Request for Expressions of Interest: consultants for the provision of training services
AHA is seeking Expressions of Interest from experienced vocational education sector materials designers, editors, developers, trainers and facilitators. Only consultants based in Australia need apply.
AHA wishes to develop a register of vocational education consultants interested and able to assist the company and its members to develop and implement training programs in the fields of animal health, biosecurity, agriculture and biosecurity emergency response.
All submissions must be lodged by 5.00pm Friday 31 January 2014.
For more information and details on lodging an Expression of Interest, visit our Tenders and Recruitment page.
Ralph Hood Award 2013 Winner announced
Dr Simon Firestone, lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Melbourne is the winner of the 2013 Ralph Hood Award, which was presented on 27 November at the AHA Annual General Meeting.
The award acknowledges someone with leadership potential and a strong commitment in their organisation or field to improve animal health in Australia. With a cash prize of $15,000 to go towards continuing education, personal development or a discrete project with a refined outcome; the award aims to facilitate a career enhancement opportunity for the winner as well as adding value to the national animal health system.
Dr Firestone is coordinating the new Master of Veterinary Public Health (Emergency Animal Diseases) program, which will be producing its first graduates in 2015. In addition, he is also developing a productive research program focused on epidemiology and veterinary public health including avian influenza planning and preparedness, an evaluation of Australia’s national system of zoonosis surveillance and epidemiological analyses and reporting on human notifiable disease surveillance.
Other topics included in his research portfolio include salmonellosis in the poultry industry, Ross River Virus and West Nile Virus Kunjin subtype disease in people and horses, Q Fever in dairy animals and bovine theileriosis, amongst much else.
In addition to his teaching and research activities, Dr Firestone is a passionate advocate for the ‘one health system’ and the importance of close collaboration between human and veterinary public health. Dr Firestone said his vision for the next decade is ‘to future-proof our animal health status, prevent emerging infectious diseases and ensure food security’.
The Ralph Hood Award was established in 2011 to honour the memory of Mr Ralph Hood, Chief Executive Officer of AHA from 2003 to 2007.
Australian Animal Health Laboratory: a front-line defence
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, diagnostic scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are on-call to respond should an emergency animal disease outbreak be suspected.
In a year’s standard delivery, CSIRO scientists at Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong, Victoria, test more than 45,000 samples for 55 terrestrial and 40 aquatic animal diseases every year but during an emergency, have the capacity to test 10,000 samples per day. Researchers are focused on reducing the threats of exotic and emerging animal diseases and are on standby with over 650 different tests covering a diverse range of animal species
Luckily, Australia is free from many diseases found in other parts of the world, such as foot and mouth disease (FMD) and Nipah virus. However, new infectious diseases or new strains of known diseases such as avian influenza, pose a constant threat to the health and wellbeing of animals, humans, the environment, industry and trade.
According to AAHL’s director Dr Kurt Zuelke, ‘AAHL researches diseases of national importance found in livestock, aquaculture animals and wildlife, including those that can pass from animals to people,’ Dr Zuelke said. ‘Our scientists are a front-line defence who help protect the country’s billion dollar livestock and aquaculture industries from disease threats on a daily basis.’
AAHL performs this defence role through ongoing test development, surveillance for disease emergences and when required, responding to animal disease emergencies. A better understanding of disease is crucial when it comes to developing diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatments and in terms of bat and insect-borne disease research, CSIRO AAHL scientists lead the world. This research is important as bats and insects are natural reservoirs of a range of viruses and cause many of the world’s infectious diseases in both animals and humans.
To reduce the disease risks to Australia that are present overseas, AAHL also helps train veterinarians in other countries and is an official collaborating centre for capacity building in Southeast Asia. Recently, teams have visited Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to train local veterinarians in disease diagnosis and testing techniques to aide them in their efforts to control and eradicate diseases such as FMD, classical swine fever and avian influenza. Importantly, this international work means Australia is better prepared with improved threat assessments, surveillance and management options for many foreign diseases.
Learn more about AAHL
This article adapted with permission from one originally published on the CSIRO News Blog
AHA Training joins forces with The Force
The annual NSW Police Force Rural Crime Investigators’ Conference took place in Mudgee on 5-6 November. AHA’s Manager of Training Services Dr Kathy Gibson delivered a presentation to an attentive audience of rural detectives on how Australia would respond to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in this country.
Dr Gibson’s presentation highlighted:
- Existing response plans in Australia, including AUSVETPLAN and the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement
- What foot and mouth disease might look like and how the virus spreads
- The importance of a national livestock standstill and on-going movement controls of animals and products to prevent further spread of the virus
- Personal biosecurity measures necessary to help prevent spread by movement of people
- Predicted impacts of a foot and mouth disease outbreak on the national economy and rural communities
- The role of the police in an emergency animal disease response.
In rural locations, police enjoy a far more integrated, personal relationship with the public than perhaps is common in metropolitan areas and, in the event of disease outbreaks, are relied upon not only as official persons in a response but also as well connected and informed members of the community. Consequently, attendees found the presentation highly engaging and the information directly relevant in their everyday work.
In addition to Dr Gibson’s presentation, the conference addressed diverse issues including hunting in national parks, case studies of rural crime investigations, the use of animal genetics and traceability systems to investigate livestock theft and the role of police in enforcing compliance with state biosecurity requirements. While rural crime may not often make front page news it costs millions of dollars to the agricultural industry every year. Crimes include illegal movements or theft of livestock, produce and equipment, illegal shooting, trespassing and other crimes that affect the livelihood and well-being of people who are already contending with financial and environmental pressures.
