Northern Australia’s vast, sparsely populated 10,000-kilometre coastline is the frontline for many high-risk animal and plant pests and diseases.
Biosecurity risks can reach Australia through the movement of people and goods by sea and air, through traditional visits between Papua New Guinea and Torres Strait, and by natural pathways such as wind, tide and animal migration. Some serious pests and diseases are being managed in Torres Strait that have not reached the Australian mainland.
Biosecurity Business Grants have been made available from 2020-21 to 2022-23 to existing or new Indigenous businesses, organisations or other organisations working with Indigenous people to support business opportunities relating to biosecurity activities for northern Australia.
Biosecurity activities are controls or actions that minimise the risk of exotic pests, weeds and diseases entering Australia to protect our $81 billion agriculture export industries, our unique environment, cultural and heritage values, our tourism industries and our way of life including biosecurity:
- surveillance / monitoring
- risk management and
- capability building.
Examples of potential grant proposals which may be funded under this program include, but are not limited to:
- developing a biosecurity triage system to assist Indigenous rangers, local governments and natural resource management groups to quickly ascertain the correct contact and jurisdictional responsibility for pest, disease and weed issues
- establishing a biosecurity treatment or de-contamination service providing insecticidal, fumigation or de-contamination / wash down services
- development of biosecurity risk mitigation/management plans to protect Indigenous values in a local area
- collaborative activities to manage biosecurity risks including mitigation activities and capability building initiatives on Land and Sea Country
- collaborative activities to highlight to community including farmers, tourists and businesses the impacts of biosecurity incursions on Land and Sea Country
- research that supports government and Indigenous ranger partnerships to better conduct biosecurity activities, for example, development of non-destructive sampling techniques.
The Biosecurity Business Grants program
The Biosecurity Business Grants program has run over 3 years from 2020-21 to 2022-23 and has been delivered through the Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Program.
The purpose of the grant program is to provide funding to support Indigenous business opportunities relating to biosecurity activities in northern Australia including Torres Strait in Queensland (QLD).
More information about the program can be found on the Community Grants Hub website. The Australian Government Community Grants Hub administers this program on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The objective of the program is to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in northern Australia to view biosecurity as a business opportunity through the development of innovative business ideas.
Intended program outcomes
The intended outcomes of the program are to:
- increase biosecurity capability including awareness, surveillance and response in northern Australia
- increase economic opportunities for Indigenous communities.
Applications for Round 1 closed on 13 April 2021.
17 applications were received from Indigenous businesses, ranger groups, local governments and not-for-profit organisations.
Examples of grant activities applied for include:
- improving biosecurity practices in Indigenous-led forestry in northern Australia (Tiwi Islands and East Arnhem, Northern Territory (NT))
- expanding the capacity of newly formed ranger groups to undertake biosecurity work on country (north Queensland and Cape York)
- improving remote Indigenous community animal health surveillance capacity through grass-roots collaboration (20 Indigenous communities across northern Australia)
- feasibility study for an Indigenous business to operate a biosecurity hub on Badu Island, QLD
- assessing vector-borne disease amongst animal populations in Aboriginal communities
- development of a targeted Waste and Material Biosecurity Management Plan (Torres Strait, QLD)
- development of biosecurity management plans (Arnhem Land, NT)
- delivering weed identification workshops to rangers (Gascoyne and mid-west Western Australia)
An assessment panel including representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency and Indigenous Business Australia met in June 2021 to assess applications. Five projects were approved for funding from August 2021 totalling over $2.4 million over two years (2021-22 and 2022-23).
Round 2 is anticipated to open in the second half of 2022.
|Project title||Summary||Lead recipient||Funding
|Improving remote Indigenous community animal health surveillance capacity through grass-roots collaboration||Improving remote Indigenous community animal health surveillance capacity through grass-roots collaboration will see AMRRIC partner with remote Indigenous community stakeholders in Northern Australia to collect and report community animal health and biosecurity data across a minimum of 20 communities annually over 3 years. Fee-for service arrangements with collaborating Indigenous organisations will aid in supporting the employment of an estimated 42 local community members. Contextually appropriate animal-focused biosecurity training, delivered by AMRRIC, will enable syndromic surveillance data capture via the custom designed AMRRIC App. With negotiated agreements in place, this data will be subsequently shared with biosecurity authorities. This project will enable considerable improvements to current animal biosecurity surveillance activities while concurrently building local biosecurity capacity, improving community animal health and supporting Indigenous economic opportunities.||Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous
Communities (AMRRIC) In consortium with:
Torres Strait Island Regional Council
Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council
Thamarrurr Development Corporation Limited Wildlife Health Australia
|Wuthathi Biosecurity Initiative||Wuthathi Aboriginal Corp RNTBC (WAC) will build the capability of their ranger cohort to carry out biosecurity activities on their land and sea country in the Shelburne Bay area of eastern Cape York including 10 freehold islands and Harmer River. The grant funding would be used for purchase of equipment to allow biosecurity services as directed by the DAWE to be delivered, as well as training to build the capacity and knowledge of rangers to be able to carry out their duties. Safety procedures and required certifications for equipment usage would be included. The area of land includes 80,669 ha of Wuthathi freehold land and 37,270 ha of national park land, giving a total of 117,939 ha. This ecologically sensitive land is approximately 100 kms south of the tip of Cape York.||Wuthathi Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC||$151,157|
