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Farmer-led Surveillance

Partnerships are essential for effective surveillance systems. All livestock value chain participants including producers, transporters, rural service suppliers, abattoirs, veterinarians and diagnosticians have a role to play in disease recognition, reporting and response.

The Farmer-led surveillance systems project will seek the participation of Australian producers in a pilot program demonstrating the value of farmer-led partnerships for improving livestock surveillance at the farm level, for endemic and emergency animal diseases.

The rural community plays a vital role in livestock surveillance and goat, pig, cattle and sheep producers across the country are invited to take part in this project.

Project update: July 2018

Data collection: With tremendous support from the states and territories, and the beef, sheep and goat industries, we have completed our surveys looking at practices, beliefs and behaviours related to animal disease monitoring and reporting. The dairy cattle and pork industry surveys are still open so if you are a dairy or pork producer in Australia and would like to participate in the survey, please click on the links below.

Data analysis: Initial findings from 277 beef and 194 sheep producers and 130 goat producers are being analysed to help us understand constraints and opportunities faced by producers around animal disease and health management across Australia. Stay tuned for results.

Pilot networks: Information meetings for pilot groups have been held in Tasmania (pork), Queensland (beef), Western Australia (sheep), and Victoria (dairy), with the first pilot meeting scheduled for September 2018. Discussions are underway for establishment of a pilot group within the goat industry in South Australia.

Team training and presentations: The research team is taking every opportunity to talk about the project. Some of the recent opportunities are listed below.

  • Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) conference in Dunedin, New Zealand, 3-6th April 2018
  • Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists Science Week, 5-7th July 2018
  • International Symposium for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics in Thailand, November 2018 – one poster and one presentation have been accepted at this conference

Sub-project two pilot information 

Project team:

Dr Yiheyis Taddele Maru
Subproject leader

AProf Marta Hernandez-Jover
Charles Sturt University
Veterinary Epidemiologist

Dr Jennifer Manyweathers
Charles Sturt University

Emma Davis
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Dr Yiheyis Maru is a senior systems research scientist, who has worked for CSIRO since 2002. He is a veterinarian who led and organised surveillance and vaccination programs for Rinderpest, a disease of cattle which was eradicated from the world in 2011. Yiheyis has an interest in understanding social, economic and environmental factors for improving livelihoods of rural communities. He has done research on the importance of social networks on the resilience of pastoralists in central Australia, and on the role of social factors on the transmission of African swine fever in east Africa. He leads the subproject on improving surveillance through farmer-led partnership as part of this RnD4Profit project.

Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover is an Associate Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health at the School of Animal and Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga. Her main interests and current research focus on biosecurity risks and risk analysis methods applied to infectious animal diseases and public health. Marta graduated in 2000 from the Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona in Spain, where she also completed her PhD on livestock traceability in 2006. In 2006, Marta joined the University of Sydney as an Epidemiology research fellow working on traceability, biosecurity, disease surveillance and risk analysis. Marta started at the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at CSU in 2012, where she teaches epidemiology, public health and food safety to veterinary students. She has led and contributed to research on biosecurity and disease surveillance among livestock producers in Australia, investigating implementation of and drivers for engagement with biosecurity and animal health management practices. Currently she is the Leader of the Livestock Systems Research Pathway of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and the Higher Degree by Research coordinator of the School of Animal and Veterinary Science. Since completing her PhD, Professor Hernandez-Jover has published over 45 research articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Dr Jennifer Manyweathers has worked extensively as a veterinarian in mixed practice in rural Austrlaia and has lectured at Tsukuba University in Japan in science communication. Her interests focus on communication around scientific uncertainty in emerging disease outbreaks and the role that social and cultural insight plays in risk analysis of emergency animal and zoonotic disease outbreaks.

She completed her PhD on risk communication by veterinarians and horse owners around Hendra virus. She designed a risk communication workshop to assist veterinarians and biosecurity researchers to understand the importance of social and cultural drivers in decisions made by animal owners and farmers around animal disease risks.

Jennifer works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Livestock Biosecurity and  Disease surveillance at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and Charles Sturt University since April 2017. She is working on the application of Agricultural Innovation Systems as a framework to improve surveillance for emergance animal diseases by Australian livestock producers.

Emma Davis graduated from Veterinary Science with Honors in University of Sydney Class of 2001 with her second  degree, her first being Bachelor of Applied Science (Equine Studies) through Charles Sturt University. In 2001, before graduating Emma started a consultancy for Charles Sturt University to successfully propose and design a new veterinary school to Government in response to the Rural Veterinary Review.  Emma’s lifelong love of horses led her to equine practice and then rural mixed veterinary practice. In 2007 Emma joined the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and here worked on AusAID projects on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In 2009 Emma gained an Executive position in the DAFF team responding to the Callinan Review into the equine influenza outbreak and worked to implement the 38 recommendations, Emma and the team received an Australian Public Service Australia Day Award for this work in 2011. Emma was Operations Manager in the Export Meat Program in 2012 looking at quality assurance in veterinary certification systems. In 2015 Emma launched the website and a Veterinary Career Coaching business in 2017. Emma started a PhD at CSU looking at Australia’s veterinary capacity with respect to surveillance and the value veterinarians brings to the agricultural system in 2017

Dr Rob Woodgate
Charles Sturt University

Dr Rob Woodgate is a veterinarian with more than 25 years of experience in livestock health and production research and extension around Australia.

Rob is currently an Associate Professor and Associate Head of School in the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW. He teaches parasitology and general animal health to Veterinary Science, Animal Science, Equine Science and Veterinary Technology students. Rob is also involved in a variety of biosecurity and parasitology-related research projects and manages the parasitology section of CSU’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Rob is also a current member of the National Technical Committee for Australia’s Paraboss website.

Previously Rob has worked as a Senior Veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia, a Research Veterinarian with Veterinary Health Research in Armidale, NSW and a Veterinarian with Sheep Management and Production Consultants in Kojonup, WA. Highlights include facilitating communication and practice change with a wide range of local, national and international producers and other agribusiness, national leadership of the WormBoss website from 2005 until 2010 and membership of Australia’s national Rapid Response Team for emergency animal diseases from 2007 until 2010.