As part of the wine sector’s efforts to be better prepared for an exotic pest or disease outbreak, Australian Grape & Wine (AGW), as signatories to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD), has recruited volunteers from the industry willing to be deployed as Industry Liaison Officers (ILOs) in the event of an exotic outbreak.
Across three separate days, the wine ILOs recently came together online as part of an exercise run by Wine Australia under the Xylella Preparedness Program to look at the core issues and tasks they will face in an outbreak.
“The focus was on learning more about the strategies that Control Centres use to identify potential impacts and the longer-term consequences for the wine sector and local communities. We also looked at the operation of the Control Centre, development of key messages and the recovery planning process,” said Craig Elliott from Wine Australia, who ran the exercise with AGW’s Anna Hooper.
ILOs perform a critical role during an exotic outbreak, working with the government-run Control Centres and acting as a reference point for advice, and as a link between the local wine sector and the Control Centre.
In South Australia, the wine industry is fortunate to also have Vinehealth Australia to provide strategic support to industry and government in managing not only an exotic outbreak, but also outbreaks of regulated pests, such as phylloxera and fruit fly.
“In addition to providing their knowledge about the local area and intricacies of how the wine sector operates to response planners, ILOs also check that the right information is getting out to the right people and that the impact of the outbreak and response operations is understood and being managed,” Craig said.
Lessons learnt by other sectors was also included in the exercise, with presentations on recent outbreaks affecting the citrus and banana sectors from Jessica Arnold from Plant Health Australia and Dr Rosie Godwin from the Australian Banana Growers’ Council.
Anna said more Wine ILO sessions would be run in 2022 with the hope that a face-to-face exercise could be delivered in the future.
“We are fortunate to have such a skilled group of people to have successfully nominated as ILOs. If we were to suffer a serious pest or disease incursion, these roles are crucial in ensuring that the response operations do not place undue burden on industry and that government decision making is well informed,” Anna said.
If you want to learn more about the Wine ILO role, or are interested becoming an ILO, contact Anna Hooper at AGW via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.