|Safeguarding Indigenous-led forestry in northern Australia||Indigenous communities in northern Australia own and manage around 46 million ha of forest, including socioeconomically important forestry enterprises such the 30,000ha plantation hardwoods on the Tiwi Islands and the native forest sawmill and woodworks of Gumatj, East Arnhem, NT. Both community forestry businesses recently commenced RD&E projects that address forest production, but neither project has the specific biosecurity goals needed to protect their forests from pests and disease threats. This project will complement existing projects and strengthen the partnership between northern Australian biosecurity specialists to safeguard important Indigenous-led forestry businesses, and to identify mechanisms to improve biosecurity best practice as business-as-usual (BAU) for these enterprises. Developing and testing the training tools and techniques for improving biosecurity and surveillance is anticipated to have wider impact assisting Indigenous managers in northern Australia.||Plant Health Australia Limited (PHA)
Tiwi Plantations Corporation
NT Government Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade
University of the Sunshine Coast
|Badu Biosecurity Hub Stage one-planning and design||This project will allow for a feasibility study/preliminary business plan to support the establishment of am Indigenous owned and run decontamination facility on Badu Island. Crystal Ailan has existing infrastructure on Badu Island and it is believed that there is a business opportunity for Badu Island to become a Biosecurity Hub for the outer islands of the Torres Strait. The feasibility study will investigate what the needs/requirements of the region are, develop a capital budget, cost benefit analysis and engage with stakeholders to understand the operating environment. COE will investigate and cost all associated licences, training and personal protection equipment required for an indigenous owned and operated enterprise. COE has extensive experience in supporting remote indigenous businesses.||Community Owned Enterprises Ltd||$39,106|
|Waste and Material Biosecurity Management Project||The Waste and Material Biosecurity Management Project will see the development of a targeted Waste and Material Biosecurity Management Plan for the Torres Strait Island Regional Council that will underpin the guiding principles and objectives outlined in the Torres Strait Regional Biosecurity Plan 2018-2023 which was developed as part of a regional collaboration.||Torres Strait Island Regional Council||$312,475|
Applications for Round 2 closed on 14 November 2022.
24 applications were received from Indigenous businesses, ranger groups, local governments and not-for-profit organisations.
Examples of grant activities applied for include:
- assisting Indigenous people in the remote community of Gunbalanya, Northern Territory to establish a horticultural micro-business which will support long-term and sustainable employment for trainees into the future
- establishing an insect monitoring network amongst Aboriginal organisations harvesting and growing Kakadu plum and other bushfoods on country in NT and WA
- managing climate-change driven pathogen biosecurity threats in the north – working together to use traditional knowledge and build new skills in early warning surveillance and response (NT)
- c o-design and delivery of a community awareness and education program about biosecurity to the Kaurareg community of the inner Torres Strait
- trials of new pesticide-free weed management technologies
- investment in marine vessels to increase access to Sea Country to undertake biosecurity coastal surveillance activities
- feral pig eradication / control in the Peppimenarti Region, Northern Territory
An assessment panel including representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency and Indigenous Business Australia met in February 2023 to assess applications. Four projects were approved for funding from Ma y 2023 totalling almost $1.2 million over two years (2022-23 and 2023-24).
|Project title||Summary||Lead recipient||Funding
|Better health, better nutrition, and better biosecurity in northern Australia.
Growing fresh fruit, vegetables, and bush foods to support national biosecurity outcomes, local employment and economic development of remote Indigenous communities
|This project will:
If successful, this pilot approach could also be expanded and introduced to adjacent communities.
Local Aboriginal people will be trained to maintain a community garden of fresh fruit, vegetables and bush foods through learning horticultural techniques, bee husbandry and awareness of potential pests and diseases.
A shipping container will be retrofitted and delivered to the community with garden tools, fencing, irrigation, and a greenhouse to support production, provide a secure facility for storage of equipment/tools, and protect produce from insects, animals and theft.
|Deadly Hair Dude Pty Ltd||$445,500|
|Insect identification network for Aboriginal bushfood producers||This project will establish an insect monitoring network amongst Aboriginal organisations harvesting and growing Kakadu plum and other bushfoods on country in NT and WA. The capacity of Aboriginal harvester / growers will be built in insect identification, monitoring and management of pests to expand their knowledge to identify beneficial insects and minimise potential pests to bushfood crops. The grantee will:
||Northern Australia Aboriginal Kakadu Plum Alliance Cooperative Limited||$211,467|
|Managing climate-change driven pathogen biosecurity threats in the north – working together to use traditional knowledge and build new skills in early warning surveillance and response||The goal of this project is to manage climate change-driven pathogen biosecurity threats to human and animal health in the north, through a two-way collaborative approach that will use traditional knowledge and build new skills in early detection surveillance and response. This program is initiated by the Yagbani Aboriginal Corporation on South Goulburn Island but will include communities on the Tiwi Islands and Groote Eylandt. This project involves:
|Economic development opportunities in biosecurity community awareness and education||This project involves the co-design and delivery of a community awareness and education program about biosecurity to the Kaurareg community of the inner Torres Strait. Included in this project will be:
||Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation Pty Ltd in consortium with:
Kaiwalagal Development Indigenous Corporation Torres Strait Regional Authority Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Torres Strait Island Regional Council