Increased biosecurity risks and rapid changes in northern Australia requires a collaborative and integrated biosecurity system. Identifying shifts in the biosecurity landscape, the Northern Australia Biosecurity Strategy 2030 (the Strategy) sets out key biosecurity objectives and priority actions for this unique region.
The Strategy is expected to build on work done to date, leverage resources and address gaps to deliver better biosecurity outcomes across northern Australia. This collaborative and integrated approach will build on the Memorandum of Understanding which has been signed by governments. The Strategy will provide a framework for expanding collaboration and investment on biosecurity beyond the northern jurisdictions to include industry, First Nations and community groups.
The Strategy aims to improve the consistency of the biosecurity system across northern Australia by setting a framework that supports Commonwealth, state and territory jurisdictional, community and industry collaboration on biosecurity by:
- Strengthening collaborative partnerships between all participants and building capacity and capability through enhanced coordination of biosecurity actions across northern Australia.
- Implementing proactive and forward-looking approaches to surveillance and prevention activities in northern Australia.
- Leveraging and investing in Australia’s system-wide capability for the benefit of northern Australian biosecurity.
Read the strategy
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The Northern Australia People Capacity and Response Network (NAPCaRN)
The establishment of the NAPCaRN will bolster Indigenous and industry capability through the addition of technical officers, interns and liaison officers based in the north. Nine positions will be established across northern Australia with 3 positions each in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, enhancing surveillance, engagement and diagnostic capabilities.
Northern Australia Biosecurity Surveillance Network [NABSnet] is an established pathway for connecting vets who service northern Australia. The program is made up of over 50 vets and was designed to ensure there is effective veterinary response and investigation of significant disease events in northern Australia. The Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory governments have worked with the Commonwealth to plan and deliver the program. NABSnet benefits producers by building the capacity for disease investigations in the north, including access to subsidised laboratory testing. Better investigation outcomes with robust advice minimise further losses.
NABSnet also provides professional development opportunities for northern Veterinarians via an annual masterclass and distributes relevant information via a website and periodic newsletters.
Vet student subsidies
NABS funds a vet student subsidy program for placements completed in northern Australia. Livestock industries are the predominant agricultural land users in northern Australia and ready access to veterinary practitioners is essential to the long-term sustainability of these industries. The program will assist students with travel and accommodation costs to undertake livestock orientated placements in the north during the final years of study and will hopefully encourage students to seek employment opportunities in northern Australia and help address the shortage of veterinarians.
Animal disease animations
“Report sick and dead animals” and “Avian Influenza” animation videos have been developed to increase biosecurity awareness across the north and encourage early detection and reporting of sick or dead animals and animal disease outbreaks.
In-language resources for growers from non-English speaking backgrounds
The Northern Territory has experienced a succession of plant incursions in its peri-urban regions, highlighting it as a significant ‘hot spot’ requiring increased biosecurity surveillance and community engagement. NABS is supporting the NT Farmers Association to develop a range of in-language biosecurity resources including videos, articles, blogs, booklets and a web page to enhance grower understanding of key biosecurity messages in northern Australia for growers from non-English speaking backgrounds. The project is collaborative and cross jurisdictional and includes engagement with growers in peri-urban Darwin, areas in the NT; Far North and North Queensland, and the Carnarvon region in Western Australia.
Strengthening contemporary molecular capability for northern Australia
Early detection and management of pathogens are essential for effective biosecurity responses. Innovative screening and monitoring programs are necessary for the timely and accurate detection of newly emerging biosecurity threats.
The NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade [NT DITT] is developing a program with funding from NABS to develop contemporary molecular diagnostic capacity and capability in the NT (and by extension northern Australia). The project aims to improve the capacity of the DNA-based reference library of multiple gene regions and the application of contemporary molecular techniques for detecting pests and exotics species to strengthen biosecurity screening and preparedness.