Celebrating 30 years of co-operative biosecurity in northern Australia

In 2019 the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and its partners marked 30 years of continuous operations under the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS). The NAQS initiative commenced in July 1989, initially as a 3-year trial focussed on early detection of incursions of exotic pests, weeds and diseases and helping to manage the biosecurity risks associated with natural and unregulated pathways into remote northern Australia.

The NAQS has evolved over the 3 decades since its inception into an integrated program of scientific animal and plant health surveys, biosecurity regulation functions and innovative community engagement measures with the primary objectives of:

  • early detection of target species that can threaten our agricultural sectors
  • facilitating trade in Australian agricultural products through accurate data on the presence, absence or distribution of target species
  • regulating traditional and other movements through Torres Strait risk pathways
  • providing a framework for collaborative efforts between stakeholders engaged in biosecurity (including aquatic and environmental biosecurity measures) and related initiatives across northern Australia.
  • contributing to biosecurity capacity development in northern Australia with a particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ranger groups.

The activities above are as important today as when NAQS commenced due to the proximity of northern Australia to our nearest neighbours, changing pest status’ of countries to our north, and the various seasonal, climatic and natural movements which can aid the arrival of exotic pests into northern Australia and dispersal southwards.

Safeguarding our home and way of life – 30 years of co-operative biosecurity in northern Australia provides a timely reminder of the critical importance of working together to protect our communities, agricultural sectors and environment for the benefit of all. It recognises the important biosecurity work conducted across the north and celebrates the contributions of diverse partners to NAQS outputs and Australia’s national biosecurity effort.

The commemorative brochure describes key operations underpinning the NAQS including animal, plant and aquatic health surveillance and the science behind it, fruit fly monitoring and responses, biosecurity regulation in Torres Strait and supporting community engagement activity. Other matters showcased in the document include:

  • the history and evolution of the NAQS
  • recent investments through Government White Papers on Agricultural Competitiveness and Developing Northern Australia enabling innovation and improvements in a range of NAQS surveillance, data collection and community engagement approaches 
  • work delivered through the network of department offices in Broome, Darwin, Cairns, Torres Strait and the Northern Peninsula Area of Cape York
  • the numerous contributors to northern biosecurity including our counterparts from government agencies in WA, Qld and the NT, various industry bodies, researchers and remote communities and landholders who have facilitated biosecurity surveillance operations on their properties repeatedly over the years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and communities who have played crucial roles in service delivery
  • the special relationships the department enjoys with Indigenous rangers
  • NAQS contributions to domestic and offshore surveillance and capacity building, particularly in PNG, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Publication details

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, 2020

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Safeguarding our home and way of life: 30 years of co-operative biosecurity in northern Australia PDF 44 8.1 MB
Safeguarding our home and way of life: 30 years of co-operative biosecurity in northern Australia DOCX 43 1.8 MB

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Last reviewed: 7 October 2020
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