Biosecurity communicators gather in Darwin


Biosecurity communicators from around Australia gathered in Darwin in early May where they heard about lessons identified from recent emergency plant pest responses and took the opportunity to visit the citrus canker emergency operations centre.

The National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network (NBCEN) members who took part in the meeting were from DAWR, state and territory governments, PHA, Animal Health Australia, CSIRO and an observer from Wildlife Health Australia.

Presenters from the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources included Executive Director of Biosecurity and Animal Welfare, Sarah Corcoran, Chief Plant Health Officer, Anne Walters, and National Biosecurity Emergency Preparedness Experts Group member Jessica Arnold. They spoke about the successful eradication of banana freckle and the recent emergency response to citrus canker.

NT Farmers’ Chris Pham presented on building the biosecurity awareness of farmers with English as a second language in the Northern Territory, and Sarah Hain spoke on pest and disease surveillance in the mango industry.

Network members shared lessons identified on the communication and engagement aspects of responses to detections of brown marmorated stink bugs in Australia.

Other plant biosecurity related presentations were on engaging with peri-urban and hobby farmers, national preparedness for Xylella fastidiosa, sterile fruit fly technology, the new role of Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer and the International Year of Plant Health in 2020.

The NBCEN facilitates the rapid and consistent dissemination of information that people need to prevent and respond to a pest or disease outbreak. The network also plays a pivotal role in pest and disease prevention and preparedness through communication and stakeholder engagement activities.

A priority of the network is refining the public information function procedures for emergency responses and building the cohort of professionals who can contribute in responses.