Australia is the lucky country in so many ways – not least of which is the island status that has protected us from many of the pests and diseases that could spell economic disaster should they ever reach our shores.
The other side of the coin is that our vast coastline, multiple points of entry for international arrivals and tourism appeal mean the price for our good fortune is constant vigilance. And once again how lucky we are to have the people and agencies on the ground constantly monitoring who – and what – crosses our borders, and devising better strategies, technologies and processes to help keep our nation safe.
I was fortunate to receive an invitation to the inaugural Australian Biosecurity Symposium earlier this month in Queensland, where I had the opportunity to see first-hand the passion and expertise that drives the people charged with Australia’s biosecurity responsibilities and hear about the new ideas and innovative solutions making the system more robust and responsive.
I was part of a panel that looked at how to get the biosecurity message out to the greatest effect and to the widest audience in the digital era. Social media and the 24/7 news cycle have changed the way information is delivered, so as well as the mission to combat biosecurity risks, advocates are also grappling with the most efficient and effective ways of raising community awareness and relaying information. However, it’s important to note that traditional media is still one of the most powerful tools to reach farmers and a wide audience.
Prevention was a big focus of this session – and indeed of the whole conference – with the over-arching message that ‘biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility’. Landholders and producers are obviously on the frontline when it comes to addressing and reducing the risk of a biosecurity incident, but we, as a community, can – and should – play a part in highlighting and reducing potential threats.
The reporting of a plant or insect you haven’t seen before; making a call about unusual boating or aircraft activity along our coastline; and even being aware of purchases during an overseas holiday that could carry hidden risks – these are simple things we can all do to play our part in Australia’s biosecurity battle.
Because any breach could do untold damage to not only our billion-dollar agriculture industry, but other sectors, like tourism, that our economy relies so heavily upon, with a flow-on effect to every part of the community. We will all pay a price, so it pays now to be aware – and be vigilant – in order to maintain the clean reputation that’s the envy of the world.
By Robbie Sefton
This article was published in The Land newspaper on 29th June 2019. Link to the article can be found here – https://www.theland.com.au/story/6244414/a-biosecurity-breach-could-do-untold-damage-to-our-industry/