Valuing Community Engagement in Biosecurity Surveillance

It is well known that the public can play an important role in invasive species management through 'passive surveillance'. Passive surveillance occurs when members of the public report encounters with pests, to assist surveillance and control efforts. Passive surveillance and resulting positive finds, 'passive detections', have often been the method by which an invader is first recognised in a country or region. Passive surveillance can also play an important role in on-going eradication programs, and it is now commonplace to spend resources on public awareness campaigns in these programs in order to boost the number of detections that come from members of the public.

While passive surveillance is acknowledged to be a critical component of eradication programs and expenditure on public awareness campaigns designed to improve reporting has become routine, very little is known about the 'return on investment' in passive surveillance.  The aim of this project is therefore to estimate the level of passive surveillance within a community, and its relationship to: attributes of the pest; attributes of the public awareness campaign; situational and individual attributes of individuals within the community; and attributes of the area in which people live.

The purpose of the study is to obtain a quantitative relationship between public responsiveness to biosecurity campaigns and observable features (such as income, education, age and occupation) for a specific case study: the red imported fire ant (RIFA) invasion in Brisbane.

This project is being led by Professor Oscar Cacho and Dr Susie Hester, School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, UNE, with the assistance of the Institute for Rural Futures.

Related publications

Valuing community engagement in biosecurity surveillance- Final Report

Completed in 2011

Funded by: Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis; Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Partners: Oscar Cacho and Susie Hester, UNE Business School, University of New England

Contact: Ian Reeve