With African swine fever (ASF) confirmed in Timor-Leste, the Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) has been working with the community and industry to help keep Australia free of the disease, including developing a suite of in-language information materials.
ASF is a contagious disease of pigs (that doesn’t affect human health), that would devastate the pork industry valued at $5.3 billion, seriously impact Australian agriculture and have significant social and economic impacts.
DPIR’s Executive Director Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Sarah Corcoran said the department was taking this threat extremely seriously working in partnership with the Australian government community and industry to educate travellers to the NT by raising awareness of biosecurity restrictions.
“Darwin is the gateway for the Timor-Leste seasonal worker program, which is critical to our agricultural industry and provides vital opportunities and economic benefits between our countries,” Ms Corcoran said.
“Seasonal workers coming to Darwin from Timor-Leste are able to gain valuable on-the-job learning opportunities, and this can be a life changing opportunity for many workers.
“This partnership is vital in continuing to attract seasonal workers to fill employment gaps unable to be met by the Australian workforce.
“It’s vital we engage these workers with information, so we are pleased to have developed and launched a suite of in-language materials to support traveller education and border protection.
“Not only have we developed the information material in Tetum, but also Chinese, Thai, Khmer, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Filipino.
“The spread of the disease has been driven by human activity – movement of pigs, contaminated equipment, and people, carrying meat and meat products containing the virus that may end up getting fed to pigs, so it’s important that we get the message out there,” she said.
The Consulate-General of Timor-Leste, Francisco Jose Dos Remedios Ramos Felipe said he was pleased with the work the Northern Territory Government, industry and the Australian Government were undertaking.
“We have been working together to ensure the right information is being provided to our travellers,” he said.
“It is important we equip our seasonal workers with the very best information to prevent introduction of the disease and we are promoting ways to mitigate the risk prior to the workers leaving Timor-Leste and on arrival in Darwin,” he said.
The NT shares the responsibility to protect Australia against ASF. Do your bit by:
· declaring all products specified on your incoming passenger card
· reporting any international mail containing meat, animal products or farm equipment and any other biosecurity concerns to the See.Secure.Report hotline 1800 798 636.
The spread of ASF has been linked to domestic and feral pigs consuming swill (meat products, or products that have come into contact with meat that is infected with the ASF virus). It can also be transmitted by exposure to contaminated items such as equipment, vehicles, clothing and footwear.
The NT Government is also asking pig owners and pig hunters to remain vigilant for ASF as this serious disease continues to spread through neighbouring regions.
If hunting and a sick or deceased pig is observed, please contact the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888. Do not come into contact with or move any pigs that are sick or found deceased.