Australia’s National Action Plan for Production Animal Health
Animalplan 2022 to 2027 (Animalplan) is Australia’s first national action plan for Production animal health. The plan consolidates themes from over 30 existing strategies, action plans and frameworks—including both the Commonwealth Biosecurity 2030 roadmap and recently-released National Biosecurity Strategy. The priority animal health activities in the plan were developed and agreed through extensive stakeholder engagement with governments, industry organisations and animal health experts.
Animalplan 2022 to 2027 was endorsed by Senator the Hon Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in September 2022, and by State and Territory Agriculture Ministers.
Current and proposed Animalplan projects
These current and proposed projects are aligned with the 7 objectives of Animalplan 2022 to 2027.
- Carcass Disposal - Destroy and Let Lie: The establishment of this collaborative research project will build on previous research to examine if natural carcass decomposition processes effectively inactivate pathogens such as African swine fever (ASF), under Australian conditions. The findings will inform strategic decision-making within emergency animal disease outbreaks affecting feral animals and have the potential to enable significant savings in carcass management time and costs associated with response activities. Project contact: Robyn.Grob@daf.qld.gov.au
- Feral pig modelling: Feral pig spatial modelling will be used to better understand feral pig distributions and their ecology, and will enable cost-effective strategies for feral pig management. The data generated by this project will inform strategic decision-making within biosecurity incident responses affecting feral and domestic pig populations. Project contact: Robyn.Grob@daf.qld.gov.au
- Virtual Reality to support Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) training (Phase 2): This project focusses on how virtual reality (VR) technology can be used for training in early-stage detection and investigations of suspected FMD cases. For information about Phase 1 of the project, please see: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/health/virtual-r…. Phase 2 is an upgraded version using the Meta Quest 2 system which is being tested within the department and with a small group of stakeholders. A report will be written from the results of this testing, to guide animal biosecurity training organisations who are interested in using VR to supplement their training content. This website will be updated as Phase 2 progresses. Project contact: Corrie.email@example.com
Strategies to enhance animal disease surveillance:
- Consultancy for policies, strategies and operating guidelines for point of care (POC) testing policy, strategy and operating guidelines for animal infectious disease: This CSIRO-led project will support the development of a nationally-consistent management approach towards the use of POC tests specific for national notifiable and reportable diseases in terrestrial and aquatic animals in Australia. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
Laboratory capability and preparedness General
- National laboratory simulation exercise planning: The Subcommittee on Animal Health Laboratory Standards (SCAHLS) is finalising a business plan to guide the roadmap for a national laboratory-focused simulation exercise. This exercise will assist in the identification of training needs and means by which to improve the surge capacity of Australian animal health laboratory networks in response to major emergency animal disease (EAD) outbreaks. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- Sample Tracking and Reporting System (STARS) enhancement: This project will redevelop the CSIRO STARS network for enhanced biosecurity and laboratory management system interoperability at both national and jurisdictional levels. The expansion of software capability and improved performance to facilitate integration of a wider group of users to the network will improve Australia’s ability to respond to emergency animal disease outbreaks. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- Northern Australia’s biosecurity sequencing (NABSeq) high throughput sequencing (HTS) network and facility to enhance northern Australian biosecurity: This important project aims to improve northern Australia’s ability to identify and respond to biosecurity challenges; and provide effective biosecurity risk management through modernisation of disease detection resources and surveillance in the region. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- Australian Biosecurity Genomic Database for notifiable terrestrial animal viruses (Phase 2): This project will develop a genomic database of notifiable production animal disease viruses in Australia. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
Enhancing diagnostic capability for lumpy skin disease:
- Developing an immunohistochemistry test for lumpy skin disease: This ACDP project will develop and characterise an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test for the diagnosis and investigation of lumpy skin disease virus. Initial testing of infected tissues has achieved successful IHC staining. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- Evaluation of antibody-detecting immunoassays for lumpy skin disease in cattle and buffalo: This project will evaluate the suitability of 3 antibody detection Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for lumpy skin disease surveillance, and proof-of-freedom testing, in cattle and buffalo in Australia. The ELISA kits will be made available for use by Australian laboratories via the Laboratories Emergency Animal Disease Diagnosis and Response (LEADDR) network. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- Lumpy skin disease testing capacity building in the LEADDR network: This project strengthens the capability of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) to participate in international proficiency testing for LSD, and proficiency testing and national quality control monitoring for the disease via the LEADDR network. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- Developing lumpy skin disease and African horse sickness whole genome sequencing workflows: This project will develop robust whole genome sequencing procedures for both lumpy skin disease and African horse sickness viruses to mitigate the consequences of their outbreaks in Australia. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
Enhancing diagnostic capability for other diseases:
- Establishing networked serological testing capability for African swine fever: This project will establish an improved serological testing capability for African swine fever in Australia by harmonising quality assurance processes and antibody-detection ELISA capability via the LEADDR. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- MicroRNA biomarkers for improved detection of animal diseases in a Johne’s disease model: This project evaluates the use of host microRNA for detection of Johne’s disease in cattle and will provide a proof of concept for the potential extension of this approach to other exotic and emergency animal diseases. Project contact: Animalhealthlaboratories@agriculture.gov.au
- Project information pending.
