Outbreaks of exotic pests and diseases pose a risk to our industries, environment and way of life.

Our response to these outbreaks must be fast, effective, and coordinated across government and industry.

What triggers a national response

A national response is triggered when an exotic pest or disease is detected in Australia. Exotic means it is not established in Australia.

We do not publish information on pests or diseases that are established (endemic). You’ll find this, and information on weeds, on your state or territory government website.

Our approach

National response arrangements are based on an 'all hazards, all agencies' approach. They apply across pests, diseases and weeds that impact:

  • animal health, including aquatic animals
  • all plants, including grains, horticulture, nuts and forestry
  • the environment, including marine.

An outbreak is also known as an incursion (as the pest or disease has come in from overseas) or a biosecurity incident.

The Biosecurity Incident Management System (BIMS)

BIMS guides biosecurity responses and initial recovery operations. It works with and complements the state or territory and industry response.

BIMS is similar to the approach used by other Australian emergency response service agencies. It’s flexible, scalable and uses common terms.

BIMS structure

The Biosecurity Incident Management System consists of six sections and a supporting liaison section. All sections work under direction of the Incident Management section. The liaison section consists of: Support agencies, Industry, and Other. The other five sections are Public Information, Planning, Operations, Logistics, Finance and Administration.
Diagram of the Biosecurity Incident Management System

Incident management team

When a pest or disease outbreak occurs, governments establish one or more Incident Management Teams (IMTs).

An IMT brings together skilled people to manage the response. The team is structured in line with the BIMS structure. An IMT can be set up in a National Coordination Centre, State Coordination Centre or Local Control Centre. Each centre operates consistently across Australia.

Each IMT consists of these core functions:

  • public information (communication)
  • planning
  • operations
  • logistics
  • finance and administration.

National Coordination Centre (NCC)

The NCC supports a consistent approach to biosecurity incidents. Especially if the pest or disease impacts more than one jurisdiction. The NCC is established by the Australian Government in Canberra.

The NCC works with the states, territories, other Australian Government agencies and industry. The NCC:

  • supports the consultative committees, the National Management Group (NMG), and the National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network (NBCEN)
  • safeguards the international border (travellers, mail and cargo)
  • maintains and negotiates trade relations and market access (exports)
  • coordinates national and international deployment (providing skilled people) to support the response.

State Coordination Centre (SCC)

Each state or territory runs their own SCC. 

An SCC manages these activities for their jurisdiction:

  • strategic planning and coordination
  • industry involvement
  • communication and engagement activities.

Local Control Centre (LCC)

An LCC conducts field operations in a defined area. For example, in a disease control area.

Jurisdictions may set up forward command posts (FCPs). FCPs are like an LCC but in a smaller area, such as close to an infected premises.

Deeds and agreements

Response deeds and agreements are legal contracts between governments and industry.

The contracts outline funding and cost-sharing arrangements so a response can happen quickly. All parties commit to a national response. Industry is also obligated to reduce the risk of a biosecurity incident.

Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA)

The EADRA is an agreement between:

  • the Australian Government
  • state and territory governments
  • Animal Health Australia
  • industry groups.

EADRA applies to terrestrial animals (livestock) and poultry.

Animal Health Australia is the custodian of EADRA.

See more on EADRA

Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD)

The EPPRD is an agreement between the:

  • Australian Government
  • state and territory governments
  • Plant Health Australia
  • national plant industry bodies.

The EPPRD ensures a timely, effective and efficient response to plant pest incursions. It also provides for owner reimbursement of costs to eligible affected growers.

Plant Health Australia is the custodian of the EPPRD.

See more on the EPPRD

National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA)

The NEBRA is an agreement between the Australian, state and territory governments.

NEBRA covers biosecurity incidents that impact:

  • the environment
  • social amenity.

These can include pests such as invasive ants and animals. NEBRA sits under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity, and is managed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

See more on NEBRA

Response plans

Response plans set out the preferred approach to pest and disease incursions. They are a series of manuals that set out best practice strategies and policies. These plans are agreed to by governments and industry groups.

Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN)

AUSVETPLAN contains disease strategies and response policies for emergency animal diseases affecting terrestrial animals (livestock) and poultry. It also provides nationally consistent guidelines for response procedures under the EADRA.

Animal Health Australia manages AUSVETPLAN.

See more on AUSVETPLAN

Australian Aquatic Veterinary Emergency Plan (AQUAVETPLAN)

AQUAVETPLAN covers aquatic animal biosecurity disease incidents. Aquatic animals include finfish, crustaceans and molluscs.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry develops and maintains the AQUAVETPLAN manuals.


Australian Plant Pest Response Plan (PLANTPLAN)

PLANTPLAN covers emergency plant pest disease incidents. It provides nationally consistent guidelines for response procedures under the EPPRD.

PLANTPLAN incorporates best practice in emergency plant pest responses. It’s an appendix to the EPPRD and is endorsed by all signatories.

Plant Health Australia manages PLANTPLAN

See more on PLANTPLAN

Emergency Marine Pest Plan

The Emergency Marine Pest Plan (EMPPlan) is for invasive marine pest emergencies.

EMPPlan aligns with the emergency response model for animal and plant emergencies.

It targets pests that are likely to impact Australia’s:

  • marine environment
  • economy
  • social amenity
  • human health.

See more on EMPPlan

National committees and groups

Consultative committees

Consultative committees provide the technical expertise and coordinate response activities.

Committees are formed in response to specific incidents. They recommend if it’s technically feasible and cost beneficial to eradicate the pest, disease or weed. The committee develops a Response Plan to be endorsed by the National Management Group.

Core members include:

  • Chief Veterinary Officers or Chief Plant Health Managers from each jurisdiction
  • affected industries that are signatories to EADRA or the EPPRD
  • CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (for animal diseases)
  • Animal Health Australia or Plant Health Australia.

These committees are chaired by the:

  • Australian Chief Veterinary Officer (animal including aquatic)
  • Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer (plant)
  • Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer (environmental including marine).

Active committees

National Management Group (NMG) and National Biosecurity Management Group (NBMG)

The NMG and NMBG endorses the specific pest or disease Response Plan from the consultative committee. They decide on funding in line with the cost-sharing arrangements set out in EADRA, the EPPRD or under NEBRA

Members are:

  • Director Generals of Biosecurity from the Australian, state and territory governments
  • Chief Executive Officer from affected industry organisations
  • Plant Health Australia (observer)
  • Animal Health Australia (observer).

The chair is the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network (NBCEN)

During an incident, NBCEN’s role is to develop and deliver nationally consistent public information. They do this through a range of channels and engagement activities.

Their audience includes:

  • producers/growers and their local communities
  • transport operators
  • trading partners
  • supply chains
  • the media.

NBCEN consists of communication experts from:

  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • state and territory governments
  • other organisations that support a response to biosecurity incidents.

See more on NBCEN

National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT)

The NBRT helps states and territories during a biosecurity response.

The team has skills and expertise to respond to any type of biosecurity incident.

NBRT members are from the Australian, state and territory governments. They fill IMT positions in state coordination and local control centres.

A mentor cohort helps to guide and advise less experienced members.

NBRT is a joint initiative of:

  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Animal Health Australia
  • Plant Health Australia.

See more on NBRT