To effectively police in rural locations, investigators make use of all available intelligence pertinent to the region, through cooperation with other police branches and emergency services, with agriculture and environment agencies and with technical experts from universities. This conference provided an opportunity to emphasise the importance of rural police in supporting agricultural agencies in the event of an emergency response to a biosecurity incident.
Learn more about AHA’s Training Centre
AHA Annual Report 2012/13 available
The Report includes an overview of the last financial year by AHA Board Chairman Peter Milne as well as former CEO Mike Bond, key highlights, summaries of achievements in each of AHAs four program areas and statements of the company’s financials.
This year’s print version of the Report was printed on recycled paper stock ‘Revive Laser’—sales of which support Landcare Australia.
Farm Biosecurity visits BeefWorks 2013
On 23-24 October, members of the AHA team visited Kerwee feedlot at Jondaryan in Queensland’s Darling Downs for the Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) annual BeefWorks conference. The team promoted the Farm Biosecurity program and good on-farm biosecurity practices.
Each conference attendee was treated with a genuine biosecurity experience, which included disinfecting their footwear, applying hand sanitiser and having their biosecurity risk levels closely scrutinised before entering the feedlot.
In addition to carrying out the biosecurity processes for the conference, the team ran an information stall and provided a number of conference attendees with vital on-farm biosecurity information.
Duncan Rowland, AHA’s Executive Director of Biosecurity Services, highlighted the success of Farm Biosecurity’s participation with BeefWorks 2013.
‘Approximately 435 conference attendees experienced, first-hand, some of the simple and easy-to-do actions that help protect a property from the entry and spread of diseases, pests and weeds.
‘This was the first time a conference of this type was held at a feedlot and because of this unique location, Farm Biosecurity was able to provide a real-world and engaging experience rather than provide a traditional static display,’ Mr Rowland said.
Read more about on-farm biosecurity at the Farm Biosecurity website.
Second outbreak of avian influenza near Young, NSW
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is working together with industry to swiftly control an outbreak of H7 Avian Influenza at a second egg farm in the Young area.
The virus detected in the Young properties is not the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has gained worldwide attention, nor is it closely related to that strain.
The destocking of each infected farm has now been completed and decontamination has commenced.
Investigations are underway to determine whether this second case is linked to the initial outbreak and surveillance, tracing and testing is underway to determine whether the virus has spread to any further farms.
Both farms remain under strict quarantine and movements on and off the properties are being controlled.
Advice remains for backyard poultry owners specifically in the Young and Cowra districts to check the health of their birds daily and to report any unusual signs; this outbreak is another reminder to all producers of the importance of on-farm biosecurity.
People who notice sick or dead birds should contact their local veterinarian or call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.
For more information visit the NSW DPI website.
New version of the EADRA
The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) is a contractual arrangement that brings together the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and livestock industry groups to collectively and significantly increase Australia’s capacity to prepare for and respond to emergency animal disease (EAD) incursions. AHA is a custodian of the agreement.
The EADRA is regularly reviewed so that it remains relevant, flexible and functional. Some minor changes were discussed and agreed to in principle by representatives of signatories at the annual EADRA Workshop on 21 March 2013). Version 13/01 variations to the EADRA were subsequently formally authorised by all signatories in September 2013.
The most important change is a new clause ‘Amendment of Schedules’. This sets out a simplified process for amendment to schedules, lodging and objecting to amendments and responding to an objection. Essentially, this allows signatories to make minor amendments to the EADRA schedules through a more streamlined out-of-session process than the one used to date. The previous process, which requires explicit authorisation in writing by all signatories, remains in place for variations to the clauses of the EADRA.
The next EADRA Workshop will be held on 21 March 2014.
Read more about the EADRA.
Reports confirm Australia needs improved traceability for goats and sheep
The Australian Government has launched an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report, Potential socio-economic impacts of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Australia. The launch coincides with the release of a consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for a plan to review the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats.
The ABARES report shows that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Australia would have far greater and longer lasting effects than first thought, with an anticipated economic loss of $50 billion over 10 years. Given Australia’s total gross value of farm production is currently worth $47 billion a year, FMD is clearly the biggest threat to livestock industries and the livelihoods of producers.
The ability to trace the origin and movement of livestock is critical to responding to an emergency animal disease (EAD) outbreak. The ABARES report on the impact of an FMD outbreak is timely as the RIS indicates Australia cannot continue with the current system for identification and traceability of sheep and goats.
The RIS considers three options for identification and tracking as potentially viable, none of which included the current form of the NLIS Sheep and Goats System. One option is a mob-based system using visually readable tags enhanced by mandatory checks of tags and paperwork, while the other two both involve electronic tagging and movement recording.
Farmers are urged to have their say during the consultation phase. This feedback will inform the final RIS that will be assessed by the Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI). Have your say on livestock identification and traceability by going to www.daff.gov.au/nlis
Australian Red Cross International Volunteering opportunity
The Australian Red Cross is seeking a volunteer Animal Biosecurity Officer to support their work in Bhutan. The assignment is part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, an Australian Government initiative.
With more than half the population of Bhutan earning a living off the land, the successful candidate will help protect the agriculture industry and associated livelihoods by working with the country’s agriculture and food regulatory authority to strengthen animal biosecurity measures.
For more information visit the Australian Red Cross website.