Group pest risk analyses

​​​We are improving the effectiveness and consistency of the pest risk analysis (PRA) process. A key step in this process is the development of a group PRA approach.

In a PRA, we evaluate the evidence to determine whether an organism:

  • is a pest
  • needs regulation
  • needs phytosanitary measures to manage its biosecurity risk.

We consider the biosecurity risk posed by groups of pests across numerous import pathways and address new and emerging risks in a group PRA. This process evaluates groups of pest organisms that share common biological characteristics and as a result, also have similar likelihoods of entry, establishment and spread, and comparable consequences, thus posing a similar level of biosecurity risk.

Group PRAs are:

  • built on a foundation of more than 18 years of PRAs by our department through an extensive process of robust scientific analysis and stakeholder consultation with state and territory authorities, industry organisations and trading partners
  • validated with scientific evidence, including interception data collected at Australia’s borders, examination of thousands of research papers on significant pests recognised internationally, in Australian industry biosecurity plans, and those identified as regional pests for Australia in consultation with states and territories
  • building blocks that can be used to review existing and prospective trade pathways for which a PRA is required, avoiding the need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when analysing the risks of individual species, whilst maintaining a robust system to protect against exotic pest and disease incursions, including new and emerging risks.

We use group PRAs to identify risk management measures and alternative risk management options that may be considered on a case-by-case basis when developing new import conditions for specific commodities, or reviewing existing import conditions for commodities that are currently traded.

Development of group pest risk analyses

We follow 3 principal steps when conducting group PRAs:

  1. Our experts conduct a review of scientific knowledge relevant to the group of pests and prepare a PRA.
  2. A draft group PRA is released for stakeholder consultation. The draft group PRA identifies the biosecurity risks and risk management measures required to achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection.
  3. Stakeholder comments are considered, the group PRA is finalised and we issue a biosecurity advice.

The group PRA approach is an initiative funded through the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to strengthen biosecurity surveillance and analysis.

Pest groups under review

We are conducting group PRAs for a number of insect pest groups and the viruses they transmit, including:

Other pest groups will be considered for future group PRAs.

Considerations during a pest risk analysis

Protection from exotic pests

We undertake comprehensive risk assessments of pests and diseases and identify risk management options to address any risks of exotic pests and diseases. These measures reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

Zero risk is impossible. Aiming for zero risk would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed to the lowest possible level.

Australia exports almost two-thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agricultural and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain a good animal and plant health status.

Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve an appropriate level of protection for Australia.

International obligations

As a World Trade Organization (WTO) member, we are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement). Through this agreement, all members have both rights and obligations.

The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:

  • be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
  • only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
  • be based on science
  • not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.

Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory — in other words, its own appropriate level of protection.

Appropriate level of protection

The appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as ‘a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero’. This definition was agreed with all our state and territory governments and recognises that a zero-risk stance is impractical.

The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.

Read more about Australia’s ALOP.

Biosecurity risk

The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.

Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.

Identification of risk

A risk analysis is an examination of the potential biosecurity risks associated with an import of animals, plants or other goods into Australia. It plays an important role in protecting Australia’s biosecurity.

If the assessed level of biosecurity risk does not achieve the ALOP for Australia, we will consider whether or not risk management measures would reduce the biosecurity risk to achieve the ALOP. If there are no risk management measures that reduce the risk to that level, trade will not be allowed.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to us at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. We will consider the information provided and review the analysis.

More information

You can register as a stakeholder to receive regular updates on these reviews.

For further information, contact us on 1800 900 090 or send us an inquiry.

Last reviewed: 6 November 2020
Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks! Your feedback has been submitted.

We aren't able to respond to your individual comments or questions.
To contact us directly phone us or submit an online inquiry

Please verify that you are not a robot.