Plant Health Australia (PHA), Agriculture Victoria (AgVic), and industry representatives from AUSVEG and the Australian Table Grapes Association, collaborated to design and deliver Exercise Aggregate: Industry liaison training earlier this month.

This training aimed to enhance AgVic’s comprehension of plant industries’ capacity and capability to support a plant biosecurity response, while also evaluating the effectiveness of their existing structures and process in facilitating support for Industry Liaison Officers (ILOs).

Around 34 participants from 12 industry groups, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Animal Health Australia (AHA), and AgVic attended the exercise at the State Biosecurity Operations Centre at Attwood, Melbourne.

Over the course of two days, participants engaged in a series of purpose-designed activities that mirrored the roles and responsibilities of an ILO, serving to assess both industry’s and AgVic’s capacity while simulating the pressures experienced by personnel working in an emergency response.

A highlight of Exercise Aggregate was the collaborative synergy among participants, leading to enhanced comprehension of the diverse challenges each may face when responding to Emergency Plant Pests (EPP).

Participants demonstrated a wide range of response and incursion knowledge, with feedback from all levels of experience indicating the exercise greatly improved their understanding of the role and responsibility of ILOs. Both industry and AgVic gained an awareness of what further work needs to be done to improve an ILO’s ability to positively influence the success of plant biosecurity responses in Victoria.

Dr Jessica Lye, Citrus Biosecurity Manager at Citrus Australia, has already begun planning their next steps.

“As an industry, we will be continuing to train up industry liaison officers both within and outside Citrus Australia. Having that network of trained industry liaison officers will be really beneficial to make sure that nobody burns out during a response,” she said.

PHA is preparing an exercise report which will document recommendations for improvement and will be available later this year.

For more information on Exercise Aggregate, including how it could be run in other jurisdictions, or other training opportunities in plant biosecurity, please contact [email protected]