Conducting a biosecurity risk analysis

​​​​​Risk analyses conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment are consistent with Australia’s International Biosecurity obligations to establish a balance between:

Risk analyses may be conducted in response to new information about biosecurity risks or to an import proposal.

The analysis may be completed as a:

  • Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis, under the Biosecurity Act 2015
  • Non-regulated risk analysis, reviewing existing biosecurity measures.

Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis

A Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis (BIRA) is a risk analysis with key steps that are conducted by the department under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

These only occur in cases where relevant risk management measures:

  • have not been established, or​
  • exist for a similar good and pest or disease combination, but the likelihood and/or consequences of entry, establishment or spread of pests or diseases could differ significantly from those previously assessed.

A risk analysis which does not meet these criteria will be undertaken as a non-regulated analysis of existing policy.

Past import risk analyses

Regulated risk analyses conducted before 16 June 2016 were completed under the Quarantine Act 1908 and were called an Import Risk Analysis.

This legislation has been superseded by the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Conducting a Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis

The department is responsible for conducting BIRAs and other risk analyses. Industry and expert participants may be involved in the risk analysis process.

This includes:

  • the Scientific Advisory Group
  • external experts
  • commonwealth and state or territory government agencies
  • industry stakeholders.

The department must also comply with international trade and biosecurity obligations and apply Australia's Appropriate Level of Protection in a consistent manner.

The steps of the Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis process are established in the:

Non-regulated risk analysis

A risk analysis which does not meet the criteria for a BIRA is undertaken as a non-regul​ated risk analysis​​.

The department’s non-regulated risk analyses include:

  • scientific reviews of existing policy or import conditions
  • reviews of biosecurity measures in light of new scientific information.

Conducting a non-regulated risk analysis

Non-regulated risk analyses are undertaken through an administrative proces​s which is not provided for in law, however they still meet Australia’s international rights and obligations.

The department reviews import policy not only when there is a change in biosecurity risk, but also when there are technological advancements or process improvements that removes or minimises the biosecurity risk associated with a particular good.

These reviews are often driven by industry requests and usually result in more treatment options that importers can undertake to meet biosecurity requirements.

The department uses a similar technical methodology to conduct a scientific review of existing policy as it does to conduct BIRAs. As with BIRAs, specific adjustments and modifications to methods are explained in the individual reports.

Notification of a non-regulated risk analysis

Notifications for all significant or complex scientific reviews of existing policy are provided to stakeholders who have registered to receive Biosecurity Advices notices via the Biosecurity Advice notice stakeholder register.

Factors considered in an analysis

When the department conducts a risk analysis, there are a range of factors that are taken into consideration.

Regional differences

Differences in pest and disease status, geography, climate, host and vector distribution across geographic regions is considered throughout a BIRA and is an intrinsic part of the risk analysis.

This is commonly referred to as regional differences.

An example of an import risk analysis where regional differences was considered is in the Final report for table grapes from Japan 2014.

Calculating risk estimation

The department uses a formal methodology to assess biosecurity risk. This methodology is consistent with international guidelines and includes assessment tools such as a risk estimation matrix.

Examples of where a risk estimation matrix was used include:

Last reviewed: 4 February 2020
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