Training exercises

Exercises and workshops

It is essential that government and industry have appropriately trained personnel to respond to emergency animal diseases (EADs) within their respective roles. Discussion-based exercises and workshops provide a fantastic opportunity to familiarise personnel with their roles, responsibilities, arrangements and resources that come into play during an EAD response, but to also explore and identify ways to strengthen the Australian animal health system. Similarly, functional exercises and workshops facilitate personnel to practice their knowledge and understanding in a simulated, often scenario-based, environment.

With training, project management and technical expertise available within AHA, we are able to offer our members with services in the space of exercises and workshops such as:

  • Facilitation
  • Planning
  • Evaluation
  • Delivery (exercise control, communications, logistics)
  • Support (moderation and IT).

In addition, AHA is well placed to identify and bring together our members and other biosecurity stakeholders, including facilitating the support of external expertise. AHA has been involved with a number of simulation exercises for members, either through the National Biosecurity Response Team (formerly the Rapid Response Team, or RRT) or as exercises specially funded by our members.

Previous RRT/NBRT exercises with AHA involvement are listed below.

Marine Pest Exercise

This exercise was developed by the Australian Government, in conjunction with AHA. The overarching Program aim was to improve participants’ understanding of the emergency response systems that are in place for introduced marine pests, and to develop appropriate skills and experience to contribute to an emergency marine pest situation through the delivery of two exercise components.

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Exercise Fintan

This exercise was a discussion exercise based on a fictional outbreak of viral ganglioneuritis in abalone in Tasmania. The exercise was held in Launceston with the support of the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and industry.

Exercise Athena

This exercise was an international functional exercise held to test the International Animal Health Emergency Reserve (IAHER) agreement, which allows signatory countries to share government personnel in the event of an EAD outbreak.

Exercise Apollo

This exercise was a functional exercise based on a fictional outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (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.

Exercise Crown and Anchor

A hybrid exercise for the National Biosecurity Response Team (comprising of elements from functional and discussion-based exercises) which explored how post-border biosecurity responses located in a Commonwealth place, with operations extending into the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, would be managed.

Exercise Slapstick

This exercise was based on a fictional outbreak of 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 Odysseus

This exercise 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 Control Freak

This exercise 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 an FMD scenario.

Exercise Phantom Fox

This exercise simulated a response to an outbreak of clinical bluetongue disease in South Australia.

Exercise Network

Responses to biosecurity emergency responses are conducted out of control centres. Traditionally, this has entailed the establishment of physical facilities where response personnel are co-located, allowing for face-to-face collaboration and coordination. While this approach continues to be preferred and has its advantages, it may not always be a viable option.

The final program activity for the inaugural membership of the NBRT, Exercise Network, looked to explore the nuances of establishing and operating from a virtual control centre. As a hybrid model, the exercise provided an opportunity to assess capabilities, develop and test protocols, and discussed the challenges and opportunities in responding virtually.

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