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Tasmania - Legislation

The Public Health Act 1917 (1917 - 1935)

Amending Act

The Public Health Act 1917 also known by its full title 'An Act to further amend "The Public Health Act, 1903", and for other purposes' (Act no. 7 Geo. V no.64) made significant changes to The Public Health Act 1903 (Act no. 3 Edw.VII No.37). In particular this amendment included an entire section titled 'Venereal Diseases And Disorders Affecting The Generative Organs'. This legislation was repealed in 1935 by The Public Health Act 1935 (Act no. 26 Geo V. No.43).


Venereal Diseases was a term used to describe sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections. The Public Health Act 1917 sets out new rules for the compulsorily treatment of people with venereal diseases, as well as the compulsory reporting of venereal disease to the Chief Health Officer by medical practitioners. This reporting was to be conducted in a way to respect the patients privacy, their names and addresses were not to be provided. If people with or suspected of having a venereal disease refused to comply with treatment then their names and details would be made available to the Chief Health Officer.

This section also rendered it an offence to pass on a venereal disease, outlined the responsibilities of parents and guardians of children under 16 years with venereal diseases and the management of people imprisoned industrial schools who had contracted or were suspected of having venereal diseases. Under this amendment Public Hospitals had a legislated responsibility to treat patients with venereal disease free of charge.

This legislation was repealed in 1935 by The Public Health Act 1935 (Act no. 26 Geo V. No.43).

Sources used to compile this entry: Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Tasmanian Legislation', 20 January 2014, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.

Prepared by: Elizabeth Daniels