Exercise Eleusis (2005)


A national exercise called Exercise Eleusis '05 was held on 29 November - 1 December 2005.​

The exercise simulated an outbreak of avian influenza and evaluated the industry and government's national capability to manage a zoonotic disease outbreak.

The objectives of the exercise were to test:

  • the effective integration of national emergency zoonosis arrangements between industry, agricultural agencies and health agencies at state and territory, and Australian Government levels
  • public communication
  • disease control policies and strategies.

About 1,000 people participated throughout Australia from industry, government agriculture and health and emergency management, food safety agencies as well as many other others.

The exercise re-asserted:

  • collaboration between lead agencies is essential to a successful response
  • multi-level coordination across disciplines and jurisdictions, regarding procedures, policies and plans is essential for effective disease control, both before and during a response
  • the importance of national strategies for animal and human health including surveillance and animal welfare
  • good local management will prevent issues developing into national problems
  • industry engagement in the decision making processes and in implementing response plans is critical
  • public communication demands will be significant and consistent public messages between jurisdictions and agencies will maintain public confidence during an emergency.

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More information

​​More about Exercise Eleusis

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Exercise Eleusis '05 was held to ensure our agricultural and health emergency pest and disease response systems are reliable and we remain well prepared for any such outbreaks in Australia.

Australia has one of the world’s best emergency pest and disease response systems and because the country remains free of the world’s most destructive pests and diseases this provides a major trading advantage.

In addition, Australians are becoming increasingly aware of avian influenza's potential to damage agricultural industries and impact on human health. The disease remains a real threat to Australia having spread rapidly through many countries to our near north and claiming to date the lives of more than 359 people.

Planning for Exercise Eleusis ’05 began in May 2004 and was one in a series of exercises governments conduct from time to time to better prepare Australia to respond to the possibility of a real event.

What was the benefit of Exercise Eleusis?

Exercise Eleusis aimed at improving the Australian and state government's, as well as industry’s preparedness for a real emergency disease outbreak.

The exercise aimed to strengthen the working relationships between government and industry and played an important role in training people who would be involved in responding to a real disease outbreak.

In 2002, Exercise Mi​notaur was held to simulate an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. It was the first exercise of its kind in Australia involving whole of government and industry. Minotaur led to significant improvements to Australia's preparedness for a major animal disease or pest emergency, in areas such as disease control, legislation, trade and communications.

Who participated in Exercise Eleusis?

Exercise Eleusis participants included:

Australian Government:

  • The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Department of Health and Ageing
  • The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
  • Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Food Safety, Australia & New Zealand
  • Emergency Management Australia
  • Australian Animal Health Laboratory

State and Territory Governments:

  • State & Territory Departments of Primary Industries
  • State & Territory Departments of Health
  • First Ministers'
  • Emergency Management agencies
  • Environment Protection Authority

Industry Organisations:

  • Australian Chicken Meat Federation
  • Australian Egg Corporation
  • Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia
  • Game Bird Australia
  • Australian Poultry Industries Association

Other Participants:

  • Animal Health Australia
  • Poultry Cooperative Research Centre
  • Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre

Activities leading up to Exercise Eleusis

The pre-cursor activities listed below were held to prepare individual teams for their participation in the main Exercise.

ActivityFocusMonth (2005)
Asclepius IAgriculture & health integrationFebruary
HermesPublic communicationsMay
Adventurous GooseRapid Response TeamMay
HydraResource managementJune
Industry & JurisdictionsPre-cursor workshopsAugust
Asclepius IIAgriculture & health integrationAugust
JigsawNational Disease Coordination CentreSeptember
OlympusNational Management Group & Consultative Committee for Emergency Animal DiseasesOctober

What was Eleusis?

Eleusis is a city west of Athens where according to mythology the Goddess of agriculture saved a young boy's life and gave him powers to teach others the rewards of farming. Ancient Greek Rituals conducted at Eleusis were considered to awaken feelings of piety and cheerful hope of a better life in the future. (Source Bulfinch's Mythology)


The logo used for Exercise Eleusis is based on a Greek coin depicting the Goddess of Agriculture in a chariot being pulled by two basilisks - the king of snakes.