- Mitigating on-farm antimicrobial resistance risks for livestock industries: This project aims to improve the understanding in Australia of the transmission pathways and biosecurity priorities for mitigating AMR risks between livestock and humans. This project will provide livestock producers with tools to assess the risk of AMR transmission into, out of, or within their enterprises. It will allow them to make informed changes to reduce the risk of spread of AMR and improve biosecurity. Project contact: Coombe Consulting.
- Antimicrobial resistance survey in the pig industry: A follow-up survey in the Australian pig industry is commencing and will provide data to compare to previous surveys for monitoring and quality assurance purposes. Project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Project information pending.
- Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework (AASF): The purpose of the AASF is to communicate the sustainability status and goals of the Australian agricultural sector to markets and to the community. It will provide the whole-of-Australian agriculture narrative about sustainability to assist in market access and it will provide a translation layer to assist supply chain companies, finance and investors to better understand and report on Australian agricultural sustainability. Project contact: Australian Agricultural Sustainability Framework - National Farmers' Federation (nff.org.au).
- Project information pending.
Do you have a project idea that will contribute to the Animalplan national objectives? To be considered by the Animalplan Steering Committee they must be submitted through the key stakeholder group that best aligns with your project idea:
- Agriculture Innovation Australia
- Animal Health Australia
- Animal Health Committee
- Animal Industries Antimicrobial Stewardship RD&E Steering Committee
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- Industry Forum Emergency Animal Diseases Working Group
- National Farmers’ Federation
- Veterinary Schools of Australia and New Zealand
Please note that Animalplan 2022 to 2027 is not a funding body.
Steering Committee meeting summaries
The Animalplan Steering Committee (SC) held its 3rd meeting via videoconference on 4 June 2021. The SC approved its business plan without further amendment.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) reported to the SC that it will be seeking endorsement of Animalplan from Animal Health Committee and the National Biosecurity Committee, to be followed by the Agricultural Senior Officials Committee and the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum. While those endorsements are in progress, graphic designers in DAWE will be working on a final version that will include images submitted by members of the SC.
The SC discussed their approach to the Animalplan’s 21 activities and noted the activities with potential links to new biosecurity-related projects in DAWE.
Members were allocated tasks to help determine how to progress development of projects for Animalplan activities. These tasks include further defining the details of the problems to be solved for each activity, as well as determining the scope of existing or planned work for each activity.
The SC noted that the Chair would be presenting an update on the progress of Animalplan on behalf of the committee at the Australian Biosecurity Symposium at the Gold Coast on 26-28 October 2021.
The Animalplan steering committee held its 4th meeting via videoconference on 22 July 2021.
The steering committee noted that the Animalplan document is being considered by Animal Health Committee (AHC). The next step will be submission to the National Biosecurity Committee. The development of an accessible version and design version is in progress.
The steering committee noted that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is developing the program of work for the additional biosecurity funding it will be receiving from government. The work covers development of new tests, new technologies, strengthening data collection and sharing systems for surveillance work, intelligence gathering, and strengthening preparedness and response to incursions within Australia and with our neighbours.
The steering committee worked through the next steps to be taken to progress 10 of the Animalplan activities. The Chair is planning to speak about Animalplan at Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum when it meets in September 2021.
The Animalplan steering committee (SC) held its 5th meeting via videoconference on 14 October 2021. The Chair welcomed participants and acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land and paid her respects to the elders past, present and emerging.
The Chair gave an overview of progress made by industry and government on identifying and setting priorities for Animalplan activities. The committee agreed it is important that Animalplan activities have a national focus.
The Chair reported that her recent meetings with Animal Health Committee and with Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum had been very constructive.
Instead of going line by line through a prioritisation of activities in this meeting it was instead decided that the secretariat would continue to obtain information about each project for committee members.
