Spend a day with a NSW DPI biosecurity officer

KEEPING the state free from pests and disease is an important role.

And with no physical barriers to protect interstate borders much of the work is carried out by inspections and carefully tailored paperwork. NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) biosecurity industry liaison officer Bev Zurbo took The Rural on a behind the scenes look at how her role protects valuable agricultural markets. 

SAFE KEEPING: Bev Zurbo is the Biosecurity Industry Liaison officer with NSW Department of Primary Industries based in Wagga. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

SAFE KEEPING: Bev Zurbo is the Biosecurity Industry Liaison officer with NSW Department of Primary Industries based in Wagga. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

8am: The day starts with Mrs Zurbo helping to get her two daughters Andie, 16, and Kadie, 13 to high school. 

9am: Work begins at NSW DPI and checking overnight emails is integral to knowing whether there have been any incidences or breaches that need following up. This might involve assessing up paperwork for a truck load of oranges that were stopped at a state border. In this case the paperwork is and protocols are investigated to ensure that there is no biosecurity risk. 

10am: Permit applications are checked. Applications might relate to someone asking to bring plant products or soil into NSW. These products need to meet guidelines set out in state legislation. 

It is important that people understand the dangers of bringing any produce interstate.

Bev Zurbo

1pm: Mrs Zurbo has lunch at what is known as the “greasy spoon” cafe. 

3pm: Her role also involves communicating the latest biosecurity information to the public. This time is used to update the Quarantine Domestic website. She said the website provided industry advice for growers and criteria for entry conditions and access. 

5:30pm: The work day has ended and it is time to start the commute to sporting activities. Mrs Zurbo’s daughter Andie plays league tag and both daughters, Andie and Kadie have netball training and competitions to get to. 

7.30pm: This is precious family time where Mrs Zurbo and her girls sit down and watch the reality show Australian Survivor.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OTHERS: Mrs Zurbo has held the biosecurity role for seven years but her career with the department spans 20 years. 

She says security is of huge importance for the agricultural sector. Biosecurity integrity affects market access and the fortunes of growers.