Biosecurity Council stakeholder engagement report 2015

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The Biosecurity Council of Western Australia undertook a two-stage stakeholder engagement process in 2014 to elicit perceptions about biosecurity roles and responsibilities, and the principles that underpin them.

For full findings, refer to the report in the documents secion on the right hand side of this page.


The first stage of the stakeholder engagement process involved discussions with key organisations across industry, government and community, followed by an online questionnaire that was completed by 290 people from across industry, government and community.

The process enabled a compelling picture of stakeholder perceptions of the delivery of biosecurity activity within Western Australia, and how industry, government and communities fit within this system.


Biosecurity was confirmed as an important facet of the Western Australian economy, environment and society. Of particular note was the high level of importance the stakeholders placed on environmental outcomes, alongside economic outcomes. The research highlighted the need for all citizens to be engaged in biosecurity to maximise the effectiveness of the state’s biosecurity system. Furthermore, it was acknowledged that costs should be shared. In short, biosecurity as a shared responsibility was the underpinning principle that emerged.

Based on the data, the broad roles and responsibilities were identified as follows:

  • Everyone has a responsibility to build their understanding and knowledge about biosecurity, report biosecurity issues, and undertake the necessary measures to prevent the introduction and spread of pests, weeds and diseases.
  • Industry is responsible for managing their biosecurity risks, engaging with government, raising awareness of biosecurity and investing in industry-wide biosecurity activities.
  • Government has a broader role as communicators, educators, facilitators, coordinators, assessors, protectors. This includes participating in communication and education activities; working with industry and community on surveillance, eradication and control activities; undertaking critical risk assessments and analyses; and implementing preventative measures and emergency responses.

Not-for-profit, research and community organisations were also seen to play an important role through funding and human resources, the delivery of biosecurity-related research and on-ground programs, fundraising, communications and awareness-raising activities.

The work identified six key areas as integral to a robust biosecurity system:

  • Collaboration, cooperation and communication between key organisations or individuals with a strong stake in the issue to ensure support, understanding and ownership, increase efficiencies and build stronger relationships and networks.
  • Broad engagement, education and awareness-raising to develop and maintain widespread support for the state’s biosecurity.
  • Prioritising areas for investment using justifiable risk management and science-based processes to provide the greatest return on investment (economic, environmental and/or social), and to facilitate acceptance of decisions.
  • Robust, but practical, legislation that is enforced to ensure the integrity of the system is maintained.
  • Adequate levels of preparedness to ensure Western Australia is always ready to tackle biosecurity threats.
  • Research, innovation and continuous improvement to enable a flexible biosecurity system that can adjust to changing circumstances.

In addition to the above, adequate government resourcing for biosecurity activity was identified as a top need to maintain or improve Western Australia’s biosecurity. Declining government resourcing for biosecurity has stimulated the need to target government investment toward priority areas. In turn, this has increased the focus on collaborative partnerships with industry and community in order to ensure the key components of the state’s biosecurity system are preserved.

Successful partnerships require clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and the findings presented here can provide a strong foundation for further exploration of this. Given the current environment, there is a clear need for transparent and consistent processes for determining who should invest resources where, as well as a need to clearly justify these decisions. Such decisions should be made collaboratively, and should emphasise the areas that provide the greatest return on investment (social, economic and environmental returns).

The Biosecurity Council of Western Australia are grateful to the stakeholders that participated in the discussions and online questionnaire.