National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network Communiqué

October 2019

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

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

The network facilitates the rapid and consistent dissemination of information that affected people need to prevent and respond to a pest or disease outbreak. Audiences may include affected producers/growers and their local communities, trading partners, the general public, media, and stakeholders such as exporters and supply chain service providers.

NBCEN also plays a pivotal role in pest and disease prevention and preparedness communication and stakeholder engagement activities.

NBCEN meeting

NBCEN held its face-to-face meeting in  Brisbane at the office of Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). The meeting was held on October 23 and 24, hosted by DAF.

Key outcomes

New Chair and ToR update

The NBCEN meeting was opened by new Chair, Malcolm Letts, Deputy Director-General and Chief Biosecurity Officer with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. This was the first meeting chaired by a National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) member, as previously agreed by NBC. This approach offers clearer reporting lines to NBC and better representation of the network’s agenda at NBC meetings.

NBCEN members welcomed the new Chair, and noted that the NBCEN Terms of Reference will be updated to reflect the new Chair.

International Year of Plant Health (IYPH)

2020 has been declared International Year of Plant Health.  Celebrations are being coordinated by a national steering committee chaired by the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer and comprised of Department of Agriculture staff and representatives of Plant Health Australia (PHA), peak industry bodies, and other key stakeholders.

NBCEN discussed how to support promotion of the year through a network IYPH working group. A digipack supporting the objectives of the national IYPH 2020 communications plan will be distributed for jurisdictions to use. All jurisdictions were asked to consider developing and submitting two or three case studies about plant health champions to the International Plant Protection Committee and Plant Health Australia to be published online.

Emerging threats

NBCEN shares updates on the status of the major emergency pest and disease threats to Australia’s plants or animals to better enable members to provide a consistent, co-ordinated communications approach to campaigns and key message development.

Xylella: NBCEN was updated on the progress of a national Xylella communication plan that is being developed by the national Xylella program manager. NBCEN will be asked to provide feedback on the plan as it progresses.

African Swine Fever (ASF): NBCEN agreed ASF is bringing biosecurity to the forefront and provides an opportunity to cement overarching incursion responses for any pest and disease. Animal Health Australia (AHA) is developing more communication resources, such as stakeholder factsheets on compensation. Many jurisdictions now have a complete package of communications materials and messages and these are being shared amongst the jurisdictions. These sit on NBCEN's Sharepoint portal.

Jurisdictions were asked to consider preparing a 72 hour post-incursion communication plan for their state. The Commonwealth will progress developing a national 72 hour post-incursion plan.  AHA will continue to lead an ASF communication group and identify information gaps. Jurisdictions will identify gaps on an information gap register.

Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB): The committed to share any available communications materials with the other jurisdictions on BMSB.

Industry engagement

NBCEN invites industry groups to present to the meeting to assist members to gain a better understanding of the most effective communication channels for industry and to increase industries understanding of the role of the public information function.

In Brisbane, banana industry representatives presented to NBCEN and suggested improvements to the process of communicating response arrangements to industry. In long term responses, email lists must be updated to ensure industry is accurately represented in response activities.

Public information and preparedness training

NBCEN have a role to play in helping to ensure there are training opportunities to support members of the National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT) and to provide resources for others working in biosecurity and industry to gain a better understanding of the Public Information (PI) function.

Queensland is providing NBRT induction and PI training in November 2019, and is considering future training opportunities, including an industry communication capability workshop in early 2020 and an introduction to PI training session. Jurisdictions were invited to fund representatives to attend. Once the workshop has been run, Queensland will provide the training in a template format. 

Further PI resources were discussed by NBCEN members. The Commonwealth has produced a video about the PI function on the Outbreak website and can be used by all jurisdictions. A stakeholder analysis template and a 72 hour post incursion checklist will be included in preparedness materials. A generic industry checklist will be developed as a resource attachment for the BIPIM, and jurisdictions’ social media channels list will be updated. NBCEN heard that NBRT conducted a recruitment process for additional PI trained staff and six people were selected from nine applications.

Following on from the May NBCEN meeting it was identified that NBCEN needed additional PI trained staff. NBRT had agreed to undertake a one-off recruitment process. Six people were selected from nine applications.

AHA’s Biosecurity 101 for industry workshop, demonstrated that face-to-face networking with industry is the most effective way to build capacity for responses. AHA will continue to look at resources including possible contributions from jurisdictions, to facilitate further opportunities that could be offered nationally.

Jurisdictions were asked to consider keeping a training calendar to show training activities and opportunities across the nation.

Biosecurity communication

Sharing insights and learnings in biosecurity communication planning, tactics and campaigns is a key function of the NBCEN network.

Queensland presented on their ongoing work in using behavioral research to inform the messaging delivered to the public during incidents. NBCEN members discussed having a national set of shared metrics to guide the approach to research. New South Wales Department for Primary Industries (NSW DPI) currently incorporate three standard survey questions in market research, however Queensland is seeking to use six standard questions. Further funding is required to source baseline data.. Jurisdictions were encouraged to continue sharing market research with NBCEN members.

NSW DPI provided an update on the Mission Biosecurity project. Topics and themes have been finalised and storyboarded, and are being sent to the jurisdictions for review. This campaign has been scheduled to be rolled out in 2020.

Queensland presented data about their growing digital channels. Their aim is to grow their Facebook followers to 100,000 by 2020. They recently invested money to accelerate the growth of their page. NBCEN will continue to explore ways to assist jurisdictions to share social media learnings, such as including more, best practice digital communications presentation at future meetings.

Queensland led discussions on national cost-shared arrangements and partnership branding. As there is currently no agreed approach to acknowledging those who are contributing to the program, it was agreed to seek endorsement from NBC on a two-tiered approach to branding programs with cost sharing arrangements in place. NBCEN will submit a paper to NBC for endorsement at their next meeting. If endorsed, this two-tiered approach will be written into the BIPIM.

NBCEN workshopped a national communication and engagement strategy for the network and how to align it with NBC expectations. A small working group will work to ensure NBCEN’s current projects respond to the items on the action matrix from previous meetings and meet the scope required. 

Tour of CSIRO

Rotating around jurisdictions for NBCEN meetings provides members with an opportunity to visit differing nationally significant biosecurity facilitates.

NBCEN members toured CSIRO’s Brisbane facilities at the ecosciences precinct, Dutton Park. Plant researchers talked to the network about the use and testing  of potential biocontrol agents to combat Australia’s invasive  exotic pest and diseases. They also presented on the processes of identifying biocontrol agents for Australian native plants that have become invasive in other countries.

Come and meet us!

NBCEN is dedicated to establishing relationships with our communication counterparts from industry. If you’re from a livestock or plant industry group or any of the associated supply chains, please feel free to come and meet us at one of our face-to-face meetings. Register your interest in meeting with us by emailing NBCEN.

Meeting attendees

The NBCEN’s October 2019 meeting in Brisbane was attended by the following members:

Malcolm Letts (Chair) - Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Monique Mahoney - Australian Government Department of Agriculture
Pip Gare - Australian Government Department of Agriculture
Kirsten Phillips- Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Hayley Beck - Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Tanya Armstrong - Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Mark O’Brien – NSW Department of Primary Industries
Jenny Ford – Agriculture Victoria
Nicole Cairns - Agriculture Victoria
Joanna Tsoukalas - Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA)
Rick Bryant - WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
Helena Bott (via Skype) – Department of Primary Industry and Resources
Lucy Morrison (via Skype) - Department of Primary Industry and Resources
Phil Wood (via Skype) – Biosecurity Tasmania
Lynn Broos (via Skype) – Biosecurity Tasmania
Lorraine Haase – Department of Health
Paris Lord (via Skype) – Australian Local Government Association
Mandy Gyles - Plant Health Australia
Jackie Poyser - Animal Health Australia
Danika Barnard - Animal Health Australia
Lisa Keen- Wildlife Health Australia
Cass Erbs – CSIRO
Asaesja Young – CSIRO
Ian McDonald - Centre for Invasive Species Solutions
David Kelly – Preparedness Group representative – Queensland

Next meeting

The next face-to-face meeting will be held in Sydney on 3 and 4 March 2020.

Contact NBCEN

For more information about NBCEN contact the Secretariat in the Department of Agriculture by emailing NBCEN or phone (02) 6272 2445.