NPBPS – Strategic direction to 2031

The strategy identifies five interconnected goals to achieve the vision to 2031. The goals and expected outcomes are:

Each goal is supported by a series of actions that are described in this section. More information on the implementation of the strategy, including performance measures, key contributors and indicative timeframes for delivery[1], is available in the National Plant Biosecurity Preparedness Strategy Implementation Plan. The implementation plan also sets out governance arrangements for the strategy along with provisions for review and reporting.

[1] All timeframes are indicative and should not preclude the commencement of any actions before the date set out in the implementation plan.

Goal 1: Stronger national and international connections.

Expected outcome: Improved plant biosecurity preparedness delivery through collaborative partnerships between stakeholder groups nationally and internationally.

ACTION 1.1: Establish a shared and agreed understanding of roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in the national plant biosecurity system.

Managing plant biosecurity risks and protecting our biosecurity status is a shared responsibility among a wide range of stakeholders. Previously, the roles and responsibilities for system participants have not been clearly understood, coordinated or broadly consulted and agreed.

An important step in realising a shared responsibility is identifying, establishing and assigning roles and responsibilities for all plant biosecurity stakeholders. These stakeholders include all levels of government, plant industry bodies, growers, research organisations, universities, environmental groups, natural resource managers, supply chains and the wider community. They also include overseas trading partners and near neighbours.

Once agreed, there is a need to ensure everyone is aware of and acknowledges their roles, responsibilities and accountabilities as well as those of other system participants. This will ensure that stakeholders meet their biosecurity obligations and can effectively identify and respond to the challenges facing the system.

ACTION 1.2: Establish ongoing forums for stakeholders to focus on plant biosecurity preparedness activities.

A number of national plant biosecurity preparedness-focused groups and forums have been formed in recent years. While these platforms have supported a range of specific projects, they are often temporary in nature and would benefit from being conducted in a coordinated manner.

Ongoing and nationally coordinated groups, committees, networks and forums to discuss plant biosecurity preparedness and deliver positive outcomes will help reduce duplication of effort and promote the sharing of information. This should focus on bringing together the views of stakeholders identified through Action 1.1 such as government, plant industries, environmental groups and the wider community (including Indigenous individuals and communities) to help everyone better manage biosecurity risks and prepare for the impact of plant pests and weeds.

In some cases, existing arrangements will continue provide an appropriate mechanism for collaboration. In other instances, new arrangements will need to be developed. This could include strengthening connections with international forums that have already been established, or the formation of a new subcommittee under PHC on plant biosecurity preparedness that includes plant industries.

ACTION 1.3: Grow partnerships to prevent the entry of plant biosecurity threats and identify control and management options relevant to the Australian context.

Domestic and international partnerships are not only important for ‘peace’ time to keep plant pests and weeds offshore and address emerging risks but are also vital if, and when, a plant biosecurity incursion occurs to facilitate better cooperation during a response.

Through this action, pre-border activities should be undertaken to reduce the risk of plant pests and weeds entering Australia. Activities should focus on growing connections with neighbouring countries and international bodies to identify tools or protocols to mitigate and respond to plant biosecurity risks. There is also value in extending collaboration within Australia through connecting with various stakeholder groups and different sectors with similar purposes (e.g. animal and human health, biodiversity) where similar technologies, challenges and policies exist.

The ability to grow productive and mutually beneficial partnerships will ensure that resources are prioritised and used more effectively. It will also assist with intelligence gathering and best-practice knowledge sharing of pest biology, ecology, behaviour and management.


Goal 2: Enhanced and improved capacity and capability to mitigate and respond to plant biosecurity risks.

Expected outcome: Skilled people, contemporary systems and technologies that are prepared to mitigate plant biosecurity risks and are response ready.

ACTION 2.1: Identify and address current and emerging capacity and capability gaps across the national plant biosecurity system.

The ability to strengthen Australia’s level of preparedness is challenged by the capacity and capability of participants to effectively undertake activities to prepare for and manage plant biosecurity risks associated with plant pests and weeds.

In order to ensure the required capabilities can be sustained, there is a requirement to have a clear understanding of the capability requirements to effectively carry out preparedness activities. There is also a need to identify the current and emerging gaps in capabilities (people, resources, systems, governance and processes) and address these gaps through reasonable measures. Options to enhance and develop capabilities could include training (Action 2.4), awareness activities (Action 3.2), access to registered chemicals (Action 4.3), targeted recruitment and the use of new technologies.

Successfully identifying these gaps and implementing measures to address them will ensure that individuals, groups and organisations are empowered and maintain an appropriate level of skills and expertise. It will also help foster partnerships across a range of groups and sectors, and improve the ability to generate timely and appropriate surge capacity during emergencies.

ACTION 2.2: Develop and implement tools to improve the detection, identification and prioritisation of plant pests and weeds.

The continued development of new and improved tools is critical to managing current and future biosecurity risks. This is particularly important given the size of Australia and our relatively sparse population, and the number of crops/plant types, environments and potential targets that must be addressed.

