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Plant Health Australia (PHA) has launched an online plant biosecurity surveillance course aimed at strengthening industry and government’s plant biosecurity response readiness and resilience.

Funded by the Australian Government and available on PHA’s Biosecurity Online Training (BOLT) platform, the free course outlines basic surveillance terminology and principles.

Surveillance plays a critical role in Australia’s plant biosecurity system by providing information about where plant pests or diseases are present. This information is used to maintain and manage the health of agricultural crops, urban and peri-urban plants, and the environment.

“The course was developed after gaps in existing surveillance training materials were identified,” says Rohan Burgess, Surveillance Project Coordinator at PHA.

“We reviewed available training resources and it was clear that there wasn’t always national consistency in the use of surveillance terminology,” he explains.

To address this gap, an online plant biosecurity surveillance course, featuring a mixture of written and video content was developed to support visual and written learners and maintain interest in the course content.

The course covers topics including factors to consider when designing a plant health surveillance program, sample collection and how to report plant pests.

The course consists of five modules:

  1. Introduction to surveillance.
  2. Surveillance basics – information on the different types of plant biosecurity surveillance regularly undertaken in Australia and explain why surveillance is important.
  3. Surveillance program design – factors to consider when designing a surveillance activity.
  4. Data collection and reporting – what information to collect when conducting surveys and how to report findings of potential exotic pests to appropriate authorities.
  5. Final assessment.

“The course is aimed at those new to surveillance activities and completion of the course will improve understanding of surveillance design and terminology. It will assist them in their roles and improve communication with other surveillance professionals,” says Rohan.

While the course was designed for surveillance professionals working in Australia’s plant biosecurity system (including in governments and the agricultural sector), the course is also valuable for other groups with an interest in plant health such as botanic gardens and environmental groups.

PHA’s BOLT system  provides free access to e-learning courses related to plant biosecurity.  BOLT courses undergo regular reviews to ensure they remain current and relevant. Information on how to register for the Plant Biosecurity In Australia course is available at