PHA has four new NBRT cadets

  • PHA has four new NBRT cadets image

Plant Health Australia’s (PHA) Luke McKee, Mandy Jarvis, Emily Sears, and Niki Sheperd recently attended the latest National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT) Cadet training program, held 12 – 13 October in Canberra.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) partnered with the ACT government to present the training program to 26 nominated individuals from across the biosecurity spectrum in the ACT, including PHA, the Department of Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPPSD), Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS), Icon Water, and Suburban Land Agency.

Biosecurity response management specialist, Craig Elliott from P2R2 Consulting, facilitated the workshop, which included a range of scenarios and tasks designed to build foundational knowledge and help develop the necessary skills to address potential animal and plant incursions in a biosecurity emergency preparedness and response.

The NBRT training is designed to focus on the mechanics and functions of biosecurity response and arrangements at both state and national levels. Attendees actively engaged in problem-solving exercises based on diverse scenarios, preparing them for various potential biosecurity incidents. All attendees had the opportunity to meet and network with a wide variety of people from across industries in the ACT and increase the pool of those available to call on in the event of a biosecurity response.

PHA Biosecurity Officer Luke McKee found it beneficial to learn about what is involved in a biosecurity emergency event and how and where people are deployed in response to an incident. “The NBRT training program is a great opportunity for PHA to build capacity of its staff through the development of knowledge and skills in a biosecurity emergency response, which also aligns with PHA’s learning strategy objectives,” he said.

Niki Shepherd, Training Officer at PHA said it was a unique and worthwhile opportunity to learn in detail about responses in Australia and to hear directly from people who have worked in emergency response experiences in Australia, and specifically in the ACT.

Emily Sears, Manager, Animal Health Systems at PHA said working through the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) scenario helped to reinforce the different tasks and functional areas in a response and gave us a greater appreciation of the practicalities and broader impacts of a biosecurity response.

Mandy Jarvis, Marketing and Communications Specialist at PHA, was impressed by the wide and varied practical experiences of the presenters in some of Australia’s past biosecurity incursions, including Myrtle rust, Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) and the recent Varroa mite response. “It was so interesting to hear about real-life experiences and the extent of response preparedness activities that are already in place for potential exotic pest and disease incursions in the animal and plant space, including Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Xyllela virus.”

Since its formation in 2017, the NBRT has been developing and maintaining a pool of response-ready personnel cross Australia that can be accessed by a jurisdiction’s biosecurity agency when responding to a biosecurity incident.  The goal of the program is to elevate biosecurity emergency preparedness and response capabilities in each jurisdiction. By maintaining a critical mass of cross-sectoral response-ready personnel, the initiative supports national efforts and assists jurisdictional preparedness, ensuring a robust and well-coordinated response to future biosecurity challenges.

The NBRT comprises 70 members from the Australian, state and territory governments who are grouped into either the mentor or Incident Management Team (IMT) functional cohort. In addition, NBRT members are appointed to one of the following functions: Incident Management; Liaison; Logistics; Operations; Planning, or Public Information.

The workshop also included presentations from Kirsten Tasker (Biosecurity and Rural Programs Coordinator), Bruce Hancock (Director, Biosecurity and Agriculture Policy at ACT Government), and Tony Scherl (Director of Fire Planning).

The program provided a comprehensive overview of the mechanics of a response, from the investigation and alert phase, through the operations phase to either area freedom or transition to management, including the different levels of response, from level one localised responses to level five where international support may be required.

Visit for more information on the NRBT program.