Our department

​​​A new mission, vision and goals for DAFF

On 14 November 2011, the secretary launched DAFF's new Strategi​c Statement to underpin our collective direction, priorities and activities.

The statement sets out DAFF's mission, vision, goals and the culture to which we aspire. Our new mission summarises what we are here to do and for whom we do it:

We work to sustain the way of life and prosperity of all Australians.

We advise the government and our stakeholders how to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of our portfolio industries.

We help people and goods move in and out of Australia while managing the risks to the environment and animal, plant and human health.

We have a vision—for the Australian people; for our portfolio industries; and for ourselves as a department.

The work we do is defined in our goals in the areas of resources, productivity and markets. These goals remind us how the diverse work we do makes a difference in these three areas. They help drive decisions about our priorities and where we direct our efforts.

Our culture recommits us to promoting and upholding the Australian Public Service (APS) Values and Code of Conduct and describes the kind of workplace we want to be. To support the strategic statement, we also launched a new People Strategy. The people strategy describes how we can foster our culture and our capability to meet the government's priorities for the department in a changing workplace.

Planned outcomes

DAFF had two planned outcomes in 2011–12:

Outcome 1: More sustainable, productive, internationally competitive and profitable Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries through policies and initiatives that promote better resource management practices, innovation, self-reliance and improved access to international markets.

Outcome 2: Safeguard Australia's animal and plant health status to maintain overseas markets and protect the economy and environment from the impact of exotic pests and diseases, through risk assessment, inspection and certification, and the implementation of emergency response arrangements for Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries.

Role and functions

To achieve our planned outcomes, DAFF works throughout the entire supply chain, from producer to consumer. We:

  • work with the Australian Government to develop and deliver policies and programs that help our portfolio industries
  • provide biosecurity services offshore, at the border and onshore to protect the environment, people's health and our portfolio industries
  • work through our biosecurity services to maintain Australia's favourable pest and disease status
  • provide export certification services to support access to overseas markets for Australian agricultural commodities
  • protect and develop the natural resource base on which our portfolio industries rely
  • negotiate access to international markets for our animals, plants seafood and associated products
  • provide independent and integrated economic and scientific research, analysis and policy advice
  • represent the Australian Government at international meetings relating to the portfolio, to promote sustainable resource management, build agricultural productivity, protect Australia's biosecurity and support free trade.

Collaboration and partnerships

We work in partnership with other Australian Government agencies, particularly the departments of:

  • Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
  • Defence
  • Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Health and Ageing
  • Human Services
  • Resources, Energy and Tourism
  • Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

We also work in partnership with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Public Service Commission. We collaborate with state and territory agencies in developing national approaches through the work of ministerial councils. We collaborate with other countries through bilateral and multilateral engagement and our involvement in international and regional bodies.

Case study

Putting out the welcome mat

When Air Force One touched down in Canberra and Darwin in November 2011 and United States President Barack Obama was whisked away in a motorcade, the department's biosecurity staff had done a lot of work behind the scenes to facilitate his arrival.

Visiting Guests of Government and their entourages, like other passengers arriving in Australia, pose potential biosecurity risks. To accord them the special courtesies associated with their positions, our staff work closely with key government agencies, high commissions, embassies and consulates in the planning and clearance of aircraft, personnel and equipment.

DAFF staff will generally meet with the advance planning teams for a Guest of Government visit and undertake joint on-site assessments of the ports of arrival.

In 2011–12, we supported 28 Guest of Government arrivals, including The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, President Obama and leaders attending the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth.

A detector dog lying on the airport tarmac looking back at Air Force One.
A DAFF detector dog supervises the arrival of Air Force One in Canberra
Photo: DAFF

Legislation and regulation

Legislation administered by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is listed in the Commonwealth's Administrative Arrangements Order of 9 February 2012, available on the ComLaw website.

Portfolio legislation enacted during 2011–12 includes:

  • Horse Disease Response Levy Act 2011
  • Horse Disease Response Levy Collection Act 2011
  • Horse Disease Response Levy (Consequential Amendments) Act 2011
  • National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Amendment (Deer) Act 2011.

Portfolio bills introduced during the year and currently before parliament include the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011; the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2012 and the Wheat Export Marketing Amendment Bill 2012.

We developed more than 50 subordinate legislative instruments during 2011–12, including changes to the controls, levies, fees and charges for Commonwealth fisheries, meat and livestock export and other primary industries.

The department's Legislation and Regulatory Reform Committee (formerly named the Legislation and Deregulation Committee) continued to monitor the development of portfolio legislation and is overseeing the department's sunset legislation project. The project involves a review of all portfolio legislative instruments before their sunset date (the date the legislation expires), which is generally 10 years after they are made. As part of this project, DAFF facilitated the repeal of 102 redundant legislative instruments in 2011–12. The committee will oversee the review of the remaining legislative instruments prior to their sunset date, ensuring they are necessary, relevant, easy to understand and managed consistently.

