CSIRO says Australia needs a better biosecurity system.

A new report by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, says the nation needs a more innovative, coordinated and collaborative biosecurity system if it is to keep up with the threat from increasing and severe biosecurity events.

The experts warn Australia is at risk of increased disease outbreaks and pest incursions, weakened exports, and damage to our global trading reputation.

In the five years to 2017, the amount of biosecurity risk materials intercepted in Australia increased by almost 50 per cent. At the same time, the risk of biosecurity threats like pandemics are on the rise, fuelled by global trade and travel, urbanisation, climate change, biodiversity loss and antimicrobial resistance.

CSIRO’s Director of Health and Biosecurity Dr Rob Grenfell says the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the interconnectedness between human, animal and environmental health. A weakness in one is a vulnerability for all.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased community and public awareness of the importance of biosecurity,” Dr Grenfell said.

“We need to take this unique opportunity to transform Australia’s biosecurity system so it can cope with the growing volume and complexity of threats.

“How Australia navigates the changes needed over the next decade will significantly impact the health of Australians, our communities, ecosystems and agricultural systems and food security into the future.”

Australia has one of the strongest biosecurity systems in the world and a global reputation as a high-quality exporter, protecting environmental assets valued at over $6 trillion and saving Australian industries billions of dollars a year.

While the current model has served the nation well, the report found it needs to be enhanced to handle the growing biosecurity threats the nation faces otherwise Australia could be exposed to significant social, environmental and financial consequences.

The biosecurity system of the future needs to be built on digital, autonomous and interconnected platform technologies, CSIRO says.

The full report is accessible here.

Future proofing Australia’s biosecurity system from CSIRO on Vimeo.