While Australia has one of the strongest biosecurity systems globally, outbreaks across human, agriculture, environment and marine health are continuing to rise in volume and complexity. This is due to a range of factors including growing levels of trade and travel, urbanisation, climate change and biodiversity loss.

This report was developed collaboratively through interviews and workshops with 26 organisations across the biosecurity system; including Commonwealth and state governments, research, industry and non-government organisations.

Key findings:

  • Annual interceptions of materials that present a biosecurity risk to Australia have increased by almost 50% in the five years to 2017 to just over 37,000, and the cumulative burden of yet to be eradicated or ineradicable species has also risen considerably in the last decade.
  • To reach the transformational trajectory, relationships need to be established that acknowledge the different values placed on a healthy natural environment by different groups and focus on building trust and exchanging knowledge for the benefit of all Australians. In some instances, Indigenous communities might lead the way, drawing on their established networks and traditional knowledge. In others, modern science and technology could be used to support Indigenous decision-making.
  • Consultations for this project indicated that Australia has a noticeable gap in veterinarians and plant scientists with experience detecting and managing exotic diseases, which may limit the nation’s ability for early detection and rapid response. The gradual erosion of resourcing for the biosecurity system has resulted in fewer training opportunities for a biosecurity workforce and fewer biosecurity-related professional positions around the country. Training biosecurity specialists and optimising the networking of expertise across the system could significantly bolster prevention, preparedness and response capabilities across the system.

While this report aims to provide broad sector direction and recommendations for where key stakeholders may prioritise activities and investments, further collaborative problem-solving and deeper analysis is required.

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