NSW Department of Primary Industries

THE CHALLENGE

An outbreak of Equine Influenza (EI) in Australia was confirmed in August 2007 and spread throughout Eastern NSW and South-East Queensland. EI is an acute, highly contagious viral disease that affects horses, donkeys, mules and other equine species. Although destruction and decontamination of horses was not necessary, the economic and social impact on the community was substantial. In order to ensure that NSW was prepared for future emergencies, Noetic was commissioned to conduct an independent review of the response to EI.

WHAT NOETIC DID

Noetic primarily focused on the response to EI by the State Disease Control Headquarters and Local Disease Control Centre. The analysis of the EI event used a proven lessons learnt process designed to deliver actionable outcomes to improve future organisational capability. This high-level strategic assessment and engagement with stakeholders was undertaken to identify those areas which were handled well, and those that required action. The review outlined the context of the EI event and the NSW and Commonwealth Governments’ response. It examined the major thematic areas that arose during the operational response, and made key recommendations aimed at increasing the preparedness and effectiveness of future exotic animal disease outbreak responses.

THE OUTCOME

Noetic’s proven lessons learnt process provided the NSW Government, particularly the Department of Primary Industries, with the opportunity to critically examine their response to a pandemic and ensure hard won lessons were learned. Noetic’s recommendations meant the public and industry could return to normality, with a practical, scalable, flexible and robust response in place. Our work has informed the arrangements that exist across NSW Government today in pandemic preparedness.