Emergency plant pest training is offered by Plant Health Australia.
Government and industry, including growers, horticulturalists, and beekeepers will benefit. Training is a mix of face-to-face, online, and simulated exercises.
Report any new organisms or plant diseases that you discover. You must report this to us before you publish your findings.
Emergency animal disease response training is offered by Animal Health Australia. This training helps members prepare to respond to an emergency animal disease outbreak.
Foot-and-mouth disease training courses are offered by the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD). These are useful for vets and others who work in government veterinary services. They will teach you how to:
- identify signs of the disease
- manage risks in the lab
- plan, conduct and evaluate simulation exercises.
The EuFMD also provides training on other animal diseases.
What to do if you suspect an exotic animal disease outbreak. Report any concerns you have. There are important steps you must take after you report.
Public information role
This training video is for people who may perform a government communication role during an outbreak.
The video explains:
- the role of the public information function in an Incident Management Team
- national response arrangements, processes and tools in place to manage an incident.
Hi, you’re probably watching this video because you’ll be helping us respond to a biosecurity incident.
This video has been tailored to those who will be working in communications, or what’s referred to as the Public Information function.
Before we start, let’s look at what a biosecurity incident is.
A biosecurity incident is a response to a pest, disease or weed that can impact the health of our animals, plants, and the environment. Some pests and diseases can also threaten human health.
In most biosecurity responses, the pest, disease or weed is exotic, which means it hasn’t been found in Australia before, or hasn’t established here.
Their presence can have far reaching economic and social consequences, including reduced farm production, a loss of access to domestic and international markets, and impacts to tourism.
You are most likely to be deployed to a Local Control Centre or State Coordination Centre. There are also occasions when a National Coordination Centre is set up in Canberra.
A local control centre is generally set up in the region with infected properties, or properties with suspect cases. A Forward Command Post is sometimes set up in a more localised area.
A State Coordination Centre will be established in the department’s head office. For example, in Queensland, the State Coordination Centre is set up in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Brisbane.
Wherever you are located, each control centre has an Incident Management Team in place. The IMT is made of up five teams, otherwise referred to as a ‘functions’. These are:
- Public Information
- Logistics, and
- Finance and Administration.
All of these functions report to the Incident Controller.
The Planning function is responsible for technical analysis, response and resource planning, situation assessment, legal, information systems, and mapping.
The Operations function is responsible for investigations and surveillance, movement restrictions, and field operations including the work carried out on infected premises.
The Logistics function keeps things running. It handles broad range of activities, including sourcing IT equipment, phones, vehicles, catering, and organising travel and accommodation for those involved in the response.
The Finance and Administration function largely involves the administration side on the response including procurement, records management and financial management.
You will be working in the Public Information function. This team is responsible for:
- liaising with the media, and working with the nominated spokespeople for the response
- managing the agency’s social media channels and website
- establishing and managing a call centre
- developing collateral, including fact sheets, signage, and advertising materials; and
- face-to-face engagement with the community and stakeholders.
The team also looks after internal communications specific to the incident. This is about keeping people in the department, not directly involved in the response, across what is happening with the incident.
Before you start in your role, you will be given an induction into the control centre, and you should receive a handover if you are not the first person to occupy the role.
Also check with the Public Information manager about other specific requirements like approval processes, the use of national talking points, and any policies around the use of social media channels.
If you haven’t been provided with a copy of the Biosecurity Incident Public Information Manual, ask the Public Information Manager for a copy.
This manual, known as the BIPIM, is a national guide to how public information is managed in a biosecurity incident.
The BIPIM is made up of four parts.
Part 1 provides an overview of the Public Information function, and Part 2 provides more detail on the activities this function is responsible for.
Part 3 is quite important – it consists of job cards for each role you may perform.
Part 4 of the BIPIM is a series of templates and forms that will help you do your job. For example, there’s a template for writing talking points, a call centre script, or developing a communication strategy.
The response arrangements for biosecurity incidents are quite complex. While we don’t want to overload you with too much information, there are a few other things you need to be aware of.
The first is a Consultative Committee. A consultative committee is stood up in response to a specific incident and is made up of people with technical expertise from each jurisdiction. These are usually the Chief Veterinary Officers or Chief Plant Protection Officers from each state and territory. The committee also consists of representatives from industry groups that are impacted by the pest or disease.
The consultative committee provides technical advice on how to respond to the pest or disease, and is responsible for developing a Response Plan.
This committee then makes recommendations to the National Management Group, about whether or not the pest or disease can be eradicated. The NMG looks at the response plan provided by the consultative committee and either agrees or disagrees to support it.
The NMG is made up of the biosecurity director generals in each of the states and territories, and the presidents or CEOs of the affected industry groups. Their decisions to support a response are guided by the national cost-sharing arrangements.
These arrangements are described in either the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed, the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement or the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement.
Moving back to Public Information, the National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network is responsible for coordinating the public information response at a national level.
This group consists of the Public Information Manager from each state and territory, the Australian Government, as well as industry groups affected by the particular incident.
They develop a set of key messages that are delivered to farmers, the media and the public so all stakeholders are receiving the same information, Australia-wide.
This communication network also attends the meetings of the consultative committees and NMG that I mentioned earlier.
Moving back into the on-the-ground activities - the people responsible for operations are guided by a set of technical manuals. For animal diseases this is AUSVETPLAN, and for emergency plant pests, it’s PLANTPLAN.
These set out the nationally agreed approach on how to contain, control and eradicate the pest or disease.
Thank you for watching this video and we hope you now feel a little more confident about filling a role in our Public Information team. We trust it will be a good experience and we appreciate your help to respond to this and future incidents.
Information about current national eradication programs, and how we respond to pest and disease incidents, is at outbreak.gov.au.