The School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine came into being on April 1, 2008. Under direction from the new Dean, the School was created to give the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences a public health presence in the fast growing public health arena. Professor John McNeil has served as Head of the School since its formation in 2008, previously serving the position of Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.
The predecessor of Monash's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine was the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, which was inaugurated at Monash University under its foundation Professor and Head, Dr Basil Hetzel, in June 1968. The original Department boasts an extraordinary array of outstanding alumni including the late Professors Tony McMichael and Chris Silagy, and Professor Richard Southby (now Executive Dean Emeritus, George Washington University Medical Centre, USA). From 1968, the original Department grew to become the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, and since April 1, 2008, the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. It is now one of the largest schools of public health in the Asia Pacific Region.
The School is primarily co-located at the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP) in Melbourne, with staff at other locations throughout Melbourne and elsewhere, as well. The School collaborates extensively with medical research institutes, government departments, NGOs and hospital departments throughout Australia and globally. It has particularly strong collaborations with many institutes and other Schools of Public Health around the Asia Pacific Region and it currently hosts for the Directorate for the Asia Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health. The AMREP precinct is home to one of Australia's largest and best supported applied research environments that also includes several of Australia's largest and most prestigious research institutes, including the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and the Burnet Institute.
The School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at The Alfred Centre celebrated the naming of their two Meeting rooms in honour of Dr Basil Hetzel AC, Foundation Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine and the late Prof Louis Opit, second Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine, on August 11, 2011.