Victorian saleyards tested for outbreak preparedness

Beef Central, 07/04/2014

Saleyards around Australia are proving they are ready for a national livestock standstill if Australia was struck with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) according to a number of recent Exercise Odysseus activities.

Exercises were held at saleyards in Leongatha, Wodonga and Ballarat in March to see how they could cope with a virtual FMD outbreak.

The activities were organised by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Victoria with support from Animal Health Australia (AHA).

AHA manages the professional development of the national emergency animal disease Rapid Response Team (RRT), which participates in many Exercise Odysseus activities. AHA also provides support, personal development and leadership opportunities for the government jurisdictions running the simulated exercises, which are designed to test and enhance government and industry preparedness for implementing a national livestock standstill.

AHA Coordinator for Learning & Development, Jude Nettleingham, was at the Ballarat and Leongatha exercises and commented on the quality of information and feedback collected during the activities.

“The RRT personnel provided a set of fresh eyes, offering an operational perspective to the saleyard owners for reviewing their FMD preparedness plan. It also provided an opportunity to go through some Nationally Agreed Standard Operating Procedures (NASOPs) which have been developed for use during responses to Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) incidents and emergencies.

“As part of the Leongatha saleyard exercise, teams of DEPI staff and RRT members investigated aspects of the saleyard operations that might pose a challenge in a livestock standstill situation. A sale was in progress which added to the trial of the exercise.

“The teams considered saleyard security and access points; feeding, housing and securing livestock at the saleyard; impact on adjacent landholders; and, noted the range of people who were at the saleyard, including transporters, producers, agents and visitors,” she said.

More than 40 Exercise Odysseus activities will be conducted at an organisational, jurisdictional and national level in each Australian state and territory throughout 2014. Animal Health Australia representatives play a key role in the Exercise Odysseus planning and communications team, steering committee and working groups.

AHA continues to work with government agencies and livestock and associated industries to oversee the planning, conduct and evaluation of national livestock standstill exercises currently taking place.

Source: Animal Health Australia


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