National Hand Hygiene Initiative


Effective hand hygiene is a fundamental infection prevention and control strategy. Performing hand hygiene as part of patient care can prevent the spread of disease and contamination of the healthcare environment.


The Commission established the National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI) in 2008 as part of a suite of initiatives to prevent and reduce healthcare-associated infections in Australian healthcare settings. The National Safety and Quality Health Services (NSQHS) Standards require health service organisations to have a hand hygiene program consistent with the NHHI and jurisdictional requirements.

The NHHI uses a multimodal approach to improving hand hygiene. Implementation of the NHHI is led by states, territories and health service organisations (public and private), and includes:

  • The use alcohol-based hand rub at the point-of-care
  • Ensuring uniform hand hygiene and infection prevention and control education
  • Monitoring hand hygiene compliance and performance feedback
  • Using hand hygiene programs that ensure culture change

Hand hygiene and healthcare professionals in Australia

Effective hand hygiene is essential for infection prevention and control and patient and healthcare worker safety. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care works to support healthcare organisations, healthcare workers and student healthcare workers in implementing the NHHI. 

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC) have issued a joint statement on the importance of  hand hygiene by medical practitioners for patient safety. The joint statement promotes engagement with medical practitioners, and highlights the importance of hand hygiene for both medical practitioners and student doctors.

Implementation of the National Hand Hygiene Initiative

The Commission has developed a range of resources to support healthcare workers and health organisations in implementing the NHHI into practice: