News & Media

Department builds emergency animal disease response capacity

Released on

Released on:
Wednesday, 9. January 2013 - 12:00

The Department of Agriculture and Food is strengthening its capacity to respond to an emergency animal disease outbreak with the appointment of eight employees to the national Rapid Response Team (RRT).

Animal Health Australia manages the RRT, except during emergency animal disease response activities when RRT members are deployed by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The RRT consists of 52 people selected by Animal Health Australia from government departments across Australia who train for key management roles they would perform during an emergency animal disease response.

Department livestock biosecurity director Michelle Rodan said such training was crucial to ensure an experienced pool of people were available when a large-scale disease response was needed, such as during a potential foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

“Rapid Response Team members are trained to carry out key functions in planning, logistics, operations, and communications in emergency disease responses,” Dr Rodan said.

“Training includes participation in scenario-based workshops, discussion and functional exercises, coaching and mentoring by more experienced and former RRT members, as well as completing formal accredited courses.

“RRT members find the training invaluable as it brings together personnel from different states, allowing them to share the knowledge and experience gained within their own jurisdictions.

“The most recent exercise was in South Australia in 2012, where the RRT responded to a hypothetical outbreak of bluetongue disease in sheep in a remote area. In 2013, training will include a practical exercise in New South Wales.”

Dr Rodan said RRT members were replaced by new members every three to five years to ensure the number of skilled personnel available continued to increase.

“Former members of the RRT remain on a list maintained by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, so they can be readily contacted for deployment during a response,” she said.

“Former RRT members, who include current department staff, also share their knowledge with new members and provide valuable mentoring and coaching.”

Media contacts: Jodie Thomson               +61 (0)8 9368 3937