Message from the CEO – March 2024

  • Message from the CEO – March 2024 image

The first quarter of 2024 has been extremely productive with PHA represented at numerous biosecurity industry events, a meeting with our Board, participating in national committees, finalising our Mid-Year Performance Report (MYPR) and developing our 2024-25 Annual Operational Plan (AOP).

Board Meeting (BM) 114 was held in Melbourne at the end of February with the agenda including discussions on strategic issues such as Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) management and compliance, the capability index and a review of the national diagnostic system’s annual report. Operational matters covered finance and budgets, audit and risk, people and culture and upcoming Member meetings. While in Melbourne, the Board visited Velisha, Frangapane and Boratto Farms who grow a range of produce including brassicas such as fresh lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and other vegetables. Their field trip concluded with a visit to Agriculture Victoria’s AgriBio Centre for AgriBioscience and a look at the new mobile lab van, followed by a visit to experience and understand the biosecurity operations being delivered by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry at the Australia Post Melbourne Gateway facility.

PHA’s MYPR was approved at BM 114 and has been published on our website. The MYPR marks the halfway point in our financial year and reflects our progress against the Strategic and Operational Priorities outlined in our Strategic Plan 2022–27, as well as the activities captured in the Annual Operational Plan (AOP) 2023–24. Development on the draft AOP 2024-25 is well underway and will be presented to Members at the AOP webinar on Thursday, 28 March 2024.  Following the AOP webinar, Member feedback on the draft AOP can be provided during the month of April. The updated draft AOP incorporating Member feedback, will be distributed to Members ahead of the General Meeting in May.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of being the Master of Ceremonies (MC) at the inaugural Australian Citrus Congress hosted by Citrus Australia. This one-day event focused on Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, the international impact of HLB and the tools and knowledge to assess the risk of this exotic disease to the Australian citrus industry.

At PHA we are passionate about building capability and capacity both internally and externally with our plant biosecurity stakeholders and Member base. Over the next few weeks we’ll be launching a new eLearning course hosted on PHA’s Biosecurity Online Training platform (BOLT). The course titled: Introduction to the Australian Plant Pest Database (APPD) explores how to use the APPD to access information on vouchered specimens of plant pests and pathogens. It is designed for those who are new to the APPD and includes videos and clear overviews of the website’s features.

As a learning organisation we aim to create a culture where staff are encouraged to learn and grow. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Kirsten Schulz, our new Project Officer: Partnerships, and Evie Kielnhofer, moving to Project Officer: Biosecurity Planning. Dr Rachel Mann has been appointed as the new Manager: EPPRD, supported by Dr Carolyn Blomley as Emergency Response Coordinator. Congratulations to Trevor Dunmall on his appointment as CEO of the Australian Mango Industry Association. We are so pleased that we can continue to work together in your new role.