Our role in biosecurity

We administer the parts of the Biosecurity Act 2015 that relate to human health. We work with other agencies to reduce the risk of harmful human diseases entering and leaving Australia.

Legislation we administer

The national Biosecurity Act 2015 sets out how to manage the risks that relate to diseases and pests.

We administer the parts of the Act that cover human health, including the:

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) administers the parts of the Act that cover environment, animal and plant risk.

Border biosecurity measures

The legislation we administer sets out how to manage the risks that relate to infectious human diseases entering Australia.

We develop policy and guidance on how to apply measures at Australia’s international border.

DAFF manages these measures for us at Australia’s international air and sea ports.

Listed human diseases screening

Listed human diseases are those in the Biosecurity (Listed Human Diseases) Determination 2016. They are diseases that the Director of Human Biosecurity (the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer) considers:

  • may be communicable, and
  • may cause significant harm to human health.

View the listed human diseases.

We screen for listed human diseases at Australia’s international border through measures such as:

  • reporting of sick passengers and deaths
  • pratique – requiring permission to unload passengers and cargo
  • referrals to human biosecurity officers for medical advice.

DAFF manages screening of international arrivals for us at international air and sea ports. At times, they also screen international departures. Go to their website to find out more about aircraft pratique and vessel pratique.

Reporting sick or deceased travellers

Aircraft and vessel operators must report if anyone on board dies or has any of these symptoms:

  • fever, or suspected fever
  • jaundice
  • a new rash
  • unusual bleeding
  • a new coughing illness.

Travellers and crew who feel unwell should see a biosecurity officer. The officer will ask them about their symptoms, where they have travelled and when they began to feel unwell.

DAFF manages reporting for us. Go to their website to find out more about reporting ill or deceased travellers.

Aircraft disinsection

Aircraft disinsection helps to protect Australia from human diseases carried by insects.

All aircraft arriving in Australia must be disinsected. This can include spraying insecticide in passenger cabins and cargo holds. The approved insecticide sprays do not harm human health when used as recommended.

DAFF manages aircraft disinsection for us. Go to their website to find out more about aircraft disinsection.

Mosquito vector monitoring

Vectors are living organisms (such as insects) that can spread disease.

We monitor and control mosquito vectors at Australia’s international border. This is critical because Australia has few serious insect disease vectors. We must also do this to meet our obligations under the International Health Regulations.

We monitor all mosquito vectors through a network of traps and larval collection sites, including the following exotic species:

  • Dengue mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti)
  • Asian tiger mosquitoes (Ae. albopictus)
  • Malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles spp.).

We set vector monitoring policy for Australia. DAFF manages vector monitoring for us at Australia’s international border. Go to their website to find out more about Asian tiger mosquitoes.

Response to exotic mosquito detections at the border

Our guide for exotic mosquito detections at first points of entry sets out the processes and responsibilities for when DAFF detects exotic mosquitoes. This guide is for detections that the Australian Government is responsible for, such as those at the border made by:

  • vector monitoring
  • border inspection of vessels, aircraft and cargo
  • reports by the public of mosquitoes related to importing.

Ship sanitation

The Ship Sanitation Certificate Scheme aims to control the spread of listed human diseases and pests. It applies to all vessels that enter Australia.

DAFF manages sanitation for us. Go to their website to find out more about ship sanitation.

Emergency response planning at the border

To meet our international obligations, we maintain public health emergency plans. The plans must include strategies to respond to health emergencies. Australia’s national response plans include:

For more about how we prepare for outbreaks and pandemics, see emergency health management.

Importing human remains or ashes

The legislation we administer sets out the requirements for importing human remains to reduce health risk. We:

  • develop the policy and guidance for importing human remains
  • grant permission to import remains in some cases.

Other agencies help us to manage these requirements at the border. To find out more, see importing human remains.

Date last updated:

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