Biosecurity

Sector Snapshot

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50%

Rise in biosecurity risk materials from 2012 -2017

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$32 billion

in Agriculture exports annually

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$371 million

Funding boost from Federal Government in 2021

The industry

Biosecurity is an important industry that protects our country.

It is used to support the health and wellbeing of our people, native flora and fauna, and our tourism industry. Biosecurity also helps to defend our $32 billion agriculture export industries, ensuring sustainable and resilient food systems.

In this way, it protects not just people and ecosystems, but the economic revenue that supports our way of life.

Biosecurity science involves identifying biosecurity risks, assessing and analysing those risks, and developing control measures to monitor and review these over time.

The workers

Workers in biosecurity are primarily scientists, who work in industries where biosecurity risks are present including agriculture and tourism.

They are involved in compliance, auditing, policy development, data management, investigation, training, and surveillance monitoring.

Many biosecurity scientists work in the agricultural and forestry industry, protecting things like food crops and the natural environment.

While the agricultural workforce is expected to decrease due to automation, scientific roles with a higher skill level will actually increase thanks to sector innovation.

The future of biosecurity

Australia has one of the strongest biosecurity systems in the world.

Despite this, biosecurity risks across human, agriculture, environment and marine health are rising in volume and complexity.

From 2012 to 2017, yearly interceptions of biosecurity risk materials at Australian borders rose by about 50 per cent--numbering 37,014 incidents.

Recent high-profile biosecurity risks include the canine tick-borne disease ehrlichiosis that affects rural dogs, and African swine fever that affects the domestic pork industry.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, biosecurity in Australia has enjoyed renewed attention with the potential for increasing private and government investment.

The CSIRO stated that our existing biosecurity systems would not be enough to deal with the increasing biosecurity risks. The CSIRO also recommended that governments address these concerns by more than tripling biosecurity investment and supporting biosecurity innovation.

In response, in 2021 the Federal government allocated a $371 million boost to biosecurity for Australia.

“This investment is about building a protective ring around Australia to safeguard our industry, as well as the rural and regional communities that depend on it. There will never be zero risk but we are committed to reducing the risk where possible,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“We need to make sure agriculture continues to play a leading role in our national economic recovery.”

Among the existing initiatives to support biosecurity is the Biosecurity Innovation Program.

This program supports new technologies and approaches to enhance Australia’s biosecurity and minimise risks.

It offers financial support to projects that improve the ability to screen goods and passengers, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our system and controls.

It also supports biosecurity risk detection projects, such as those involving drone surveillance, artificial intelligence, robotics and next generation sequencing.

Jobs

Biosecurity scientists work across a range of activities including the following occupations:

  • biosecurity officer
  • biosecurity compliance regulatory officer
  • biosecurity policy officer
  • project support officer

Qualifications

To become a biosecurity scientist, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree or undergraduate certificate.

Box Hill Institute offers the only dedicated undergraduate biosecurity courses available in Australia:

As well as our unique job-ready courses and extensive industry connections, we also have our own Biosecurity Centre of Excellence. The Centre is dedicated to providing education and training to students, as well as key research and support to industry.

We partner with governments and the broader community to protect our food and agriculture systems and Australia’s precious natural environment.