Figure 11 Organisational structure at 30 June 2012

Organisational structure at 30 June 2012 

View larger image of Figure 11.

Our executive

Dr Conall O'Connell has been secretary of DAFF since May 2007. He has a PhD and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons I) from Queen's University, Belfast.

The secretary is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the department and acts as the Director of Animal and Plant Quarantine. His other roles include:

  • chair of the DAFF Executive Management Team (EMT)
  • chair of the Primary Industries Standing Committee
  • chair of the PISC National Biosecurity Committee
  • chair of National Management Groups for nationally coordinated emergency responses to pest and disease incursions
  • member of the Food Regulation Standing Committee
  • departmental Parents' and Carers' Network Champion.

Three deputy secretaries assist the secretary across a range of issues and departmental functions and oversee the work of particular divisions.

Mr Phillip Glyde joined the department in November 2006. He has an honours degree in natural resource management from the University of New England and a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University.

Phillip has oversight responsibility for the work of the Trade and Market Access and Agricultural Productivity divisions and ABARES. His other roles include:

  • member of the EMT
  • chair of the EMT People Management Committee
  • member of the EMT Change Management Committee
  • member of the EMT Investment Committee
  • chair of the PISC Animal Welfare Committee
  • Commissioner of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
  • departmental Disability Champion.

Ms Rona Mellor joined the department in February 2010. She has a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland.

Rona has oversight responsibility for the work of the biosecurity divisions and the Information Services and People and Service Delivery divisions. Her other roles include:

  • member of the EMT
  • chair of the EMT Change Management Committee
  • chair of the EMT Information and Communications Technology Committee
  • member of the EMT Investment Committee
  • deputy chair of the DAFF Audit Committee
  • chair of the DAFF Biosecurity Reform Steering Committee
  • co-chair of the DAFF–Customs Strategic Working Group
  • deputy chair of the PISC National Biosecurity Committee
  • member of the Strategic Border Management Group
  • departmental Attendance Champion.

Mr Mark Tucker joined the department in February 2012. He has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) majoring in Marine Zoology.

Mark is DAFF's chief operating officer and also has oversight responsibility for the work of the Climate Change, Sustainable Resource Management, Government, and Finance and Business Support divisions. His other roles include:

  • member of the EMT
  • chair of the EMT Investment Committee
  • chair of the EMT Legislation and Regulatory Reform Committee
  • member of the EMT Change Management Committee
  • member of the DAFF Audit Committee
  • chair of the National Employee Consultative Committee
  • chair of the PISC High-Level Group on Drought
  • chair of the PISC National Agvet System Policy Taskforce
  • departmental Indigenous Champion
  • departmental Information Champion.

Divisional roles and responsibilities

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) is the department's research arm. It provides professionally independent research, analysis, commodity forecasting and data across the fields of economics, science and social science. A statement on ABARES' role and professional independence was published on our website in 2012. ABARES shares its outputs and findings with government agencies, industry, research bodies and other relevant groups for the benefit of the Australian community.

Agricultural Productivity Division

The Agricultural Productivity Division aims to make Australia's agricultural and food industries more globally competitive and profitable. The division has several branches, each with responsibility for a specific industry sector, such as crops, wine, horticulture, wool, meat, dairy and the food value chain. The division works collaboratively with industry, portfolio agencies, governments and the community on activities to enhance industry development and reduce market impediments.

Biosecurity Animal Division

The Biosecurity Animal Division works to maintain and enhance trade and market access for animals and animal products. The division provides certification for the import and export of live animals and animal genetic material to international standards. It works collaboratively with Australian industries, governments and the community to strengthen Australia's animal disease prevention, preparedness and response capabilities, as well as providing leadership and strategic direction on domestic and international animal welfare issues.

Biosecurity Food Division

The Biosecurity Food Division is responsible for developing strategies to gain, improve or maintain overseas market access for a range of food and animal products. The division encompasses market access and maintenance services and is responsible for the coordination of Australian policy and technical input into international food standards. In consultation with Australian governments, industries and the community, the division also monitors Australia's food standards code and oversees the national management of export food programs.

Biosecurity Plant Division

The Biosecurity Plant Division works to maintain and enhance trade and market access for plants and plant products. The division provides certification for the import and export of plants and plant products to international standards. It works collaboratively with Australian industries, governments and the community to strengthen Australia's plant pest and disease prevention, preparedness and response capabilities, as well as providing leadership and strategic direction.

Biosecurity Policy Division

Biosecurity Policy Division develops long-term, strategic policy initiatives for Australia's biosecurity. It works collaboratively with Australian industries, governments and the community to ensure the development and implementation of a risk-based approach to managing biosecurity risk offshore, at the border and onshore. The division works with Australian industries, governments and the community to prepare for, and support the management of, post border incursions.

