Build capacity to respond to and recover from emergency pest and disease incidents

Page last updated: Thursday, 11 July 2019 - 9:35am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Build capacity to respond and recover from emergency pests and diseases was part of the Boosting Biosecurity Defences program funded by Royalties for Regions and led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
The project introduced new practical measures and enhanced existing capacity to ensure that when industry, the community and DPIRD are challenged by a significant biosecurity emergency we are prepared and capable as an agency, industry and community to respond to the event and recover from its impact.

This project finished in June 2018. However, further funding to continue training staff in emergency procedures and to adapt emegency management training into online training modules have received funding through to 2023.

This project improved Western Australia's (WA) biosecurity response capacity through:

  • Introduction of new technology that has transformed our capacity to respond to emergency incidents.
  • New approaches to training and exercising Industry Liaison Officers and government officers in incident response roles that have transformed our response capacity.
  • Memorandum of Understanding with recovery resources for Local government and other agencies and service providers that ensure response and recovery arrangements are in place.
  • Delivery of a large-scale emergency incident exercise in 2016, including the national Rapid Response Team, that tested preparedness and faster approaches to Foot and Mouth Disease eradication.

The project consisted of eight activities coordinated from the Albany regional office and covers the entire state. These eight activities were:

  1. Emergency management training activity - by June 2018 174 staff will have completed training in line with nationally agreed competencies which meet the expectations of WA legislation and national industry cost sharing agreements.  A further 194 will be in progress at June 2018. About 66% of those trained will have completed a Certificate III in Public Safety- Biosecurity Response Operations, and 34% a Diploma of Public Safety- Biosecurity Response Management. This provides DPIRD with a core of staff who will be able to coordinate and manage an emergency response to minimise the potentially disastrous impact on the economy.
  2. Incident recovery activity - a number of activities were conducted which contribute to increased understanding by local government of the potential risks, impacts and recovery responsibilities in the event of an emergency biosecurity incident.  These activites included a DPIRD presentation on the impact, complexity and cost of managing Foot and Mouth disease outbreak, risk assessment workshops for animal and plant biosecurity and literature reviews resulting in discussion and summary documents.
  3. Web based emergency operations centre (WebEOC) and MAX - two new software programs were introduced to DPIRD that enable interagency support and logistics management as well as tracing and tracking to assist with managing the operational and planning elements of an incursion. Since their introduction in 2015 the software has been used in two incident responses in 217 and 2018. Further development is currently taking place.
  4. Skills enhancement activity - guidelines and policy for the implementation of the skills enhancement program were developed and resources have been provided to support DPIRD staff engaging with real incursions which occur within Australia and additional broader training to create superior skills and performance capability in emergency management. By the end of the project timeframe, DPIRD staff participated in 4 significant biosecurity incursion responses nationally , and 2 training/learning events (Plant biosecurity simulation workshop in Canberra,  and the 8th National Natural Hazards Conference in Perth). 
  5. Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) activity -  the installation of a new laboratory information management system (LIMS) was completed in Jan 2016.  LIMS has full technical integration with CRIS and the new Biosecurity Intelligence Platform; it is aligned with DPIRD Information and Finance systems; and has capacity for some manual integration with MAX.  Workflow training and stakeholder and business process workshops for LIMS users were also delivered by March 2016. LIMS assists with the improved management and tracking of large numbers of field samples which will be a feature of a significant emergency.
  6. Industry Liaison Training Packages activity - A ‘Just in Time’ (JIT) online training course and booklet have been developed for the purpose of supporting the industry liaison and specialist advisor roles for an emergency incident response in WA.  These roles are a key link back to industry and are part of both a state and local control centre and are usually filled by industry representatives. The course has been tested and the final version is due to be published on the DPIRD external website in June 2018.
  7. Destruction and Disposal activity - WA solutions for large scale destruction of poultry and disposal options for livestock biomass have been developed. In early-mid 2017, a series of 5 local government disposal and destruction workshops were delivered in regional locations (Bunbury, Narrogin, Northam, South Perth, Plantagenet). A (draft) State-level disposal plan was initiated, which details pre-agreed arrangements and procedures to manage the disposal of ruminant and pig carcases in the event of an emergency animal disease incident. In addition, a (mock) poultry gassing trial (with no poultry) was delivered in late 2017 to test the capacity of WA to perform large-scale poultry depopulation, and make recommendations for improvement.  Seven agencies/organisations/companies from WA, SA and Victoria were involved in the exercise
  8. Enhanced Exercise Management activity - Exercise APOLLO. DPIRD organised and hosted Exercise APOLLO, over five days in May 2016 in Bunbury with the aim of testing and improving DPIRD’s capacity to lead an emergency biosecurity response (level 3) in WA. Exercise APOLLO was a national emergency response exercise based on a simulated livestock disease outbreak, and built on the work undertaken as part of Exercise ODYSSEUS – the National Livestock Standstill exercise in 2014. Exercise Apollo was a shortlisted finalist in the 2017 Institute of Public Administration Australia WA (IPAA WA) Achievement Awards in the ‘Best practice in collaboration between government and non-government organisations’ category.

For further information relating to emergency pest or disease incidents please see Emergency Response and Livestock Biosecurity.

Contact information

Ronald Master
+61 (0)8 9892 8521


Anna Micha