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Exercise Orange Juice

About the exercise

Exercise Orange Juice was held in October 2018 and was designed to review and evaluate New South Wales’ preparedness to a detection of the exotic disease citrus canker. The exercise was conducted under the present threat of citrus canker detections in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

There has never been a detection of citrus canker in New South Wales, however, in light of this most recent citrus canker incursion and other previous outbreaks of this disease in Australia, the NSW Government identified a need to review and evaluate NSW emergency response plans, preparedness and response capacity.

Exercise Orange Juice was discussion based exercise stemmed from a hypothetical scenario of citrus canker being discovered in a retail outlet in NSW. Held in Griffith NSW on October 24 2018, a key focus of the exercise was the dynamic between NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS) in responding to a plant based emergency.

Participants

Exercise Orange Juice was prepared and conducted in partnership by DPI and LLS, with participants from both branches of government as well as key stakeholders of the NSW citrus industry.

Government units present at the exercise included Primary Industries’ Plant Biosecurity & Product Integrity, Emergency Operations Intelligence & Programs, Plant Biosecurity Research & Diagnostics, Biosecurity & Food Safety Compliance, DPI Horticulture, Biosecurity & Food Safety Stakeholder Engagement & Customer Service, DPI Communications & Stakeholder Engagement and Local Land Services representatives from various regions.

External parties who attended the exercise included representatives from Plant Health Australia, Citrus Australia, Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (including NSW & ACT branch) and NSW Farmers.

Evaluation

Evaluator reports, feedback surveys and materials produced from the Exercise Orange Juice were reviewed for evaluation of the exercise. An Exercise Report based on this evaluation was released to participants and participating agencies on 23 January 2019.

The overall success of the Exercise is conveyed by the gaps identified and associated recommendations that have been produced as an outcome of positive discussion. Recommendations detailed in the report are numerous and have been divided into five areas for improvement:

  • Emergency Management plans, policy and process
  • Agency organisation
  • Training
  • Resources
  • Exercise management

Conclusions

Despite some drawbacks to the exercise conduct stemming from unforeseen expectations and assumptions of the format, Exercise Orange Juice was ultimately successful in its aim to review and evaluate NSW preparedness to a detection of the exotic pest citrus canker. Participants were successfully able to discuss and identify a significant number of areas for improving NSW preparedness.

A very positive outcome was that no significant crippling gaps were identified that would have inhibited a citrus canker eradication attempt. NSW DPI and stakeholder agencies are currently prepared to effectively respond to a citrus canker outbreak, but there are a number of areas that could do with improvement, not only for citrus canker, but NSW biosecurity emergency responses as a whole. Particular areas for improvement focus include:

  • Better preparing agencies and individuals with emergency management training and experience
  • Taking better advantage of our cross-agency relationships
  • Improving processes for government internal collaboration

A number of areas of improvement for exercise management were also identified and will be recorded for future exercise conduct.

If you would like to request a copy of the exercise report please indicate your interest to rebekah.pierce@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Being better prepared

This exercise was an important part of government and industry’s preparedness to respond effectively and efficiently to biosecurity emergencies. The exercise assists in better preparation for pest and disease incursions that have the potential to damage Australia’s food and fibre production industries.

Aim

To review and evaluate NSW preparedness to a detection of the exotic pest citrus canker where the emergency response effort is focused on attempted eradication.

Objectives

The objectives to be achieved by conducting this exercise include:

  • Objective 1 Assess New South Wales’ preparedness to respond to a citrus canker detection in the state
    • Sub-objective 1.1 Identify and capture any gaps or shortfalls of current NSW emergency response plans, protocols and processes that would be utilised in a response to citrus canker
    • Sub-objective 1.2 Identify solutions and capture recommendations based on any gaps or shortfalls identified
    • Sub-objective 1.3 Determine an initial response plan for citrus canker based on NT and QLD response plans
  • Objective 2 Build collaboration and clarify roles within NSW DPI clusters and between NSW DPI and LLS in relation to plant based emergency response
    • Sub-objective 2.1 Clarify roles across DPI internal clusters in a plant emergency response
    • Sub-objective 2.2 Clarify roles between DPI and LLS in a plant based emergency response
  • Objective 3 Explore communications processes in relation to a citrus canker emergency response
    • Sub-objective 3.1 Identify key communications to occur throughout the response and identify who is responsible
    • Sub-objective 3.2 Identify and capture interactions and flow of information that occurs between communications team AND functional response areas
    • Sub-objective 3.3 Capture any gaps or shortfalls and identify potential solutions or recommendations against these