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New and emerging industries have a unique opportunity to establish good biosecurity at an integral stage of the development of an industry. This would allow best practices to be established amongst growers early in the life of the industry and benefit the industry as it expands. Yet such industries also have the unique challenge that at this stage of evolution, their limited resources may reduce their ability to undertake biosecurity communication activities.

Research outcomes

The outcomes of this research include the development of a national plant health communications strategy framework and toolkit aimed at enhancing biosecurity awareness and behaviours across Australia’s plant industries.

The communications strategy framework highlights the effective strategies and elements used in previous biosecurity communications campaigns. It then recommends activities that could be adapted for use in future biosecurity communications and campaigns in the plant industry. Some of these recommendations include improved coordination and evaluation of communication activities, efforts to engage ‘gap’ audiences and research to better understand the barriers, drivers and incentives affecting the uptake of biosecurity practices.

The Plant Industry Biosecurity Communications Toolkit has been developed from this report to assist industry organisations plan future communications activities.

Research implications

It is readily apparent that right across the plant sector, and at all levels (from Federal and State Governments to national, state and local industry levels) there is a wide range of communication activities earnestly attempting to address the key issues of firstly raising biosecurity awareness (either reactively or proactively), and secondly, promoting behavioural change by farmers and communities.

However, it is also readily apparent that these activities are not broadly coordinated at the industry and state agency level. This creates an environment where possible duplication, inconsistency and lack of planning can occur in communications/campaign construction, stakeholder engagement and messaging. Also, maximal usage of available resources and materials and learning from previous campaigns is not necessarily undertaken within, among or between industries and agencies.

It is suggested that this scenario can be addressed by a national body actively working with various industries and agencies, and providing agreed tools and resources (the communications framework and toolkit) to streamline and underpin common approaches. Such a body can also play a lead role to address issues to do with gap audiences, leveraging of government resources, and providing consistent high level communications products and biosecurity intelligence.


Marie Bracks-Burns (Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia), Amity Sturwohld (Queensland Primary Fisheries and Fisheries) and Dr Ryan Wilson (Plant Health Australia)


Mr Jim McGrath
Project Leader CRC70036: National Communication Strategy Framework
Phone: 02 6260 4322

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This project aimed to provide greater regional community engagement in plant biosecurity.

What is the biosecurity problem?

The success of industry biosecurity is dependent on the engagement of not only industry representatives but also the entire community. Regional areas of Australia are particularly vulnerable if sectors of the community do not appreciate and engage in plant biosecurity.

The main outputs of this project were to:

  • identify existing biosecurity education and networks in the region
  • analyse stakeholder groups and devise an incursion alert and intervention model
  • identify a process for moving the models into the communities involved
  • run the models possibly as case studies with their own formative participatory evaluation processes, and
  • evaluate the whole project using formative data and provide a summative product that identifies failures, risks and bottlenecks, and documents change.

Who are the end-users of this research?

This project produced a new PhD graduate with skills in community engagement and education in relation to biosecurity issues. The graduate will be immediately employable within the Australian plant biosecurity industry to assist in community awareness and communication. The end-users of this project are the OrdGuard Regional Biosecurity plan and other industry Biosecurity plans. 


Mr Paul Royce
Student CRC60011: OrdGuard Community Engagement - PhD
Phone: 08 8946 6863
Fax: 08 8946 6150

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Associate Professor Karen Gibb and Professor Ian Falk (CDU) and Mr Lachlan Dobson (OrdGuard)
Supervising Institution
Charles Darwin University
February 2006 - January 2009


Delivery and Adoption Program Image


Commercialisation and utilisation.


Realisation by stakeholders of the benefits of the CRCNPB, as the result of adoption of improved knowledge-based systems by government, universities and plant industry organisations, and commercialisation of new technologies through the private sector.

Indicators of success


Engagement with end-users through advisory groups.

High reputation and recognition of the CRCNPB with scientific and government biosecurity community.


Awareness of capacity of the CRCNPB to deliver benefits to industry and as a preferred supplier of biosecurity research in Australia.


End-user utilisation of CRCNPB outputs captured by measurable and definable indicators including, but not limited to the number of:


  • PDAs deployed
  • remote microscope nodes established
  • hits on the Plant Biosecurity Toolbox
  • new diagnostic protocols submitted to SPHDS 
  • on-farm insect management workshops conducted, and
  • schools teaching the Plant Pest Investigators unit.

Practice Change:

Identifiable change in practice as a consequence of CRCNPB outputs including, but not limited to:


  • new risk analysis tools utilised by the horticultural industry to prioritise biosecurity threats
  • new diagnostic protocols being utilised as diagnostic standards
  • new insect and pathogen eradication strategies utilised to reduce the financial and community impact of incursions
  • new stored grain fumigation techniques implemented by bulk handlers
  • new grain grower change management and knowledge transfer strategies deployed, and
  • new fruit fly surveillance techniques implemented by state agencies.


Delivery And Adoption Research Projects

CRC70036: National Communication Strategy FrameworkMr Jim McGrath

New and emerging industries have a unique opportunity to establish good biosecurity at an integral stage of the development of an industry. This would allow best practices to be established more

CRC70085: Personal Digital Assistants (phase two)Assoc Prof Giles Hardy

This project was an extension of an earlier scoping project CRC30014 that developed software to collect more

CRC70096: Grain Knowledge NetworksDr Sharyn Taylor

This project aimed to develop an effective knowledge exchange strategy for the grains industry to improve its phosphine insect resistance management outcomes through identification of the methods more

CRC70100: Optimal Investment in R&D for Plant BiosecurityA/Prof Ben White

The operation of export supply chains for agricultural and horticultural produce depends on compliance with the biosecurity standards set for export markets. This project used a systems based more

CRC70138: An Indigenous community and local knowledge-based model to manage harmful plant pests and diseasesDr David Eagling

This project seeked to proactively manage incursion threats through the development of new Indigenous and local knowledge-based approaches to biosecurity management. This requires drawing together more

CRC70186: Understanding myrtle rust epidemiology and host specificity to determine disease impact in Australia

Myrtle rust (eucalyptus/guava rust) caused by the fungus Puccinia psidii affects plants in the Myrtaceae family, which includes many Australian natives such as eucalypts, paperbark, more


To facilitate the delivery, commercialisation and utilisation of all program outputs to appropriate end-users in a manner that will ensure maximum adoption of new plant biosecurity technologies and skills.