Northern Australia’s vast, sparsely populated 10,000 kilometre coastline is the frontline for many high-risk animal and plant pests and diseases, particularly Torres Strait, whose northern islands are only a few kilometres from Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Biosecurity risks can reach Australia through the movement of people and goods by sea and air, through traditional trade between PNG and Torres Strait, and by natural pathways such as wind, tide and animal migration. Some serious pests and diseases are being managed in Torres Strait that have not reached the Australian mainland.
Investing in stronger, smarter biosecurity responses
In recognition of the heightened need for an integrated biosecurity response, recent Australian Government investments have focused on strengthening biosecurity surveillance and analysis, designing, implementing and promoting collaborative biosecurity surveillance capability, practices and technologies.
Across northern Australia the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department), through the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy framework, has worked to:
- expand the Indigenous Rangers network
- increase aquatic, marine, plant and animal biosecurity surveillance
- improve data management systems and data sharing
- increase and improve diagnostic services, skills and facilities
- engage communities to raise biosecurity awareness and to support biosecurity work being conducted by stakeholders and partners.
Biosecurity is every Australian’s business. The department is working more closely than ever with landholders, state and territory governments, industry organisations, rangers and communities across northern Australia to strengthen biosecurity systems and protect our agricultural industries, environment and way of life.
The Northern Australia Biosecurity Framework Reference Group, established in March 2016, includes senior representatives of all northern jurisdictions, Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia. The group provides strategic advice and support for a collaborative, integrated and strategic approach to managing biosecurity in northern Australia.