New training module emphasizes rapid reporting of suspicious plant pests

A new online biosecurity training module released by Plant Health Australia (PHA) is improving Australias preparedness for new plant pests, by raising awareness of the reporting requirements in any suspected incursion.

The module, entitled Reporting a suspect Emergency Plant Pest, is part of a series of free online biosecurity modules which aim to train stakeholders in the Australian agricultural, horticultural or forestry industries on their role in a potential Emergency Plant Pest (EPP) incursion.

According to PHA Executive Director and CEO, Greg Fraser, the aim of the online training is to ensure that if an incursion occurs, all affected Parties are familiar with their roles and responsibilities. The new module emphasizes the importance of reporting any suspect pest early and the responsibilities of stakeholders.

Rapid reporting of new detections is vital. he said. The earlier a new pest is reported, the better the chances of successful eradication. Delays in reporting allow the pest to become better established and potentially spread further, meaning that eradication becomes more difficult.

Training on EPP responses is a key part of PHAs role as the coordinator of plant biosecurity in Australia. Greg Fraser explains that Australia is fortunate to have a legally binding agreement between governments and plant industries called the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) that directs what happens during an incursion.

For an effective response to new plant pests, everyone involved must know whats expected of them under the EPPRD. Mr Fraser said. Thats where biosecurity training comes in. It ensures that we are prepared so that any response is swift, standardised and has the best chance of success.

While PHA delivers face-to-face training through the National EPP Training Program, providing modules online improves its accessibility. PHAs Biosecurity Online Training (BOLT) system makes it easy to access key information on biosecurity responses. Mr Fraser said.

The new module builds on the existing Plant Foundation Module which provides general information about key elements of the EPPRD and PLANTPLAN, the operational guide.

Anyone likely to be involved in an EPP response needs to undertake the training but there are also many others who would benefit from taking the courses, according to PHAs Dr Stephen Dibley, Program Manager, Training and Biosecurity Preparedness. Dr Dibley recommends that anyone with an interest or stake in plant biosecurity should take the courses to familiarise themselves with the arrangements.

Weve made it quick and easy to access this trainingits free and the modules can be completed in under an hour. he said. You read through the material at your own pace, learning what happens in the event of an EPP detection and what your role would be. Really, training should be a standard expectation for every stakeholder.

Mr Fraser agrees. The knowledge and skills provided by this training will help improve your biosecurity preparedness and reduce the risk of new pests impacting on Australia's agricultural and horticultural systems. he said.

The course modules are available through the PHA website ( www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/training).