Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) surveillance system: coordinating national data on antimicrobial use and resistance for Australia

John D. Turnidge A B and Kathy T. Meleady A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, GPO Box 5480, Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia. Email:

B Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Health Review -
Submitted: 19 October 2016  Accepted: 27 March 2017   Published online: 22 June 2017


Objective The aim of the present study was to describe the process of establishment and coordination of the national Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) surveillance system.

Methods Existing surveillance programs conducted by health organisations at state or multi-jurisdictional levels were reviewed, and gaps and opportunities identified for the development of a national system. In view of the time frame available as part of the Australian Government Department of Health funding agreement, the strategy used by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care was to commence work with existing surveillance programs, expanding and enhancing them and developing new systems where gaps were identified. Using the specifications of the AURA national system, the data from each of these elements were then analysed and reported. The system provides coverage for the acute and community sectors for antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance.

Results The AURA surveillance system integrates eight streams of surveillance activities, including passive and targeted surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance from hospitals (public and private) and the community (general practitioners and aged care homes). A gap was identified in timely surveillance of critical antimicrobial resistances (CARs), which resulted in the development of the national CARAlert system. The first comprehensive analyses of data across the surveillance programs was published in June 2016, providing baseline data for future reports to build on.

Conclusion The AURA surveillance system has established the framework and foundation systems for an integrated and comprehensive picture of both antimicrobial use and resistance in Australia over time. National coordination and support will improve data collection, standardisation and analysis, and will facilitate collaboration across the states and territories, the Australian Government and the private sector. AURA publications will inform policy development and clinical decision making and improve consumer awareness of antimicrobial use and resistance. The system will continue to develop as a comprehensive system, with additional data over time, and appropriate clinical and epidemiological review.

What is known about this topic? Surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance is critical to inform effective policy development and public health responses to the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance. Until now, surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance in Australia has been fragmented, with state and territory and professional group differences in data collection, analysis and reporting.

What does this paper add? This paper profiles the development of the AURA surveillance system, the first nationally coordinated surveillance system for antimicrobial use and resistance, and its use of a partnership approach with contributing programs in order to promote participation and to obtain data to inform strategies to prevent and contain antimicrobial resistance. This paper highlights the establishment phase, noting that the system continues to be improved with growing participation from all sectors.

What are the implications for practitioners? National surveillance data from the AURA surveillance system provides evidence for action to guide improvements in infection control, antimicrobial prescribing and the prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance across all healthcare sectors. It will also enable trends to be identified and reported on, and have the capability of determining the effect of interventions to improve and rationalise antimicrobial prescribing.


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