Pacific visitors to PHA

May 17, 2019

PHA is pleased to be hosting two Pacific Islander biosecurity specialists for three weeks as part of the Pacific Plant Biosecurity Program.

The capacity building program is a joint initiative of the Australian Centre for International Research and the Crawford Fund.

Plant pests and diseases affect food production in the Pacific Islands and can limit trade and market access opportunities.

Through the program the visiting biosecurity specialists have the opportunity to learn from Australian and New Zealand expertise to strengthen the skills and networks of professionals in the Pacific region.

The 19 Pacific Islanders in Australia began their stay with a week in Brisbane and an introduction to biosecurity in Australia.

They are now posted around the country in biosecurity related organisations. PHA is hosting two:Touasi Tiwok from Vanuatu and Julianne Mose from the Solomon Islands.

Vanuatu perspective

Touasi Tiwok is the Principal Biosecurity Officer with the Department of Biosecurity in Vanuatu.

She says she has gained from exposure to the various aspects of biosecurity in Australia related to policy, border biosecurity and other aspects of the system.

“We don’t have the same infrastructure, but we can see what aspects of the Australian system we could potentially adapt and use.”

“One of the things I’ve been very pleased to learn about at PHA is how the pest risk assessments are done for biosecurity plans.”

During her stay, Touasi has been interested to learn how Australia facilitates trade with other countries and how this related to trade in the Pacific.

“It’s also been very good to establish the connections with other biosecurity specialists. Now, if I need to follow up an issue relating to imports or exports, I will know who can assist us,” she shared.

 Solomon Islands to benefit

Julianne Mose, Senior Biosecurity Officer with Biosecurity Solomon Islands, says Australia is already helping BSI with setting up biosecurity systems which are capable of safeguarding the country’s pests status and facilitating market access through international trade.

“Coming to Australia and having this experience at PHA has broadened my thinking by building my knowledge and giving me greater clarity in relation to biosecurity measures,” said Julianne.

“In the Solomon Islands we face issues such as a shortage of officers, lack of proper facilities and not having enough staff to specialise in certain areas.”

“One of the things I am looking forward to with the new capacity and capability I have, is to share with my colleagues what I’ve learnt about biosecurity in Australia.”

The Pacific Island fellows will next complete a course in communication, engagement and advocacy in Brisbane to finish their five weeks in Australia.