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Plant Health Australia (PHA) recently launched a new e-learning Industry Liaison Officer (ILO) program consisting of an online ILO course and face-to-face ILO workshop.

The program is designed to improve response readiness of industry representatives that may be called on to work in the incident management structure during a response, and to understand their roles and responsibilities.  ILOs contribute to decision-making by providing the affected industry’s perspective on aspects of the operational response. Their experience and knowledge of their respective industries allow them to provide advice on potential impacts of response strategies and actions. ILOs are also important links to support industry communication and engagement during response activities.

Although PHA has been delivering ILO training since 2019, the enhanced program offers a new ILO e-learning course and redesigned training workshop to provide greater in-depth knowledge and the opportunity to develop skills needed for undertaking an industry liaison role during a plant biosecurity response.

ILO e-learning course

The enhanced e-learning course, hosted on PHA’s Biosecurity Online Training platform (BOLT) is a prerequisite to the workshop but also acts as just-in-time and refresher training. The course covers foundational knowledge needed to understand an ILO’s position and reporting obligations within an incident control structure.

ILO workshop

The workshop is delivered in collaboration with the state government or territory where it is being held and includes training on the role and responsibilities of response functional areas, such as Public Information, Planning, and the Incident Controller. This provides participants with an understanding of the situations they would face as an ILO during a response and what their own roles and responsibilities would be. Training provides an opportunity to foster partnerships between industries and government.

The e-learning content helps learners to:

  • understand the purpose of the incident management system and how it is applied during a response
  • understand the reporting lines within the incident management structure and their place within that
  • understand the roles and responsibilities of an ILO during a response and what tasks they would be performing
  • recognise what can be done as part of business as usual to prepare them for a response
  • recognise signs of stress and provide ways to protect their health and well-being during a response
  • understand the importance of reviewing performance and implementing change.

“Access to e-Learning is free and available to anyone who is interested, and it should only take 60 minutes to complete,” said Dr Susanna Driessen, General Manager Emergency Response.

Learners receive a certificate of completion for both e-learning and the workshop, which may be recognised by employees as professional development.

The workshops are held in-person and are designed to:

  • develop a pool of trained industry representatives that can be nominated by their peak industry body to represent them in an Incident control centre
  • introduce representatives to the operational practices of their jurisdiction in a biosecurity emergency response
  • increase government knowledge of the capabilities that local plant industry representatives can bring to a biosecurity emergency response
  • enhance the relationships between industry and government.

The e-learning course is a prerequisite to the workshop, but it also serves as just-in-time and refresher training.

“The workshop explores realistic tasks that an ILO would perform during a response and their required responsibilities,” said Dr Driessen.

Over the next two years, one-day ILO workshops will be held in each state and territory.  If you are interested in the ILO role and attending a workshop, discuss it with your peak industry body and submit an EOI to

The next ILO workshop is scheduled for 25 May 2023 in Tasmania. Visit Plant Health Australia’s BOLT platform for more information.