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Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith

ACPPO celebrates International Day of Plant Health

To celebrate the International Day of Plant Health on 12 May 2023, the Australian Chief Plant Protection Office hosted an in-person science exchange at the new Agriculture House in Canberra, chaired by the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith. Over 100 members of the department and external attendees gathered to exchange knowledge and innovation on plant health, environmental protection, and biodiversity.

Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith gives the opening remarks at the International Day of Plant Health Science Exchange.

In her introduction, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith announced the 4 winners of her office’s photo competition, which were selected from almost 100 wonderful entries. The winning images were integrated into the day. Dr Bertie Hennecke, the new Australian Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer, started the day by delivering a keynote address on Australia’s plant health system and environmental biosecurity. His address was followed by an engaging and informative presentation on the 2022-2023 Threatened Species Action Plan by the Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Fiona Fraser. The focus then shifted to the importance of partnerships in biosecurity with presentations by Sarah Corcoran, the Chief Executive Officer of Plant Health Australia, and Dr Jo Luck, the Program Director of Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative. In the spirit of partnerships and collaboration, attendants were treated to a plant-forward morning tea hosted by Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative.

Department Secretary and Minister Watt meet Spot the robot biosecurity dog.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt spoke of the importance of protecting plant health to achieve a sustainable and prosperous future, highlighting the important work done in the department. Secretary Andrew Metcalfe also addressed the audience, highlighting the necessity of supporting science and partnerships which underpin our biosecurity system and ability to protect plant health. Both the Minister and Secretary met Spot the robot detector dog, an innovation with the ability to undertake biosecurity inspections which might be high risk to humans or living detector dogs. Jessica May, supported by Tony Brennan, outlined further innovations and their uses for the department. Other presentation topics included the hitchhiker pest program, department detection tools, grains industry biosecurity and regional plant biosecurity capacity building.

The Science Exchange was an excellent way to celebrate and reflect on the strides made by the department and our partners towards protecting plant health in Australia and overseas. For more information, see our International Day of Plant Health digital story.

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