What is a recognised biosecurity group?
A Recognised Biosecurity Group (RBG) is a mechanism under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act 2007 (BAM Act) to enable landholders and managers to develop a coordinated approach to control and manage declared pests in their area. A RBG supports and compliments activities that individual landholders and managers are required to do to meet their legal obligations to control declared pests on their land.
A RBG provides an opportunity and basis for shared responsibility and funding in controlling declared pests. It enables communities and industry to partner with others, including state government agencies. RBGs are the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) preferred partnership arrangement for the control of widespread and established declared pests. It provides a framework to foster efficiency through arrangements to make the best use of skills, funds, capacities, incentives and regulations.
Ultimately, a well governed and functioning RBG will take the following steps to self-reliance:
- it will assume responsibility
- it will be well informed
- it will know where it is going (strategic vision)
- it will make its own decisions.
How is an RBG formed?
A biosecurity group that that is formed in an area for the purpose of declared pest control may be recognised under s169 of the BAM Act by the Minister for Agriculture and Food. The Act does not formally detail a process for recognition, however for a prospective RBG to be recognised it must:
- undertake activities consistent with the Act particularly section 138 (a)
- operate at a scale to effectively control declared pests across landscapes
- has the capacity to manage any public funds it receives
- has legitimacy within its community to use funds for the control of declared pests.
A prospective RBG submits an expression of interest to the minister addressing the above points including the group’s consent to be formally recognised. DPIRD’s Director General (or delegate) will advise the minister about prospective RBGs.
A RBG is required to have appropriate governance structures in place and the department encourages groups to be an incorporated association and conduct its affairs according to a constitution. The department has developed an information toolkit to assist on how to set up good governance structures and practices. For more information on the formation and recognition processes please contact your local department biosecurity officer.
How are RBG boundaries set?
For efficient and effective control of widespread and established declared pests (plants and animals), the department prefers that an RBG covers a large area (preferably multiple shires) and be agreeable to managing multiple priority pests. In saying this however group priorities are best determined through engagement and consultation with landholders and relevant stakeholders.
The key reason for recommending larger areas and diverse declared species control interests is to avoid a large number of smaller, single purpose groups forming which could cause long-term partnership arrangements to become less effective. A RBG can be composed of several smaller groups. While this is the department's preference, the group can still determine its extent, priorities and composition.
Smaller-scale RBG for more intensive agricultural areas may be considered. It is best to ensure the scale of a group represents ‘communities of interest’. There needs to be a sense of community cooperation in the intended response to declared pests. Thus boundaries of a RBG are determined through discussions between the biosecurity group seeking recognition from the minister under section 169 of the BAM Act and the department.
Following the receipt of an expression of interest for recognition from the group, the minister will, on the advice of DPIRD, describe the boundary of the RBG (usually based on shire boundaries) in the instrument (a signed document) recognising the group. If there is good reason to do so, the minister may alter the boundaries of the RBG. Boundary alteration would only occur after consultation and discussion with the group seeking recognition and would take into account factors such as operational efficiency and scale required for effective management.
Can a pest be declared for specific areas within a RBG?
It could occur but would generally not be supported. Declaration of a species is considered for all requirements at a state level.
What powers will RBGs have?
Landholders are responsible for controlling declared pests on their land. RBGs add value to the role of landholders, but do not replace the role or responsibility of landholders. RBGs have no direct statutory powers, but through partnership arrangements with the department, they can assist with implementing provisions of the BAM Act.
In implementing their programs RBGs will be required to comply with all relevant legislation e.g. financial and occupational, health and safety.
RBGs are responsible for?
RBGs can have as many responsibilities as they decide, and these must be detailed in their constitutions or governance structures and arrangements.
Funding under the BAM Act, through the Declared Pest Account (DPA - see below), will be provided for declared pest control in the defined area as outlined in the group’s recognition document and their declared pest action plan (pest plan).
BAM Act funded responsibilities may include:
- surveillance and reporting on new and emerging declared pests, and assisting with compliance if necessary
- carrying out operations or engaging contractors to manage declared pests
- promoting best practice pest management to landholders in their area, and developing and working with networks that encourage community involvement in biosecurity
- preparing annual work programs, including operational and budget planning
- conducting preliminary consultation prior to the imposition of rates to fund declared pest control, and
- the management of association affairs including paid support such as executive officers.