National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network

The National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network (NBCEN) produces nationally consistent public information in response to pest and disease outbreaks (biosecurity incidents) that impact on Australia’s agricultural industries and the environment.

The network consists of communication managers from the Australian, state and territory agriculture agencies, Plant Health Australia, Animal Health Australia, CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, and the Australian Government Department of Health. The Australian Local Government Association, Wildlife Health Australia, Invasive Species Council and the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions are observers.

Communication essential during biosecurity incidents

Biosecurity incidents can impact many people including affected producers/growers and their local communities, overseas trading partners, stakeholders such as exporters and supply chain service providers, and the general public.

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

Public Information personnel training video

This video is intended for Public Information personnel who are being deployed and/or inducted into an Incident Management Team (IMT) which is managing a response to a biosecurity incident.

The video will help you understand the role of the Public Information function within the IMT.  It also provides an overview of the national response arrangements, processes and tools that are in place to manage the incident.

Please watch the Public Information function training video if you are a communications person being deployed to assist in a response.

Public information role (transcript) DOCX [25 KB]

Role of the NBCEN

Biosecurity incidents

During a major biosecurity incident (in the ‘response’ phase), the NBCEN will:

  • provide strategic communication advice to the relevant national Consultative Committee and National Management Group
  • develop national talking points (key messages), and if required, a communication strategy
  • operate in accordance with national biosecurity response arrangements including using emergency communication principles and procedures as described in the Biosecurity Incident Public Information Manual (BIPIM)
  • explain policies, plans and practices in a response to all stakeholders clearly, consistently, openly and quickly
  • facilitate the flow of public information between the jurisdictions
  • provide experienced communication officers to other jurisdictions (where available and/or necessary)
  • publish content to the national pest and disease Outbreak website (


During non-response times, the NBCEN:

  • reports to the National Biosecurity Committee
  • coordinates communication preparedness activities for biosecurity incidents including
    • crisis communication training (including participating in emergency response exercises)
    • preparation and updates of communication tools, operation manuals and guidelines, resources and arrangements
    • shares communication plans, research outcomes, lessons learnt, resources and other relevant materials with other NBCEN members.


The NBCEN is chaired by the Senior Manager, Communications and Engagement, Animal Health Australiafor a twelve month term.

The NBCEN’s core membership comprises relevant communication managers from:

  • the Australian Government Department of Agriculture
  • state and territory agriculture/biosecurity agencies
  • Animal Health Australia
  • Plant Health Australia
  • CSIRO/Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness
  • the Australian Government Department of Health.

The Australian Local Government Association, Wildlife Heath Australia, Invasive Species Council and the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions are observers.

During an incident, the NBCEN expands its membership by inviting communication managers from:

  • industries affected by the incident (that are signatories to either the Emergency Plant Pest Deed, the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement or the National Environmental Response Agreement
  • other relevant Commonwealth, state or territory government agencies
  • non-government environment organisations
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand
  • the Australian Food and Grocery Council
  • the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
  • other groups identified as critical to the response.


NBCEN meets monthly,face-to-face twice a year and outside this schedule  as required. Its meetings are rotated between its core members, and hosted in their jurisdiction. Following its face-to-face meeting, NBCEN issues a Communiqué that outlines its current work activities.


The NBCEN Secretariat sits within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture in Canberra and can be contacted by emailing NBCEN.