Vetcommunique Volume 9 Issue 4

​​​​Animal Health Committee 15th Meeting Outcomes
May 2009

Welcome to the Animal Health Committee (AHC) newsletter. The aim of Vetcommuniqué is to provide a communication link between AHC and livestock industry bodies.​

AHC membership comprises the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) of the Commonwealth, states, and territories, and representatives from Biosecurity Australia and CSIRO. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), Animal Health Australia (AHA) and the New Zealand CVO attend AHC as participants. AHC also meets with industry representatives on specific items from time to time.

Dr Rob Rahaley is the South Australian Chief Veterinary Officer and AHC Chair for 2009.

AHC next meets face-to-face on 12-14 October 2009 in Hobart. AHC last met face-to-face on 11-14 May 2009.

National Animal Health Laboratory Strategy (NAHLS)

AHC noted progress in the development of NAHLS which aims to deliver a national animal health laboratory service capability for the effective control of animal diseases of major importance to Australia.

The NAHLS Reference Group is responsible for the implementation of the strategy, and they last met on 9 April 2009.

Projects underway within the NAHLS include the:

  • development of a post-graduate training program for veterinary diagnostic pathologists
  • convening of a Senior Laboratory Managers Group to monitor and progress the efficient delivery of laboratory services
  • Laboratory Emergency Animal Disease Diagnosis and Response (LEADDR) initiative to improve diagnostic capabilities for emergency animal disease responses
  • Australian Animal Pathology Standards Program to promote high levels of expertise in veterinary pathologists. 

National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP)

Animal Health Australia on behalf of the National Animal Health Surveillance Strategy Reference Group commissioned the ‘Review of Arbovirus Surveillance Needs and the NAMP’ in 2008. The ‘Review’ was presented to AHC15 together with a response to the ‘Review’ from the NAMP Technical Panel.
AHC considered the ‘Review’ and NAMP Technical Panel response, and subsequently agreed to establish an internal Working Group to critically evaluate the work already done, and consider methods of enhancing the program’s design, expected performance and outcomes. The Working Group is to be chaired by the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer.

Integration of Aquatic Animal Health responsibilities into AHC

Responsibility for the national aquatic animal health agenda will fall to AHC from 1 July 2009.  To facilitate this change, AHC recognised the value of the current National Aquatic Animal Health Technical Working Group (NAAHTWG) and endorsed a proposal for this group to become a formal subcommittee of AHC.  The group will be renames the Sub-Committee on Aquatic Animal Health (SCAAH) and this group will provide technical advice on aquatic health to AHC.

SCAAH will be chaired by an AHC member and have a core membership of government members as nominated by jurisdictions (including New Zealand), CSIRO and AAHL. Other participants from government and non government agencies including aquatic animal health specialists from academia and the private sector may be invited by the Chair to participate as co-opted members or observers. The inaugural Chair of SCAAH will be the Qld Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Ron Glanville.

The AHC Sub-Committee on Animal Health Laboratory Standards (SCAHLS) will assume responsibility for providing laboratory advice on aquatic animal health issues.

In addition to SCAAH, a National Aquatic Animal Health Industry Reference Group (NAAH-IRG) has been formed and this group will liaise directly with AHC to provide industry input on aquatic issues. AHC noted the IRG terms of reference are to:

  • identify aquatic animal health and biosecurity issues affecting the national aquatic animal sectors
  • provide policy advice to AHC as appropriate
  • provide the key pathway for communication between industry sectors and government at the national level
  • undertake advocacy for members on aquatic issues.

The Chair of SCAAH (Qld CVO) will also be a member of NAAH-IRG.

National Livestock Identification System

AHC considered the Report from the AHC Working Group on National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) (Sheep and Goats) which focused on traceability risks associated with implementation of a stock movement database and mandatory transaction tags. The Working Group identified risks in the current system and noted that both mob-based transaction recording and individual animal transaction tags would address some, but not all, of these risks. Recommendations in the Report were endorsed and are under consideration by the Primary Industries Standing Committee.

National Animal Health Surveillance Strategy (NAHSS)

In 2007, the Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC) endorsed the NAHSS. The NAHSS covers the surveillance requirements to demonstrate Australia’s animal health status, while prioritising areas where there may be impacts on human health (e.g. zoonotic diseases), food safety, animal welfare, and the environment, productivity and market access. PISC concurrently recommended the formation of the NAHSS Expert Surveillance Group by Animal Health Australia to identify cost-effective modifications, additions, or changes in emphasis that would enable Australia’s surveillance system to better meet future national surveillance needs and objectives.

At its meeting, AHC considered a report from the NAHSS Expert Surveillance Group and a report from a recent forum on Surveillance Strategic Development. Building on these reports, AHC has agreed to a workshop in Canberra on 26 June explore how the recommendations for the recent Beale Review into Australia’s Quarantine and Biosecurity Arrangements can be incorporated into developing a national approach to surveillance.

Industry Session at AHC15

The AHC15 industry session was attended by members from the Cattle Council/AHA Livestock Industry Forum, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Veterinary Association, and the Pestivirus Technical Advisory Group.

Progress on CSIRO’s development of a Foot and Mouth Disease Spatial Simulation Model was also presented to AHC. 

Peter Buckman retiring as WA CVO and WA representative on AHC.

The West Australian CVO,  Dr Peter Buckman has retired after 40 years in the WA Department of Agriculture and Food.  Peter has been an invaluable member of AHC, characterized particularly for his attention to detail and his ‘end of the week’ Friday email.  His steady hand and well-considered opinions will be missed and we wish Peter all the best in his retirement.

Dr Tony Higgs has assumed the role of acting WA Chief Veterinary Officer until the position is formally filled. AHC welcomes Tony, and looks forward to working with him.

Key Contacts

  • Dr Rob Rahaley (AHC Chair), South Australian CVO, Ph: 08 8207 7970
  • Dr Adrian Coghill (AHC Secretary), switchboard: 02 6272 3933
  • Dr Andy Carroll, Australian CVO, switchboard: 02 6272 3933
  • Dr Hugh Millar, Victorian CVO, Ph: 03 9217 4247
  • Dr Bruce Christie, New South Wales CVO, Ph: 02 6391 3717
  • Dr Brian Radunz, Northern Territory CVO, Ph: 08 8999 2130
  • Dr Ron Glanville, Queensland CVO, Ph: 07 3239 3525
  • Dr Rod Andrewartha, Tasmanian CVO, Ph: 03 6233 6836
  • Dr Tony Higgs, Western Australian CVO (Acting), 08 9368 3342
  • Dr Will Andrew, Australian Capital Territory CVO, 02 6207 2357
  • Dr Robyn Martin, Biosecurity Australia, switchboard: 02 6272 3933
  • Dr Narelle Clegg, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Ph: 02 6272 4523
  • Dr Martyn Jeggo, Australian Animal Health Laboratories, Ph: 03 5227 5511
  • Dr Eva-Maria Bernoth, Animal Health Australia, Ph: 02 6203 3944
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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