From July, a new initiative called the National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT) will provide a national pool of government personnel who are fully trained and prepared to act in biosecurity emergency responses.

The NBRT program builds on the training normally provided by state and territory governments with a range of professional development activities and opportunities to practice response skills.

Staff will be available to fill key roles in biosecurity responses, and experienced mentors will guide less experienced staff from the lead agency.

A similar program has been in operation in the animal sector for some time (the Rapid Response Team). The NBRT replaces this program and now also covers the plant, animal, aquatic and environmental sectors.

The funding for this program, which has been doubled to more than half a million dollars a year, comes from the Australian Government and all state and territory governments.

In Australia, plant production industries and governments work together on eradication programs for new serious plant pests.

Vinehealth Australia supports this government initiative, which ensures that if a new serious pest of vines is detected in Australia there is a national pool of appropriately trained people available from the government to take part in the response.

“However, there is also a clear need for our industry to improve the training of key people to work alongside government personnel to assist in the event of an exotic pest incursion,” said Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Pearce.

“This will facilitate an effective response to minimise the impact on grape and wine assets.”

This need is addressed in Vinehealth’s strategic and operational plans and will be actioned in conjunction with Australian Vignerons, Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and other grape and wine industry bodies and committees. An update on this work will be provided later in 2017.