Notice to Industry 12: Pre Export Quarantine Facility Audit Frequency Policy

Introduction:

The purpose of this document is to communicate the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources auditing frequency policy for overseas pre export quarantine (PEQ) facilities preparing live horses for export to Australia.

Background:

Following the equine influenza (EI) outbreak in 2007 and subsequent inquiry and Callinan report of 2008, the department implemented new arrangements to improve oversight and compliance of overseas PEQ facilities preparing live horses for export to Australia.

Since 2010, PEQ facilities that pass a desk and site audit were approved for two years.

The number of audits completed by the department each year is dependent on industry requests to establish new PEQ facilities or renew existing facilities. Australia’s regular auditing regime has highlighted to exporting countries how rigorously Australia implements our equine import conditions aimed at preventing entry of exotic equine diseases to Australia, including EI, a disease for which many countries have no particular concerns.

To date, facilities have generally been on a two year cycle with some facilities moved to a four year cycle when they met certain criteria. Such criteria included:

  • frequency of use;
  • complexity of biosecurity arrangement;
  • previous audit results; and
  • demonstration of compliance.

Policy:

The department aims to reduce regulatory burden on industry and promote clarity and consistency across all facilities, countries, and industry members. From 2018 onwards all PEQ facilities will follow the same approval procedure and schedule.

All new facilities require the department’s assessment and approval of its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual. Once approved, the department will arrange a site audit of the PEQ facility. This site audit involves a physical assessment of the facility, assessment of horse training facilities and procedures (if applicable) and interview of key staff and personnel.  Following successful desk audit of the SOP manual and site audit of the new facility, all initial approvals will be valid for two years.

If the PEQ facility is used to prepare consignments of horses within the two year validity period, the facility will require a site audit prior to the two year expiry date, which will include assessment of the records produced during preparation of consignments at the facility. If it passes this audit, the facility will move to the four year audit schedule.

If a newly approved facility is not used to prepare consignments of horses for export within the two year validity period, the facility can remain approved for use without further site inspections until after the first use. In these cases, importers must notify the department as soon as possible when the PEQ facility is intended for use, and demonstrate that the approved SOP manual, site set-up and management structure have not deviated from the original approval. Photographic evidence must be provided that shows the new facility in accordance with the approved SOP manual and original inspection. Once the facility has been used, it will require inspection and audit of consignment records within the 12 months following the facility’s use. If successful at this audit, the facility will move to the four year cycle.

Please note that in addition to the above, the department will review the individual circumstances of each facility based on biosecurity risk when considering whether a four year audit cycle is appropriate. Audit frequency may be increased in some circumstances, for example where there has been a history of poor compliance, management changes, control issues, structural changes to the facility, or changes in the disease status of the exporting country. In some cases, an additional audit within an approval validity period may be deemed necessary and the basis for the decision would be communicated with the relevant parties at the time and on a case by case basis.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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