that look alike to the casual eye. Rat is used to describe medium-sized rodents with long thin tails. Mouse is used to describe tiny, sparrow-sized rodents with long thin tails.

Both rats and mice may be vectors or carriers of disease and can cause damage to property and cause a fire hazard. It is particularly important to keep rats and mice away from food or food contact surfaces. To assist in preventing rats and mice:

  • Build them out. Seal all entry points such as doors, pipes, vents or holes that allow access.
  • Ensure food is protected by using containers with tightly fitting lids.
  • Remove all food waste that may encourage rats and mice.
  • Ensure rubbish is not overflowing and is removed regularly.
  • Use rat/mice treatments as per directions.
  • Engage a pest contractor.


The most common cockroaches in Australia are the German and American cockroaches. American cockroaches are large and black. German cockroaches are smaller and brown.

Cockroaches like rats and mice can be vectors of disease and it is important to keep them away from food contact surfaces. To help prevent cockroaches:

  • Ensure all food waste is removed and areas are kept clean and free from food waste and rubbish.
  • Seal gaps and crevices to prevent entry.
  • Inspect warm, dark and damp areas in the home or kitchen.
  • Use treatments/pesticides that may be purchased from the supermarket and follow directions.
  • Engage a pest control operator.

Pigeons - please do not feed pigeons

Pigeons thrive in urban areas as there is usually a good food source available, sheltered areas to roost and an absence of predators. As a result they have become pests in built-up areas.

Feed is one of the main reasons why flocks congregate around urban areas and people feed pigeons believing that their activities are harmless to humans. However there are many problems associated with large flocks of pigeons. They include:

  • Fouling of buildings, eroding stonework and causing costly damage.
  • Creating hazardous slippery walkways and pavements.
  • Hygiene concerns. Pigeons carry various diseases such as Salmonellosis.
  • Attracting rodents to uneaten food fed to pigeons.

Large flocks of pigeons in urban and inner-city areas compete with and deter Australian native birds from the areas. There are also other reasons not to feed pigeons:

  • Human food lacks the necessary nutrients the birds require for good health.
  • Feeding attracts pigeons into an area that is potentially hazardous to them, resulting in damage to wings and feet.
  • Feeding results in all year-round breeding which causes overcrowding in roosting sites, allowing disease to spread quickly within the flock. The birds therefore live in an unhealthy and stressful condition, exposed to parasites and disease which can be passed on to other wild birds.
  • Pigeons are wild birds, capable of searching out their own natural food supply. Regular feeding by humans destroys their ability to fend for themselves and makes them dependent on humans.

European Wasps

To report a European wasp nest on public property please contact the Health Services Unit on (03) 9209 6292 or after hours on (03) 9209 6777. Should have a wasp nest on private property you should contact a pest operator. Please refer to the Yellow Pages for a pest control operator.


To report a bee's nest on public property please contact the Health Services Unit on (03) 9209 6292 or after hours on 9209 6777. Pest control operators and beekeepers can provide nest removal and eradication on private property. Please refer to the Yellow Pages for a pest control company or beekeeper.

Bees will rarely sting you unless you provoke their hive or if you accidentally squish or step on one. It can be annoying when a bee is flying around you, but it is likely just sensing your cologne or perfume. Bees are also attracted to brightly coloured clothing.

What time of day are bees most active?

Bees are known for their efficiency and they keep a schedule. You can expect them to become active from 6 am to 8 am and often stay out until 5.30 pm. Most flowers will start producing nectar in these timeframes as well.

How do you avoid getting stung by a bee?

  1. Wear light-coloured, smooth-finished clothing.
  2. Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoos, and deodorants.
  3. Wear clean clothing and bathe daily.
  4. Wear clothing to cover as much of the body as possible.
  5. Avoid flowering plants when possible.
  6. Keep work areas clean.

Head Lice

Head lice are small, wingless insects that live, breed and feed on the human scalp. They do not carry or transmit disease. They have been around for thousands of years and given the chance will move from head to head without discrimination.

For more specific information on the causes and treatment of head lice, please refer to the Victorian Government Department of Health website.

If you think you or a member of your family may have head lice, it is recommended that you see your local doctor for appropriate treatment and only send your child back to school when you have treated them.


Asbestos is a group of fibrous silicate minerals that occur naturally in the environment. Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials between the 1940s and 1980s because of its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties.

Generally, the existence of asbestos in a home does not pose a health risk unless asbestos is:

  • broken
  • in a damaged or deteriorated condition
  • disturbed, producing dust that contains asbestos fibres.

Asbestos can cause health problems when fibres become airborne and are inhaled. This is usually associated with inhalation over an extended time frame. Because the level of exposure that may cause health concerns is unknown, exposure to asbestos fibres or dust must be kept as low as possible. Activities such as breaking, drilling, grinding or cutting may release asbestos fibres into the air.

Whilst a householder may legally remove asbestos from their property, it is highly recommended that a licensed professional remove loosely bound asbestos. Please visit the Victorian Governments Asbestos website for more information on identification and removal.

Public Swimming Pools and Spas

The Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 2001 govern the microbiological and chemical requirements for all public pools and spas. Council's Health Services Unit tests these parameters in its routine pool and spa program. For further information please visit the Victorian Government's Health website on swimming pools.

EPA Beach Report

The EPA in conjunction with relevant municipalities runs its Beach Report service between December and March. For information on water quality at all Port Phillip beaches, please visit the Beach Report page on Yarra and Bay. Please note that the EPA advises against swimming near stormwater drains, rivers, streams and other outlets into Port Phillip Bay during and 24-48 hours after heavy rain.

Other Links and More Information

More information can also be found on the following websites: