How we respond to outbreaks
When there is an exotic pest or disease incursion in Australia (also referred to a biosecurity incident), arrangements are in place to commence a rapid nationally coordinated response. Our national response arrangements are based on an ‘all hazards’ approach so we can apply them across pests, diseases and weeds that impact on animal health (including aquatic animals), plants (grains, horticulture, nuts and forestry) and the environment (including marine).
There are also mechanisms in place that allow affected agricultural industry groups to have an integral role in the response.
Defining an emergency pest or disease
The national emergency response arrangements are triggered when there is an incursion of an exotic pest or disease i.e. it has never been here before or has not established here. These pests and diseases will be handled under an official eradication program and published on this website. Established (endemic) pests, diseases and weeds are not listed here. Information on these can be found through your state or territory agriculture department.
The official list of exotic pests and diseases are listed in the respective response agreements which are explained further below.
The Biosecurity Incident Management System
The Biosecurity Incident Management System (BIMS) has been developed to provide guidance on contemporary practices for the management of biosecurity incident responses and initial recovery operations in Australia. Although adapted for biosecurity, it is based on the same system used by other Australian emergency response service agencies. The structure of an Incident Management Team that comes together to respond to an incident is based on BIMS. Therefore, personnel fill specific roles in Public Information (communication); Planning; Operations; Logistics; and Finance and Administration.
BIMS co-exists with and complements current jurisdictional response and sector specific arrangements as described below on this page. It is flexible, scalable and uses common terminology.
Incident management teams formed using the BIMS structure can be established in a:
- Local Control Centre
- State Coordination Centre
- National Coordination Centre
The National Coordination Centre
The National Coordination Centre (NCC) is set up in Canberra at the Australian Government level and supports a nationally consistent approach to the management of biosecurity incidents. The NCC is responsible for coordinating pest or disease control measures, handles international communications and trade relations, and liaises with other Australian Government departments. It provides (Secretariat) support to the consultative committees and the National Management Group (NMG). It also coordinates the deployment of resources within Australia and from overseas to fill incident management teams roles.
State Coordination Centre
State Coordination Centres (SCCs) have responsibility for strategic planning and coordination of the response in their jurisdiction, and for ensuring that industry involvement and communications are in place.
Local Control Centre
Local Control Centres (LCCs) are responsible for the planning and conducting field operations (e.g. on farm) in a defined geographical area, usually the restricted area (RA). Depending on the response, some jurisdictions may also establish Forward command posts (FCPs) which have a similar role to the LCC but concentrate on a smaller geographic area.
Response Deeds and Agreements
The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement
The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) is an arrangement bringing together the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and livestock industry groups to significantly increase Australia’s capacity to prepare for and respond to emergency animal disease incursions. It provides for emergency animal disease responses to be cost-shared between governments and the affected industries. As its custodian, Animal Health Australia has more information about EADRA.
The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed
Plant Health Australia is the custodian of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD). This is a legally binding agreement between Plant Health Australia, the Australian Government, all state and territory governments and national plant industry bodies. The EPPRD covers the management and funding of responses to emergency plant pest incidents, including the potential for owner reimbursement costs for growers. It also formalises the role of plant industries’ participation in decision making, as well as their contribution towards the costs related to approved responses.
The key advantage of the EPPRD is more timely, effective and efficient response to plant pest incursions. It also minimises uncertainty over management and funding arrangements. Plant Health Australia has further information on the EPPRD.
National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement
The National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA) was delivered under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity. It sets out emergency response arrangements, including cost-sharing arrangements, for responding to biosecurity incidents that primarily impact on the environment and/or social amenity and where the response is for the public good.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has further information about the NEBRA.
For all diseases listed in EADRA, there is a preferred approach to how an incursion is managed. These preferred approaches have been developed and agreed upon by governments and relevant industries, and are captured in the Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) disease strategies and response policy briefs.
AUSVETPLAN is a comprehensive series of manuals that sets out the various roles, responsibilities and policy guidelines for agencies and organisations involved in the response to the disease outbreak.
The AUSVETPLAN documents are available on the Animal Health Australia website.
Similar to AUSVETPLAN, AQUAVETPLAN sets out the preferred to approach to diseases that affect aquatic animals, including finfish, crustaceans and molluscs.
The Aquatic Animal Health Program in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry develops and maintains the AQUAVETPLAN manuals.
AQUAVETPLAN is available on the department’s website.
PLANTPLAN is the agreed technical response plan used for emergency plant pest incidents. It provides nationally consistent guidelines for response procedures under the EPPRD, outlining the phases of an incursion, as well as the key roles and responsibilities of industry and government during each phase. It incorporates best practice in emergency plant pest responses, and is updated regularly to incorporate new information or address gaps identified during previous incidents.
PLANTPLAN is an appendix to the EPPRD and is endorsed by all signatories.
Emergency Marine Pest Plan
The Emergency Marine Pest Plan (EMPPlan) has been developed to respond to pest emergencies in Australia’s marine environment.
This plan sets out the roles, responsibilities and actions that must be undertaken when a new pest is detected.
The EMPPlan is consistent with the emergency response model in place for animal and plant emergencies in Australia. It sets out the cost-sharing arrangements for marine eradication programs, and has been agreed between the Australian Government, the states and the Northern Territory.
The decision to activate the EMPPlan is based upon an assessment that the pest concerned is likely to have a significant impact on Australia's marine environment, economy, amenity or human health.
See the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website for more information on EMPPlan
National committees and groups
Consultative committees are coordinating bodies that provide the technical link between the Australian, state and territory governments (responsible for agriculture/biosecurity), and affected industries. Consultative committees are formed in response to specific incidents and involve people with relevant technical expertise. For example, responses to Avian Influenza outbreaks include people who specialise in bird health and/or the disease. Their activities are undertaken in accordance with the relevant Deed/Agreement and response plans as described above. For example, there is an Avian Influenza AUSVETPLAN.
The core membership of a consultative committee includes Chief Veterinary Officers or Chief Plant Health Managers from each of the jurisdictions, representatives from the affected industries (that are signatories to EADRA or the EPPRD), and in the case of an animal disease, the CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness. Animal Health Australia or Plant Health Australia participate as custodians of the respective EADRA or EPPRD.
The committee is chaired by the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer or Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer.
Consultative committees determine whether or not it is technically feasible to eradicate a pest or disease. They then provides a recommendation (including a Response Plan) to the National Management Group.
The consultative committees for sector specific incidents:
- Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP)
- Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases (CCEAD)
- Aquatic Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases (AqCCEAD)
- Consultative Committee on Introduced Marine Pest Emergencies (CCIMPE)
- National Biosecurity Management Consultative Committee (NBMCC).
National Management Group
The National Management Group (NMG) makes decisions on whether or not to support national eradication programs through the cost-sharing arrangements, as set out in EADRA or the EPPRD.
NMG considers the recommendations provided by the relevant consultative committee when making its decisions. It is made up of the Director Generals of Biosecurity from the Australian, state and territory governments responsible for agriculture/biosecurity, and the Chief Executive Officer from affected industry organisations. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Animal Health Australia or Plant Health Australia are observers.
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. The core network consists of communication managers from the Australian, state and territory governments (responsible for agriculture/biosecurity), Plant Health Australia, Animal Health Australia, CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, and the Australian Government Department of Health. Wildlife Health Australia, Invasive Species Council, the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, and the Australian Local Government Association are observers.
The network allows for rapid and consistent dissemination of public information that people need to respond to a pest or disease incursion. Audiences include affected producers/growers and their local communities, transport operators, trading partners, the general public, media, and stakeholders such as exporters and associated supply chains.
The National Biosecurity Response Team
The National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT) is a group of trained and experienced people who can be deployed to assist other states and territories during a major biosecurity incident. The team is made up of personnel from the Australian Government, and state and territory agencies responsible for agriculture/biosecurity. Team members have skills and the expertise required to respond to any type of biosecurity incident. They can fill positions in a State Coordination Centre or Local Control Centre – as described in the Biosecurity Incident Management System.
The NBRT also includes a mentor cohort which can assist in establishing response arrangements, and mentor less experienced response personnel.
The NBRT is a joint initiative of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Animal Health Australia, and Plant Health Australia.