Message from the CEO – March 2021

  • Message from the CEO – March 2021 image


In a world still defined by fluctuating coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, it continues to be challenging for us at Plant Health Australia (PHA) to bring together and partner with our stakeholders to solve problems and develop solutions to achieve our collective goals.

Despite Covid-19 restrictions, this month I’m pleased to release PHA’s Mid-Year Performance Report, which not only looks back on the first half of the financial year, but also marks my first six months as CEO of PHA.

As we look ahead to the next six months, we’ve engaged an external consultant to assist with the development of our new five-year Strategic Plan to deliver on priorities for plant health, manage transitions and change, and provide the foundation for long-term agricultural, economic and biosecurity outcomes for Australia. The new Strategic Plan launch is planned for our Annual General Meeting in November.

Participating in reviews of the biosecurity system is also critical to understanding the threats and opportunities for the nation. Last month, PHA’s Executive Management Team (EMT) met with the Inspector-General of Biosecurity to discuss his review of the ‘department’s policies, systems, personnel capability, processes and communication to support discharge of biosecurity responsibilities at the frontline’. This review clearly identified clear benefits in and support for, retaining cross-sector consultative committees.

The EMT is also in the midst of developing PHA’s streamlined 2021–22 Annual Operational Plan (AOP) to focus on project outcomes and achievements that relate to strengthening the national biosecurity system. The AOP webinar is scheduled for Wednesday 31 March 2021, and our members will be contacted closer to the date with registration details.

On the RD&E front, for the period January to March 2021, I assumed chairing responsibilities for the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI). The current focus for the PBRI is on implementing the investment plan through cross-sectoral RD&E workshops. Monthly workshops with researchers and PBRI members are being held on agreed high priority biosecurity topics, to determine specific areas of RD&E for cross-sectoral investment. The first one was last week on sea container hygiene and upcoming workshops will be on sustainable pest management, cross-sectoral biosecurity extension and fall armyworm.

Already this year we’ve welcomed a few new staff and recently farewelled other staff. You can read more about our staff movements below but I’m pleased that our farewelled staff will remain in the world of biosecurity and will be expanding their experience and knowledge of the system in their new adventures.

Later this year, the Biosecurity Collective – PHA, Animal Health Australia, Invasive Species Council and Centre for Invasive Species Solutions – will host the 2021 Australian Biosecurity Symposium. This key event on the Gold Coast, will drive forward the ‘Decade of Biosecurity 2021–30’. I encourage you to express your interest on the event website in order to receive updates including when registrations and abstracts open.

As we look even further towards 2030 and the biosecurity opportunities and challenges we collectively face in maintaining our strong biosecurity, I look forward to increased engagements over the coming months – including the face-to-face kind!

Sarah Corcoran

CEO, Plant Health Australia