Biosecurity Emergency Response Training Australia

Biosecurity Emergency Response Training Australia (BERTA) is an initiative to allow a national and consistent approach to biosecurity emergency response training (including training standards, training and assessment materials, trainers and assessors, and resources). This is undertaken as a cooperative effort between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, Animal Health Australia (AHA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA).


Following the recognition of the need to establish a national framework for biosecurity emergency response assessment skills and competencies in 2008, work to develop such a framework began in 2009. Subsequently over 2010–2012, three biosecurity response qualifications were developed through consultation between the Australian, state and territory biosecurity agencies, AHA and PHA. In 2016, the National Biosecurity Committee funded Tocal College to develop the BERTA Training and Assessment Materials. The BERTA Project aimed to develop a national suite of training and assessment materials that support the delivery of seven biosecurity response skill sets and three qualifications.

In the development of these resources, Tocal College utilised existing training materials, policies, plans, manuals and standard operating procedures and jurisdictional personnel with subject matter expertise as a basis. The resulting resources allow for a blended mode of learning (i.e. mixture of online and face-to-face content) which facilitate jurisdictional trainers to deliver the BERTA materials using a flexible approach.

The BERTA training and assessment materials cover all aspects of biosecurity (including plants, animals, aquatics, marine, environment and invasive species).


The main purpose of BERTA is to develop and maintain a nationally consistent approach in training biosecurity response personnel. In doing so, it ensures that:

  • there is national consistency in the capabilities of response personnel
  • the biosecurity sector is better placed to develop and maintain trained and practiced personnel
  • trained and practiced personnel can respond effectively to biosecurity incidents across all sectors and when deployed to interstate responses
  • capacity and capability to respond to exotic disease threats are increased.

What are the skill sets?

The skill sets target specific roles in a response allowing for comprehensive professional development opportunities for responders, team leaders and managers. Each of the skills sets are also accredited and build towards the qualifications should individuals want to go on to achieve a full qualification. All personnel trained using the BERTA materials will have the same skills and knowledge, making it easier to deploy and receive personnel from interstate for an active biosecurity emergency response in the affected state/territory.

The seven biosecurity emergency response skill sets are designed to give biosecurity emergency response personnel the appropriate knowledge and skills to competently perform one or more roles in a biosecurity emergency response setting and to be ‘mission ready’.

Biosecurity emergency responder

Provides the skills and knowledge required to undertake the duties of a biosecurity responder in biosecurity emergency response operations, in either field or control/coordination centre environments.
A biosecurity responder may:

  • ensure that risk control measures are implemented
  • undertake decontamination and work in quarantine zones
  • contribute to response planning operations
  • implement surveillance and undertake inspections.

Biosecurity emergency response manager

Provides the skills and knowledge required to manage biosecurity emergency response operations, in either field or coordination centre environments.
The biosecurity response leader may:

  • manage multiple teams to develop and carry out an appropriate biosecurity emergency response
  • ensure all response activities are undertaken safely
  • effectively and efficiently implement the relevant aspects of the Incident Action Plan
  • undertake multi-agency liaison and high-level communication activities
  • supervise innovative approaches that strengthen biosecurity response team outcomes
  • formulate strategic plans for response teams
  • work with other agencies and ensure biosecurity compliance
  • demonstrate a high degree of autonomy, judgement and management responsibility in complex and changing contexts within broad established parameters.

Biosecurity field surveillance

Provides the skills and knowledge for those involved in a field surveillance team to undertake a role within an emergency animal disease or emergency plant pest response. It also provides skills and knowledge to those who have daily contact with plants, birds, animals and fish and who are required to recognise unusual disease or plant pest signs during day to work and take appropriate reporting action.

Biosecurity movement control

Provides the skills and knowledge required to implement appropriate procedures to restrict the movement of vehicles, personnel, products, livestock and plant material in relation to managing an emergency animal disease or emergency plant pest incursion.

Biosecurity Infected Premises operations

Provides the skills and knowledge required to carry out emergency animal disease or plant pest control activities at a site affected by an emergency animal disease outbreak or emergency plant pest incursion. The skill set also provides the skills and knowledge required to follow procedures that reduce the likelihood of pathogenic organisms entering a quarantine site; this applies to any personnel entering or leaving the quarantine area.

Biosecurity Infected Premises supervision

Provides the skills and knowledge required to supervise others in a range of activities required on Infected Premises and applies to personnel who have been appointed or engaged to undertake a role within an emergency animal disease or emergency plant pest response. This skill set also provides the skills and knowledge required to manage active operational emergency disease or plant pest sites.

What are the qualifications?

The biosecurity response qualifications provide a comprehensive pathway for biosecurity emergency response personnel at the biosecurity response operations, leadership and management levels, and comprise of:

  • Certificate III in Public Safety (Biosecurity emergency response operations)
  • Certificate IV in Public Safety (Biosecurity emergency response leadership)
  • Diploma of Public Safety (Biosecurity emergency response management)

For more information please visit Tocal College’s BERTA page.

More information