Practical and easy to use tools are needed to improve the detection, identification and prioritisation of plant pests and weeds. In partnership with plant industries and other stakeholders as appropriate, development of these tools should consider a range of factors including new research, incursions overseas and changes to potential entry pathways.

The successful adoption of these tools will improve system efficiency and ensure participants are skilled and responsive. It will also support early detection or market access outcomes, and form the foundations for plant industries to actively participate and support the system.

ACTION 2.3: Address barriers and establish incentives to improve engagement and the adoption of plant biosecurity practices

Motivating people about plant biosecurity and good plant biosecurity practices is an ongoing challenge. This covers many different areas and groups including government staff, small- and large-scale plant industries, environmental groups, supply chain participants, hobby farmers and the wider community, especially culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

Understanding the differences across system participants, and their values and perceptions of plant biosecurity, will help develop more targeted and effective engagement approaches. While there is already work progressing in this area in Australia and overseas, continued efforts will help improve participation and support delivered to participants while ensuring information flows are simplified, more targeted and delivered through appropriate mechanisms.

The ability to identify the barriers to participation will provide a useful basis to design incentives to overcome the barriers and promote the benefits. The incentives identified through this action could also help inform efforts that recognise and celebrate stakeholder contributions to the national plant biosecurity system (Action 3.3).

ACTION 2.4: Develop and deliver training and simulation exercises to test preparedness to biosecurity incidents

The ability to deal with a significant incursion requires people with the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience at all levels of a response. Where this is not possible, suitable training, coaching and/or mentoring should be provided.

A national program of training and simulation exercises for the plant biosecurity system will help build preparedness and test readiness for an incursion. Training material for plant pests and weeds should continue to be made available through a variety of formats and platforms to accommodate different learning styles and accessibility. Tailored simulation exercises for plant pests should also be delivered regularly to support other forms of training and test specific aspects of a response.

The design and development of these activities should consider known gaps in capability across the national plant biosecurity system, including those identified through Action 2.1. Learning experiences from other exercises or real life responses should also be considered to ensure those learnings are addressed to enhance preparedness for future responses.


Goal 3: Enhanced participation and achievement of biosecurity outcomes.

Expected outcome: Improved participation in preparedness activities through a greater awareness of plant biosecurity risks.

ACTION 3.1: Develop material to promote awareness of obligations and responsibilities of stakeholders across the national plant biosecurity system.

Australia’s biosecurity system is built on the principle of shared responsibility among all system participants including governments, plant industry bodies, exporters and importers, farmers, miners, tourists, researchers and the wider community. However, for many, this is a challenging concept to understand and embrace.

The development of sound and contemporary guidance material targeted at plant biosecurity stakeholders identified through Action 1.1 will support efforts to make Australians more aware of plant biosecurity risks and acknowledge their obligations and responsibilities. It will also help stakeholders acknowledge the benefits of compliance within these responsibilities and facilitate the uptake and normalisation of plant biosecurity issues in the collective thinking of system participants.

Options for this material could include the development of case studies, guidelines, examples of best practice, or standards such as nationally recognised best practice standards for businesses and community organisations who manage biosecurity risks. It is recommended that the material developed is effectively promoted and periodically reviewed and updated to ensure it remains accurate, relevant and fit for purpose.

ACTION 3.2: Implement national education campaigns to increase awareness of plant biosecurity risks, management actions and the principle of shared responsibility

Large and sustained national education campaigns will be key to increase plant biosecurity awareness and encourage biosecurity action. This should integrate with other sectors and target high-risk plant biosecurity stakeholder groups identified through Action 1.1. It could prioritise awareness raising for school-aged children to help educate the next generation as well as volunteer and community groups already involved in environment and land management.

The mechanisms used should be appropriate to the communication and information needs of the range of plant biosecurity stakeholders and regularly evaluated to determine their effectiveness. Options could include general advertising, web-based campaigns, information kits, site visits and educational television. They should also consider the outcomes of Action 3.1 where guidance material to help make stakeholders aware of their general biosecurity obligations will be developed.

Through the successful delivery of national education campaigns, Australians will be more aware and knowledgeable about plant biosecurity risks and management actions. It will also help normalise good biosecurity behaviour and realise the principle of shared responsibility by ensuring that everyone is aware of and acknowledge their roles and responsibilities and those of other system participants.

ACTION 3.3: Support efforts that recognise and celebrate stakeholder contributions to the national plant biosecurity system

For many years, the Australian Biosecurity Awards have provided a way to celebrate individuals, groups and organisations that have worked to strengthen the national biosecurity system. Already the awards feature multiple categories that recognise the wide range of stakeholders and the diverse aspects of the plant biosecurity national system.

It is recommended that these awards are continued and broadened over time to include new categories and sectors that align with new areas of focus for plant biosecurity. Opportunities for other incentives that recognise and celebrate positive stakeholder contributions to plant biosecurity should also be investigated, such as continuity insurance and regulatory relief for high health production systems. The incentives identified as part of this action should consider the outcomes of Action 2.3.

