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Rapid Response Team Training

Animal Health Australia (AHA) manages the Rapid Response Team (RRT) outside of any emergency animal disease (EAD) response activities. During an EAD response, RRT members are deployed by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.

The Rapid Response Team (RRT) comprises about 50 government personnel from around Australia, with skills and expertise in the planning and practical implementation of EAD responses.

RRT members are equipped to fill key management positions in control centres during a response. They can be deployed as individuals, small teams, or a large team in the event of an EAD response in one or more jurisdictions.

First developed and trialled in 2003–04, the RRT concept was identified as a significant incident response asset that could be used in all states and territories, should the need arise.

Membership of the RRT

RRT members are employees of government departments of primary industries who are nominated by their state or territory Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO).

Members generally remain on the RRT for 3–5 years.

Maintaining the vibrancy of the RRT is an important consideration, and AHA seeks nominations from the jurisdictions of new personnel on an annual basis.


RRT members are sponsored to participate in annual professional development activities and training exercises.

Training activities include induction for new members, professional development training and workshops, and regular simulation exercises held in conjunction with one of the jurisdicitions.

Some recent exercises include Exercise Phantom Fox (2012), Exercise Control Freak (2013), Exercise Odysseus (2014), Exercise Slapstick (2015) and Exercise Apollo (2016).

Exercise Phantom Fox simulated a response to an outbreak of clinical bluetongue disease in South Australia.

Exercise Control Freak was a professional development activity aimed at enhancing the RRT members’ knowledge and application of contemporary control/coordination centre functions, using a workshop format based on a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) scenario.

Exercise Odysseus was a program of more than 40 activities conducted in 2014–15 by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, livestock and allied industries and AHA. The program assessed aspects of Australia’s preparedness to implement a national livestock standstill in response to an outbreak of FMD. The RRT participated in regional exercises held in Victoria, discussion exercises in Queensland, and in the Victorian state level exercise in Melbourne.

Exercise Slapstick was based on an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Queensland, with the aim of practicing the application of FMD vaccination strategy, policy and procedures for a specific scenario in south east Queensland.

Exercise Apollo was a functional exercise based on a fictional outbreak of FMD in Western Australia. This was an extension of the same scenario used for Exercise Odysseus and Exercise Slapstick. The aim of the exercise was to assess the preparedness of the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia’s preparedness to a major biosecurity incident.


Jude Nettleingham
Manager, Training Services
Animal Health Australia

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Page reviewed: September 4, 2016