The committee asked that the department determine what resources would be required to have project reporting templates done by the next SC meeting or to coincide with the launch of Animalplan.
The Chair thanked members who had commented on the Animalplan design draft and noted that those comments would be considered by the department’s design team in its future work on the design draft. Subject to endorsement from NBC, AGSOC and agriculture ministers, it is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.
The Chair reported that she had recently presented to the AHA Industry Forum and that her presentation about Animalplan had been sent by email to all committee members.
The committee noted that the position of Deputy Chair has now been filled.
The Animalplan steering committee (the committee) held its 6th meeting via videoconference on 3 December 2021. The Chair welcomed participants and acknowledged the traditional owners of the lands on which the meeting was being held, and any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who may be attending the meeting.
The secretariat presented approximately 10 completed project updates. The committee noted good progress with this work. In future, the committee will request project updates 2 to 3 weeks prior to each meeting. A flow diagram or similar is expected to be developed based on the committee’s draft processes and procedures document.
The committee’s preference is that future meeting summaries emphasise the proactive work of the committee, including actions and achievements. Consideration will be given to including links to other organisations’ websites, where possible.
The committee was advised of potentially relevant project proposals involving the wool industry. The committee discussed whether the scope of these could be broadened, so that they align more comprehensively with Animalplan. This may be possible if the projects are approached as pilots for further work with potential to attract further funding. The committee noted that while single-species projects are within the scope of Animalplan, options to broaden their scope should be the priority to align with Animalplan objectives.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) informed the committee that Agricultural Innovation Australia had recently advised of a potential connection between the organisation’s interests in innovation and the department’s work on biosecurity. This was noted.
The committee also noted that a number of initiatives are underway involving sustainability, including the National Farmers’ Federation’s Australian Agricultural Sustainability Framework, and growAG. These efforts were currently meeting the needs of the related Animalplan objective with the potential for future efforts to expand to further meet this priority.
The Chair reported that the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp, had included a reference to Animalplan in his keynote address at the recent Australian Veterinary Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference. The Chair informed the committee that she has applied to speak at the 2nd National Biosecurity Symposium at the Gold Coast on 3-5 May 2022. The committee discussed the potential advantages of developing a communications strategy to engage with key stakeholders.
It is anticipated that some stakeholders who have strategic plans that connect and align with Animalplan will be invited to briefly present at future committee meetings.
The secretariat reported that the Animalplan document is expected to be endorsed in the coming days by the National Biosecurity Committee (NBC). It will go to Agriculture Senior Officials for consideration and endorsement in the New Year. Once Animalplan is endorsed, expanded promotions can commence, along with efforts to prioritise projects for investment.
The committee noted that reporting to NBC about progress of work would be an appropriate approach to reporting, and that this would need to be incorporated into the work plan.
The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions to Animalplan during the year.
The Animalplan steering committee (the committee) held its 7th meeting by videoconference on 25 February 2022. The Chair noted that the committee had been in operation for a year and recognised its achievements and acknowledged the secretariat’s work. Since the committee’s meeting in November 2021, the secretariat reported that it had been informed of Animalplan’s out-of-session endorsement by the National Biosecurity Committee. Out-of-session endorsement from the Agriculture Senior Officials’ Committee was sought in February 2022.
The Chair proposed that for the future, project ideas from state/territory governments be contributed through Animal Health Committee, and industry/other proposals come via the relevant peak industry organisation. The committee adopted the Chair’s proposal as a model for collecting new project ideas.
The committee noted the Chair had received submissions proposing priorities from Animal Health Committee and Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum Emergency Animal Diseases Working Group (IFEAWG). The committee also noted that at least 4 of the IFEADWG priorities align with AHC and Animalplan priorities. Animal Health Australia (AHA) agreed to convene a workshop of relevant stakeholders (late April/early May) to identify 2 or 3 clearly scoped project ideas, with identified project leads, timelines, funding sources and budgets.
The committee noted and discussed the written project updates circulated by the secretariat. Members appreciated the visibility of projects underway, and this was useful for informing discussions and recommendations. These projects will be made available on the Animalplan website.
The Chair updated the committee on the outcomes of recent meetings with representatives of Agricultural Innovation Australia, Veterinary Schools of Australia and New Zealand, AHA and the Animal Industries' Antimicrobial Stewardship R,D&E Strategy. These meeting increased respective understanding of each group’s roles and priorities.