Climate Change Division

The Climate Change Division develops policies and implements programs to improve the capacity of Australia's primary industries and producers to adapt and respond to climate change while improving productivity. It is particularly concerned with issues of drought and farm adjustment, sustainable management and use of Australia's forests and emissions mitigation and adaptation to climate change across our portfolio industries. The division works closely with other policy areas across the department to ensure DAFF maintains a well-developed understanding of challenges in different regions.

Finance and Business Support Division

The Finance and Business Support Division provides leadership and advisory services in financial management, business support and shared corporate services for the department. It also administers all cost recovery processing. The division contributes to the department's planned outcomes by providing high quality, timely and cost-effective services and technical advice to the divisions, staff and stakeholders.

Government Division

The Government Division works collaboratively across the portfolio and with stakeholders to foster a coordinated approach to portfolio priorities and to support the department's work. It delivers policy analysis, coordination and advice and support services to the minister and parliamentary secretary, their offices, the executive and divisions. The division's work includes secretariat functions, parliamentary support, communications, business assurance and risk management and other strategic coordination functions.

Information Services Division

The Information Services Division is responsible for all information and communication technology (ICT) functions and activities within the department. It provides ICT applications support and development capability for all divisions and develops and maintains ICT strategic planning, enterprise architecture and information management.

Case study

The Tiger Teams of Talisman Sabre 2011

Exercise Talisman Sabre is Australia's most important combined military activity with the United States (US) military, occurring biannually in Australia. Most activity occurs in and around the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Coral, Timor and Arafura seas, with around 28 000 military personnel participating.

The biosecurity requirements placed on Australian, US and other foreign military forces' equipment coming into Australia are consistent with those applied to commercial machinery imports. Machinery needs to be thoroughly cleaned so that it is free of soil, plant material and live insects. This high risk biosecurity material has the potential to introduce exotic pests and diseases into Australia.

DAFF, through collaboration with the US military and the Australian Defence Force, undertook significant work to identify possible improvements to assist the US military in meeting Australia's biosecurity requirements. One improvement was the implementation of US Marine Corps 'Tiger Teams'.

The US military established dedicated 'Tiger Teams' to prepare and clean equipment for Talisman Sabre 2011. These teams were trained on site at the US military base in Okinawa, Japan, by Australian DAFF officers experienced in the preparation and cleaning of equipment.

The implementation of the 'Tiger Teams' was acknowledged as a success by both the US military and DAFF, substantially reducing preparation time and costs compared to the 2009 exercise. The innovative 'Tiger Teams' project was listed as a finalist in the Institute of Public Administration Australia Queensland public sector awards category for Best Practice in Federal Government. The Institute recognised this as an 'outstanding example of excellence in public administration and management'.

DAFF continues to work closely with the US military to ensure equipment, cargo and personnel coming into Australia are managed effectively, ensuring Australia's biosecurity is maintained.

A man standing under a military vehicle cleaning it with a water-pressure cleaner.
Pfc. Lawrence J. Simpson, a combat engineer with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, was one of the DAFF-trained 'Tiger Team' cleaners for Talisman Sabre 2011
(Photo: Lance Cpl Garry J. Welch, courtesy of the United States Marine Corps).

Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer

The Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer (OCVO) is affiliated with the Biosecurity Animal Division. The OCVO facilitates the development of national policies and strategies and the provision of scientific advice to minimise the potential impacts of diseases on Australia's animal population. It is also responsible for supporting and enhancing trade and market access for animals and animal products. The OCVO liaises with public health, environmental and veterinary experts and agencies to advocate cooperation between animal, human and environmental health fields.

People and Service Delivery Division

The People and Service Delivery Division strengthens the focus on investing in our people and reforming our business. It brings together people capability and management, biosecurity reform, regional management and program and project management functions. The division oversees the delivery of services through the department's regional network.

Quarantine Operations Division

The Quarantine Operations Division manages the national biosecurity service delivery for the clearance of cargo, shipping, mail, vessels and passengers—including setting policy and standards—and administers quarantine third-party arrangements, both in Australia and internationally. The division works with the Australian, state and territory governments, industry and the community to manage Australia's national biosecurity system to minimise the threat of introduction of exotic pests and disease.

Sustainable Resource Management Division

The Sustainable Resource Management Division works to strengthen the capacity of Australian primary producers and other land managers to use and manage natural resources sustainably and improve the national approach to weeds management. It provides policy advice and manages programs aimed at promoting sustainable agricultural, fishery and aquaculture sectors. The division also administers the Caring for our Country initiative, including Landcare.

Trade and Market Access Division

The Trade and Market Access Division pursues international market access for portfolio industries through bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement. The division is responsible for ensuring that Australia's obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and under free trade agreements are met. It facilitates regular formal bilateral meetings and supports engagement with the WTO, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The division maintains the overseas network of DAFF posted officers and supports high level representations on market access issues.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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