Exotic pests and diseases are a threat to Australia's agriculture, environment and economy.
Consistent and up-to-date public communication is crucial during an outbreak. It can help control and eradicate a pest or disease incursion. Past emergencies here and overseas have shown this. These include the equine influenza outbreak in Australia in 2007 and the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001.
How we work with you
We work with the media to help the community respond to biosecurity incidents.
A Public Information Manager may be able to help get images and footage for you to report. Depending on the risk, they can seek permission for one media crew to access an affected property. The images can be shared with other media outlets.
Access to affected properties
Media and unauthorised people must not enter quarantined premises.
To do so will threaten containment, control and eradication efforts. It can place the community and affected industries at risk. Any unlawful entry into a property will be referred to local police.
Pests and diseases can be carried on your person or items. This includes:
cameras and tripods
Strict biosecurity measures are in place when you enter and leave infected premises. This includes cleaning and disinfecting people and items. Be aware that this process could damage camera and audio equipment.
Messages for the public
At the start of a biosecurity incident, there are urgent messages the public needs to know.
Do not enter infected or at-risk properties.
Biosecurity and hygiene measures are always critical. Check Farmbiosecurity.com.au for advice.
If you see signs of pest or disease, report it. Call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888 or the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
Know what's happening in your area. Check Outbreak.gov.au for the latest updates.
Do not assume the source
Do not assume that the first property owner to report a pest or disease is the original source of the outbreak. Use caution when reporting on an incident. Do not implicate a person or business. This can deter people from reporting further cases.
The person who reports a pest or disease enables the authorities to respond quickly. Their actions may save many animals’ lives and peoples’ livelihoods.
Biosecurity incident response arrangements
When an exotic pest or disease is found, the state or territory government will:
- quarantine the affected premises
- apply movement restrictions in the form of Restricted and Control Areas
- undertake secure laboratory tests to confirm the pest or disease
- determine and limit the spread of the pest or disease
- carry out destruction, disposal and decontamination procedures.
Who is involved
Where a pest or disease is contained within a jurisdiction, it’s known as the ‘combat’ state or territory. The combat state or territory leads the incident response. Response activities are coordinated through a State Coordination Centre (SCC). A Local Control Centre (LCC) may be established in an affected region.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will lead a national response. This happens when a pest or disease is likely to occur in more than one jurisdiction or where there are significant international trade issues arise. These response activities are coordinated through the National Coordination Centre (NCC) in Canberra.
Nationally agreed biosecurity incident plans and procedures are in place. This ensures a consistent response across Australia. These plans and procedures are used for plant, animal and environmental biosecurity incidents. Most biosecurity incidents that occur in Australia affect plants.
Quarantine zones and restrictions
Quarantine zones and movement restrictions help to contain a pest or disease. The zones are enforceable by law.
Individual properties, localities and regions will be identified as particular areas or zones. These are temporary classifications to be used as needed.
Infected Premises (IP)
A property where a pest or disease has been identified and confirmed. This property is quarantined, and access is restricted to authorised biosecurity personnel. They have specific roles to control the incident. They will undertake the necessary biosecurity procedures before entering and leaving the property.
Suspect Premises (SP)
A property that contains susceptible plant(s) or animal(s) not known to have been exposed. They show clinical signs and must be investigated.
Trace Premises (TP)
A property that contains a susceptible plant(s) or animal(s) that tracing indicates may have been exposed. Or the premises contains contaminated plant or animal products or waste. It must be investigated.
Restricted Area (RA)
A larger area around an IP. It typically includes all properties within a 10 km radius and is secured by roadblocks or check points. Do not enter the RA unless you have a legitimate need. Media personnel do not need approval from authorities to enter. You will be asked to stop at a check point to get updates on movement restrictions.
Control Area (CA)
Normally a large area in the first few days of an outbreak. Movement restrictions within the CA apply to animals, but not people. Vehicles may be stopped at check points to check for anything that might spread the pest or disease.
Restricted airspace (RA)
You must not use helicopters or drones to film infected properties. Low flying aircraft will scare and scatter livestock. This would hamper disease containment. Some diseases (including plant diseases) are airborne and can be spread easily by the wind or air disturbance.
Consideration during times of loss
During an outbreak, animals or crops may be destroyed for disease control purposes. Livelihoods may be at risk and people may experience considerable distress.
We ask that the media respect the wishes of the affected people who may want privacy.
An outbreak can be a stressful time for many people. These services may be useful to share:
- Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
- beyondblue 1300 22 46 36
- Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78
- Kids Help Line 1800 55 18 00
- Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467
Find the right mental health resource for you via headtohealth.gov.au.
Who to contact
Contact the state or territory government authority leading the response. They will have a media team that can help you with your media inquiries.
Outbreak.gov.au will have the latest updates. This includes details of the lead authority in the combat state or territory.