Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC) willlead a grass-roots collaboration with Indigenous community stakeholders acrossmore than 20 communities in Northern Australia, to improve Indigenouscommunity animal health surveillance capacity, through the collection andreporting of community animal health and biosecurity data via the custom-designed AMRRIC App.

In partnership with community-based collaborators, AMRRIC has received$1.257million funding via the Australian Government Department of Agriculture,Water and the Environment’s Biosecurity Business Grants Program which fundsIndigenous organisations to develop opportunities that capitalise onbiosecurity.

The project will be delivered by AMRRIC in partnership with remote Indigenouscommunity stakeholders in the Northern Territory, Western Australia andQueensland. AMRRIC will collaborate with the Northern Australia QuarantineStrategy (NAQS) and Wildlife Health Australia (WHA) to ensure thatsurveillance undertaken throughout the project aligns with Australia’sbiosecurity priorities.

The three-year collaborative project will enhance biosecurity capacity inremote Indigenous communities and support Indigenous economic opportunities,by supporting the employment of over 40 local community members.

“Vast distances, seasonal access challenges, cultural differences and limitedveterinary and animal health capacity within remote Indigenous communitiespose significant challenges to the early detection of animal disease events,”said AMRRIC Chief Executive Officer Dr Brooke Rankmore.

“Recent animal disease events including the outbreak of Ehrlichia canis,currently devastating dog populations in many remote communities acrossNorthern Australia, and the threat of incursions of exotic diseases such asRabies and Africa Swine Fever emphasise the urgent need for improved animalbiosecurity data capture in remote Indigenous communities.”

The custom-designed AMRRIC App has been tailored to the unique context ofremote Indigenous communities, featuring a user-friendly interface, extensiveuse of images, icons and design features to minimise the need for text inputand aid in ensuring data validity, and will allow users of all educationallevels to easily capture companion animal population and health data.

The animal health surveillance data captured through the AMRRIC App will beshared with biosecurity authorities, contributing to improvements inAustralia’s animal biosecurity surveillance, and to animal health in remoteIndigenous communities.

AMRRIC staff will partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait IslanderOrganisations to provide in-community training in the use of the AMRRIC App.

“As one of the most unique local government and biosecurity areas inAustralia, we are constantly looking for innovative solutions to assist inmitigating our biosecurity risks, such as the AMRRIC App. We believe thissystem will assist our Environmental Health workforce, by enablingimprovements to our current animal biosecurity data capture and ultimatelyAustralia’s biosecurity surveillance systems,” said Cr. Phillemon Mosby, Mayorof the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC), one of the organisationswhich will be involved in the project.

“We look forward to collaborating with AMRRIC so that our staff can receivetraining in collecting animal health surveillance data. Given the limitedveterinary access to our communities, this project is vital to improvingAustralia’s animal disease early detection through community-based capacity.”

AMRRIC will deliver contextually appropriate training in remote Indigenouscommunities to support the ongoing use of the AMRRIC App to collect companionanimal health data.

“Local staff from partner community organisations will be trained toadminister animal anti-parasitic treatments alongside door-to-door datacapture activities. While visiting each region to deliver annual data capturetraining, AMRRIC staff will also work alongside partner organisation staff todeliver biosecurity-focused educational activities to school and communitygroups,” said Dr Rankmore.

“The project will facilitate community member participation in biosecuritydata capture and reporting, whilst also raising awareness about the importanceof biosecurity.”

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