Hotel Quarantine Security Program & Whole of Government Contracts

From emergencies to the everyday: NSW Public Works uses vetted suppliers to provide agile responses across NSW

On Monday 30 March 2020, NSW Public Works received a call from NSW Treasury, asking them to set up security services for the NSW Hotel Quarantine Program.

It was less than two weeks after the first COVID cases emerged from the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

“We immediately sprang into action, identifying which of our 47 pre-approved providers had the ability to do the job,” said Ms Helen Carroll, Director, Facilities Management at NSW Public Works.

“In the space of three days, we briefed the suitable security providers, confirmed their pricing, and evaluated and selected the winning proposals.”

On the Thursday morning, 400 security guards from eight providers started working at the first eight quarantine hotels.

It was the beginning of the NSW Hotel Quarantine Program that became the largest continuous security operation in Australian history and won a NSW Premier’s Award in November 2021.

Hotel Quarantine Security Meriton Suites

Hotel Quarantine Security Guards departing Meriton Mascot. Photo by ISEC.

The program was collaboratively developed and managed by several government agencies and other organisations, including NSW Health, NSW Police and NSW Treasury, as one interagency team.

At the busiest time of the program, in December 2020, there was a trained workforce of over 2,600 security guards, with almost 900 guards working on one day at 22 quarantine hotels across Sydney.

“NSW Public Works provided centralised training for the guards based on NSW Health expert advice and audited the performance of guards to ensure a consistent and safe service,” said Carroll.

“By working closely with other stakeholders and constantly learning and improving the program, we succeeded in holding back the spread of COVID into the community.”

On-call, vetted providers

NSW Public Works was able to quickly establish the security program for the quarantine hotels because it already had a panel of pre-approved security providers.

This was as part of the Whole of Government Facilities Management contracts it manages to deliver cleaning, maintenance, and security services across NSW.

“The contracts provide cleaning to 4,400 government buildings, maintenance services to around 3,500 sites, and security to more than 3,000 places,” said Carroll.

“These include NSW schools, TAFE colleges, courthouses, government offices and essential services buildings such as ambulance, police and fire stations.”

In 2020-21, the combined value of the three contracts was $604 million, involving over 15,000 workers across 49 providers that have been rigorously assessed, making them among the largest contracts in the southern hemisphere.

While the contracts are managed by NSW Public Works, they can be used by any NSW government organisation, said Carroll.

“Any government agency or local council can pick up the phone to NSW Public Works and quickly access a panel of pre-approved, experienced providers under agreed conditions, standards and maximum rates.”

“If a local council is going out to tender for a service provider, they can simply tap into a contract that is servicing all of NSW. The economy of scale is a huge benefit,” she said.

Chinderah Caravan Park Clean Up

Chinderah Caravan park clean up team in action. Photo by NSW Public Works.

From bushfires and floods to everyday situations

The facilities management service contracts enable NSW Public Works to be agile, flexible and respond innovatively to issues that arise.

“When the bushfires raged around Northern and Southern NSW in the 2019-2020 summer, NSW Public Works used its maintenance contract to quickly set up emergency response and evacuation centres to provide temporary shelter to displaced people.”

Following the recent flooding in Northern Rivers, NSW Public Works used the cleaning panel to source three providers to help with clean-up efforts in the Tweed Region.

Each provider was made responsible for cleaning two caravan parks in Chinderah, totalling six parks altogether.

“The cleaning was arranged within a week of the call from Resilience NSW, helping people get back into their homes quickly and freeing up local accommodation to be used by other out-of-town volunteers supporting the recovery efforts.

“The affected residents report being impressed by the government response and feel well looked after. Some people said the clean-up support has really raised spirits and shown caravan park residents they have not been forgotten and they are valued community members.”

Besides emergencies and natural disasters, the contracts are used in many “normal, everyday” situations, said Carroll.

“When a new building is completed, government agencies often harness the maintenance or cleaning contract to service the building into the future.

“No matter the situation, NSW Public Works has done the hard work around procurement, so government agencies get best-value outcomes and can get on with their own jobs,” she said.

Environmental Cleaning Panel Providers Chinderah

Environmental Cleaning Panel cleaners following a positive Covid-19 event at a school. Photo by Olinga.

To learn more about the government facilities management contracts, contact Helen Carroll, Director, Facilities Management, on 0402 969 141 or