Project number: 2002-665
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $24,971.00
Principal Investigator: Anthony Forster
Organisation: Agriculture Victoria
Project start/end date: 19 Oct 2002 - 25 Sep 2006


As few major disease incidents have occurred in Australian aquaculture, State/Territory departments have relatively little experience in incident management for emergency aquatic animal diseases. No jurisdiction, to date, has conducted a large scale response to eradicate exotic disease in aquaculture and thus expertise in these areas is limited. In the absence of real-life emergency events, simulation exercises provide a practical alternative to expose staff to aspects of emergency management.
The development of the AQUAVETPLAN Control Centre Manual and a Victorian Control Centre Manual will establish new roles and responsibilities for NRE staff, however, implementation success will require extensive training and discussion. Simulation exercises will improve staff awareness and ownership, capacity and communication.
The need for these exercises can be summarised as follows:
1. Both Government and Industries have relatively little experience with real emergencies
2. In Victoria, there is a lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of various individuals and departments especially where fisheries are managed separately from terrestrial animal industries
3. The ability to develop effective State/Territory Control Centre Manuals will be enhanced by testing under simulated disease management conditions
4. Lack of experience with emergency management will invariably lead to a delayed response to a disease emergency, and that in turn may lead to a greater spread of disease, loss of Australia's disease free status and severe impacts on export industries.
All simulation exercises are initiated by requests from clients. NRE has requested the proposed exercise and actively supports the proposal. NRE proposed the simulation exercise as a priority to the ABG and the sub-committee of the FHMC who approved the proposal.


1. To improve awareness and ownership of the AQUAVETPLAN Control Centre Manual amongst participants by working through the manuals in emergency disease response simulation.
2. To improve awareness of participants' roles and responsibilities in an emergency disease response situation by simulating a real response situation,
3. To increase the participants' knowledge of the communication routes to be used in an emergency disease response by working through a scenario which mimics a real emergency situation
4. To examine and test the skills and abilities of the participants in group problem solving and decision making skills
5. To improve the participants' ability to manage tasks by prioritorising a number of competing demands during the operational phase of an emergency response
6. To increase participants' understanding of the operational effects of specific requests to field staff operating at infected premises

Final report

ISBN: 1-74146-274-6
Author: Anthony Forster
Final Report • 2004-07-28 • 687.87 KB


In the past 20 years, many fisheries and aquaculture industries around the world have suffered major production losses through the impact of disease epidemics. To date, Australia has avoided many of these epidemics and retains a favourable disease status, which facilitates international trade and the receipt of premium prices for Australian seafood exports.

Exercise Rainbow was designed to extend on the previous emergency disease simulation exercise conducted in Victoria during Exercise Tethys in November 2003 by providing training in emergency management to a wider group of Fisheries staff and Animal Health staff.

The aim of the exercise was to build capacity within the divisions of the VDPI to appropriately deal with aquatic animal emergency disease response procedures. The simulation was developed over the period from February 2004 to May 2004. Exercise Rainbow was successfully conducted on 5-6 May 2004 with approximately 20 Fisheries staff and 15 Animal Health staff participating.

Evaluation of the outcomes of the exercise and jurisdictional performance highlighted that there is a good general awareness of emergency disease management procedures within VDPI but there exists a number of potential opportunities for further improvement and or development of the existing systems.  This was particularly true in adapting terrestrial animal disease management systems for use in disease incidents in aquaculture and fisheries.

This project resulted in a number of recommendations that aim to improve pre-existing frameworks and resources in order to develop more robust procedures for management of the response to an emergency disease incident.

Keywords: aquatic animal health; aquaculture; disease emergency preparedness; emergency disease response.

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