A strong culture of recognition will help foster a sense of purpose and reinforce that the efforts and contributions of plant biosecurity stakeholders are appreciated. It could also serve as a primary source of information for others on good biosecurity practices.


Goal 4: Production and environmental assets protected and market access maintained.

Expected outcome: Reduced impact of plant biosecurity incursions on the environment, community, trade and market access.

ACTION 4.1: Develop and maintain contingency material and/or environmental asset management plans for plant biosecurity risks.

Coverage of priority pests with contingency plans has increased over the last decade although there are many High Priority Pests or National Priority Plant Pests without coverage.

The continued development of contingency material for plant biosecurity risks and export market access risks will provide different businesses, plant industries and sectors with detailed information to improve readiness for a particular exotic plant pest risk. Efforts should focus on improving the way contingency material is developed and delivered to increase functionality and better tailor the content to the needs of stakeholders. Once developed, there is value in testing contingency material through national simulation exercises in advance of an incursion (Action 2.4).

A range of documents that guide and inform the management of a range of environmental assets (e.g. national parks, conservation areas, reserves, community parks and other places) already exist, yet they may not take into account plant biosecurity risks. Working with managers of environmental assets to include this consideration will ensure there is appropriate awareness and should help inform improvements in preparedness and response capabilities.

ACTION 4.2: Establish domestic market access arrangements prior to the detection of exotic plant pests.

Having pre-agreed domestic market access arrangements in place prior to the detection of exotic plant pests will assist in minimising any disruption to the domestic trade of plants and plant products. It will also help provide continuity of market access by allowing some businesses to continue trade in the event of an incursion.

There is value in these arrangements being developed for eradicable plant pests so trade can continue during responses, as well as plant pests that are not good candidates for eradication. The identification of these plant pests should be informed by the outcomes of Action 5.3, with efforts helping reduce barriers to reporting and promote a willingness to report new plant pests early. There is also scope to consider improvements to the domestic market access system to protect against the spread of regionalised plant pests and provide support during responses.

Options could include the development of a biosecurity assurance system, nationally agreed market access procedures or protocols. There is a need to ensure the arrangements developed are adequately supported by existing systems. They should also be clearly communicated with stakeholders, including growers, in a timely manner to increase awareness and ensure they are understood across the system.

ACTION 4.3: Establish pre-emptive arrangements for the containment and control of exotic plant pests and weeds.

Establishing appropriate arrangements prior to the detection of exotic plant pests and weeds will help manage an outbreak in the early stages. It will also contribute to social license and assist in minimising any disruption to the domestic trade of plants and plant products and/or damage to the environment.

These arrangements could include the use of pre-agreed chemicals, biological control agents and other approaches informed by long term research and development. It is recommended that initial efforts are prioritised towards high-risk plant pest and weed threats to ensure that, where possible, arrangements are available for response programs, use in the event of the eradication failing or asset protection of the environment.


Goal 5: Recover and management supported during and following plant biosecurity incursions.

Expected outcome: Plant industries, the environment and communities recover rapidly and fully after a biosecurity incident.

ACTION 5.1: Develop and maintain a national model for funding recovery efforts for affected communities, businesses, industries and the environment.

Resourcing to support recovery efforts associated with a plant biosecurity incursion is an ongoing challenge and a better approach is needed to support the national plant biosecurity system into the future.

The development of a national model for funding recovery activities will provide an integrated and consistent approach to support the social, economic and physical recovery of affected communities, businesses. plant industries and the environment. It will also assist in environmental maintenance or restoration activities in relation to biosecurity incidents associated with plant pests and weeds.

ACTION 5.2: Develop and maintain capability to provide immediate relief to affected communities, industries and the environment during a response.

The scoping, development and implementation of recovery plans can be a prolonged effort and affected communities may need more immediate support to minimise the impacts of the biosecurity incident and response operations. This can especially be the case where the identification and emergence of all production, social, economic and environmental consequences may take time.

Immediate ‘relief’, shorter-term and more rapidly implemented support, is needed to meet the needs of affected producers and their communities to continue to function during periods of lost employment or income, movement restrictions and social isolation. This includes agricultural communities as well as those reliant on the environment for income.

Options for providing this support could include the development of agreed national recovery principles and investigating alternative income for affected plant industries.

ACTION 5.3: Develop national partnership arrangements for responding to Emergency Plant Pests that are not (or unlikely to be) technically feasible to eradicate.

Significant resources are invested in national plant pest eradication programs. However, there are occasions where an Emergency Plant Pest (EPP) that enters Australia may not be suitable for eradication. In these circumstances, there is a requirement for national partnership arrangements for managing responses in the short to medium term.

It is recommended that such arrangements include the necessary leadership, coordination, management and communication to ensure that when a biosecurity incursion occurs, roles and responsibilities are understood, and operational actions are rapid and effective.

This will provide a consistent and agreed national approach for responding to EPPs that are not (or unlikely to be) technically feasible to eradicate. It will also deliver an integrated approach to the funding and management of these plant pests to enhance Australia’s preparedness and response capability.