Community involvement in plant biosecurity

Biosecurity engagement: Proposed national action plan for community involvement in plant biosecurity (Consultation Summary Report).

Author: Heleen Kruger

An independent review of Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity arrangements for the Australian Government (Beale et al. 2008), stresses that biosecurity is a responsibility shared between government, industry and the community. This raises the question of how the broader post-border community could play a more active role in addressing biosecurity issues and how best to gain their interest and support for biosecurity-related practices and activities.

The basis of this report is the outcomes of four futures workshops involving a wide range of stakeholders. The purpose of the workshops was to identify options for investing scarce resources and to improve strategic planning in the area of community engagement for biosecurity. It involved ‘blue sky’ thinking; that is, to creatively generate ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs.

During the futures workshops, participants discussed strengthening biosecurity engagement from a national perspective in order to inform a proposed national action plan for plant biosecurity engagement. Participants identified things like barriers and enablers, strategies, the required capabilities and leverage points that need to be considered in this context.

This report contains the outcomes of a research project conducted by ABARES used to inform development of the National Biosecurity Engagement and Communication Framework.

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A vision for biosecurity engagement

Workshop participants identified a number of visions for biosecurity engagement by 2020. The key themes that emerged included:

  • Australians understanding that biosecurity is a shared responsibility (that is,‘knowing that as the general public we have a responsibility too’)
  • biosecurity means looking after Australia’s biodiversity, economy and food security
  • Australians having a shared understanding of their responsibilities relating to biosecurity (that is, ‘as the general public we know what we can do to support biosecurity’).

The eight biosecurity engagement pillars

At a most basic level the workshop outcomes highlighted three cornerstones for effective biosecurity engagement—a motivated community, a resourced community and an enabling environment. Within those cornerstones, a number of key themes—or ‘strategic pillars’—necessary to support a national biosecurity engagement approach emerged.

A motivated community

Pillar 1: Raising the profile of biosecurity—because Australians don’t appreciate the value of biosecurity.

Pillar 2: Engaging effectively—the need to carefully consider with whom to engage, understand stakeholders, carefully consider messages, and use appropriate tools and mechanisms for each group.

A resourced community

Pillar 3: Finding and optimising resources—the need for resources to support effective biosecurity engagement should not be underestimated. Resources could come from a range of sources and there are various ways to make more effective use of resources. Biosecurity engagement officers need to be supported through training and other professional development options. Engaging the community for surveillance could extend biosecurity resources.

Pillar 4: Making the most of technology—technology, especially internet-based, offers opportunities for biosecurity engagement. It needs to be accessible, cost-effective, user-friendly, flexible and well promoted. Scientific quality control is important.

Pillar 5: Capitalising on existing information—the need for national coordination of information, strengthening networks and linkages between stakeholders and effective communication about new and emerging pests.

An enabling environment

Pillar 6: Monitoring engagement progress—meaningful monitoring enables adaptive program management. Biosecurity engagement programs can learn from each other if the lessons learned (in terms of principles) from the successes and failures of programs are widely communicated.

Pillar 7: Enabling sound governance—the need for a more integrated approach to biosecurity, better definition of roles and responsibilities and strengthening biosecurity on the political agenda.

Pillar 8: Building and maintaining scientific capability—the need to strengthen scientific expertise, biosecurity-related research, and identification and communication of key risks and pathways.

Key ideas for action

The key ideas for action suggested in this document are:

  • launching an awareness initiative to raise the profile of biosecurity among the general Australian public, which will require a business case for biosecurity that could be developed by consolidating existing information on the impact of pests, weeds and diseases
  • conducting a social network analysis involving organisations carrying out biosecurity engagement activities, community groups involved in biosecurity activities, and developers of technology that could be used to support biosecurity engagement to better understand
    • how biosecurity engagement projects are currently resourced and how resourcing could be improved
    • gaps and opportunities in information flow between different groups
    • allocation and definition of roles and responsibilities relating to biosecurity engagement
  • developing and implementing key performance indicators for biosecurity engagement projects
  • strengthening engagement with schools, retirees and the media
  • strengthening resourcing of biosecurity engagement projects by:
    • investigating the merits of nationally coordinating volunteers and other community efforts for biosecurity, including looking at different models
    • developing professional development opportunities for biosecurity engagement staff
    • investigating the opportunities for commercial and international sponsorship including community engagement as a key adoption tool as part of the ‘biosecurity’ priority under the Australian Rural Research and Development Priorities
  • making better use of technology by learning from the successes and failures of current relevant technologies, and narrowing the gap between technology developers and users
  • capitalising on existing information by ensuring current web-based engagement tools, such as the Australian Biosecurity Information Network (ABIN), are widely promoted through awareness initiatives and training opportunities, including for smaller community and industry groups
  • strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of biosecurity engagement, both at program and national level.

Download the full report

Resources

Biosecurity engagement guidelines: Principles and practical advice for involving communities

Authors: Heleen Kruger, Nyree Stenekes, Rachel Clarke and Anna Carr

This document provides principles and practical advice for effective biosecurity engagement. It was developed as part of the Engaging in Biosecurity project. The project team identified principles that work and do not work for community engagement in a biosecurity context by profiling six existing biosecurity engagement programs, conducting four biosecurity engagement trials and reviewing recent literature.

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Biosecurity engagement guidelines: Principles and practical advice for involving communities PDF 663.5 MB

Biosecurity engagement guidelines: How to develop an engagement strategy including a monitoring and evaluation component

Author: Heleen Kruger

This document provides a ‘how to guide’ to developing a community engagement strategy for gaining community support to address biosecurity issues. It also includes guidance on developing a monitoring and evaluation component to underpin continual improvement and enable the engagement team to be responsive to new issues and opportunities.

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Biosecurity engagement guidelines: How to develop an engagement strategy including a monitoring and evaluation component PDF 623.5 MB

Involving volunteers in biosecurity programs

Author: Heleen Kruger

This information sheet will guide individuals and organisations considering using volunteers to help control pests, weeds and diseases. It discusses matters to consider when establishing a volunteer group and ways to recruit and retain volunteers.

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Involving volunteers in biosecurity programs PDF 4500 KB

Communicating biosecurity messages in print

Authors: Heleen Kruger and Amber Muirhead

This information sheet has been designed to help you get the best value from producing print materials, such as brochures, reports, manuals, guides and media releases.

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Communicating biosecurity messages in print PDF 2600 KB

A checklist for policy-makers and senior staff in government and industry

This checklist should be read in conjunction with Biosecurity engagement guidelines: Principles and practical advice for involving communities.

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A checklist for policy-makers and senior staff in government and industry PDF 2600 KB

A checklist for investing in engagement programs

This checklist should be read in conjunction with Biosecurity engagement guidelines: Principles and practical advice for involving communities and Biosecurity engagement guidelines: how to develop an engagement strategy including a monitoring and evaluation component.

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A checklist for investing in engagement programs PDF 2600 KB

Achieving effective community engagement about biosecurity. A checklist for engagement practitioners

This checklist should be read in conjunction with Biosecurity engagement guidelines: Principles and practical advice for involving communities and Biosecurity engagement guidelines: how to develop an engagement strategy including a monitoring and evaluation component.

Download the checklist

DocumentPagesFile size
Achieving effective community engagement about biosecurity. A checklist for engagement practitioners PDF 2600 KB
Last reviewed:
15 Feb 2018