The secretariat reported on the development of the National Biosecurity Strategy and the Chair’s meeting with the relevant Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment team developing the strategy. The strategy is expected to include an acknowledgment of Animalplan.
The Chair drew attention to the updated committee processes and procedures, and invited comments from members. The Chair then thanked committee members and the secretariat for their contributions, and closed the meeting.
The Animalplan Steering Committee (the Committee) held its 8th meeting by videoconference on 27 May 2022. The Chair welcomed participants and acknowledged the traditional owners of the lands on which the meeting was being held, and any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who may be attending the meeting.
The Secretariat reported (through the Chair) that the then Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (now Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) intends to discuss ministerial endorsement and implementation of Animalplan 2022–2027 with the incoming Commonwealth Government agriculture minister.
The Chair informed the Committee of 2 half-day workshops which were held on 23 May 2022 involving members of the Committee, Animal Health Committee (AHC), and Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum, to progress project proposals to improve emergency animal disease (EAD) responses. Workshop 1 considered crisis management plans and Workshop 2 discussed enhanced decision making in EAD operations. The Chair reported that the workshops had been very constructive with 14 industry groups coming together. However, neither workshop reached a final plan for a project, and the Chair asked Committee members to reflect on the discussion and consider how the workshops can inform future deliberations. The Chair also reported that recent emergency animal disease events and risks resulted in a greater reliance on in-kind contributions, but this would not be sustainable. The Chair summarised the discussion by emphasising the high level of reliance on goodwill, the need for succession planning and for greater advocacy for Animalplan’s objectives in immediate circumstances and the longer term. The Deputy Chair observed that the aim should be to develop a strategy to overcome the immediate problems and that influencing decision makers at the political level will also be important.
The Chair reported a good response from key stakeholders to the requests for updates. The Committee reviewed the project updates and noted the instances where the Committee could provide advice or contribute in other ways. The Committee agreed that stakeholders should be able to contact the project leaders directly, via the Animalplan website and that the contact details of project leaders should be displayed against each project, where they have consented.
The Committee noted that the Animalplan website (www.awe.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/health/animal-plan) had been updated and the number of page views had increased. After discussing other communication options, the Committee agreed that consideration should be given to a workshop or symposium later in 2022 to update the stakeholder group that contributed to the development of Animalplan.
The Chair thanked Committee members and the secretariat for their contributions and closed the meeting.
The Animalplan Steering Committee (the Committee) held its 9th meeting by videoconference on 26 August 2022. The Chair welcomed participants and acknowledged the traditional owners of the lands on which the meeting was being held, and any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who may be attending the meeting.
The Secretariat reported that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is seeking ministerial endorsement from Minister Watt’s office and State and Territory Agriculture ministers. If State and Territory Ministers’ endorsement is sought out of session this is a 3-to-4-week process.
The Chair invited suggestions for suitable avenues for the announcement and launch of Animalplan. The suggestions received included the National Biosecurity Forum in November 2022 and Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) 20-year celebration of the EADRA – as part of AHA’s meeting week in September 2022. Members also indicated a preference that key stakeholder groups be informed in advance of the launch, and that they be provided with media points for distribution within their organisations to use in communications with their stakeholders.
The Chair noted the preference to convene an online forum or symposium, of 2-3 hours duration after Animalplan 2022 to 2027 has been launched. The Committee agreed that a virtual format would make the event more widely accessible and maximise participation by key stakeholder organisations. This will provide an opportunity for the leaders of projects that align with Animalplan to participate as presenters. The Committee agreed that the forum should be convened before the end of year (2022).
The Chair provided a summary the rigorous industry-government stakeholder consultation process that was used in developing the 2 proposals which were submitted by the Industry Forum Emergency Animal Diseases Working Group for the Committee’s consideration. Members discussed the proposal on crisis management planning and discussed options for funding including from the Commonwealth and industry. The Committee indicated its support for the project proposals and discussed potential avenues of funding.
The Chair indicated that there are very few direct sources of cash funding, with much of the industry contributions being in-kind. Also, it was not to be expected that the Commonwealth be the sole funding contributor for all projects that align with Animalplan. A key objective for Animalplan is to bring people and resources together from the different networks to progress priorities, and these priorities should be about making progress in using a cooperative approach. The Committee noted that there will likely be an indication before the next meeting as to how the 2 projects could be funded. The aim of Animalplan will be to achieve clarify around who and what is being done in the terrestrial agricultural animal health sector space whilst minimising potential duplication of activities.
The Chair thanked Committee members and the secretariat for their contributions and closed the meeting.