6 October 2021
Who does this notice affect?
All Customs Brokers, Importers, Biosecurity Industry Participants, and food importers who have premises that departmental officers may attend (for inspections, audits, surveillance or other purposes).
What has changed?
Due to the prevalence of COVID-19 across NSW and Victoria, the department's ability to meet is service standards for inspection bookings in these states will be impacted over the next four to six weeks at a minimum. This is driven by the requirement to test and isolate officers based on exposure at third party premises (TPPs). Delays can be expected.
What is driving this?
The number of TPPs reporting as a COVID exposure site daily (and in some cases on multiple occasions) in these states is increasing. As a result, inspection appointments are constantly having to be cancelled, re-shuffled and rescheduled, often at very short notice. Our inspection resources are also being impacted by isolation requirements.
How is the department responding?
These are all challenging times for all and while we expect these delays to continue for some time, we will monitor the situation and provide further advice if things change.
In the interim, the department continues to implement new initiatives and technologies to streamline the way we work. This includes changes to our IT systems as outlined in Import Industry Advice 211-2021, the phased deployment of the workload management tool to automate the booking process, and implementation of innovative automation into our document assessment processes expected to go live in November. These initiatives have, and will continue into the future, to deliver efficiencies in the biosecurity system including time and cost savings to industry.
The department's focus continues to be on the safety and wellbeing of its workforce, and the industry participants it is physically engaging with, while ensuring the effective delivery of its regulatory functions which cannot be compromised. This includes adhering to public health requirements of the states and territories, and ensuring our officers are vaccinated where this is mandated.
The department is unable to selectively identify inspection officers to satisfy requirements of entry imposed by some TPPs, such as not residing in an area of concern or being fully vaccinated (where public health orders don’t require).
Biosecurity Industry Participants are reminded of their obligations to notify the department if any of their staff (or visitors to their premises) test positive for COVID-19 as per Import Industry Advice Notice 159-2021.
- For further general information about this Import Industry Advice Notice, please contact the department on 1800 900 090.
- If you have been impacted by state government advice and are unable to maintain your scheduled import inspection appointment with the department, please contact us on 1800 900 090 or email the relevant import booking queue to advise of cancellation of the appointment.
- For urgent information relating to this notice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org making sure to include “COVID NOTIFICATION - [STATE/TERRITORY]” in the subject field of the email.
- For further information about this notice or the impact of COVID-19 on imports and biosecurity services more broadly, please contact us on 1800 900 090 or visit our website at Imports and COVID-19.
- For further information regarding enhanced COLS & CWMS functionality, contact the department via general enquiries (selecting the Imports – bringing goods into Australia option) or phone 1800 900 090.