Author: Jennifer Manyweathers – Graham Centre for Agricultural innovation (Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries). Australia


  • Lynne Hayes – Charles Sturt University Australia
  • Jennifer Kelly – CSIRO Australia
  • Barton Loechel – CSIRO Australia
  • Yiheyis Maru – CSIRO Australia

By promoting mutual trust, and inclusion of multiple sources of knowledge and experience, the Agricultural Innovations Systems (AIS) framework is transforming how improvements in animal disease management are achieved, through a four year pilot study in Australia.

Traditional approaches to improving disease monitoring and reporting typically follow a linear research-extension-adoption model. This has not been effective in addressing complex issues involving multiple stakeholders with competing priorities, such as animal disease management. Instead, an AIS approach has been adopted to enhance Australia’s preparedness for a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak.

The project brings together livestock producers, veterinarians, livestock agents, abattoir representatives, social scientists, etc., to tackle complex issues around animal disease monitoring and trusting relationships, one conversation at a time.

The FMD Ready Farmer-led surveillance project, working with five different livestock industries, flips the traditional top-down deficit model approach to improve disease monitoring by including multiple stakeholder voices to transform how knowledge is co-created, valued and shared. This pilot study will contrinbute to the development of a model approach for addressing other complex scientific and social issues, reaffirming the importance of evidence-based science communication best practice.

This project is supported by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, and by producer levies from Australian FMD-susceptible livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) industries and Charles Sturt University (CSU), leveraging significant in-kind support from the research partners.

The research partners for this project are the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), CSU through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the Australian Department of Agriculture, supported by Animal Health Australia (AHA).The project commenced in July 2016 and will conclude in June 2020.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Time

Author: Jennifer Manyweathers – Graham Centre for Agricultural innovation (Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Australia

Nancy Longnecker – Otago University, Australia
Jennifer Manyweathers – Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation/Charles Sturt University, Australia
Mel Taylor – Macquarie University, Australia

As new disease threats continue to emerge, the creation of risk mitigation strategies relies on clear, timely and proactive communication. The problem is that discourse between various publics and authorities can become mired in distrust and can result in outbreaks of increased severity and duration, wasted resources, and lost opportunities for participatory risk mitigation planning and discussion.

This workshop, based on the story of an actual emerging infectious disease outbreak spreading from animals to humans in Australia, will examine differing worldviews of the stakeholders involved in the discourse, and provide a platform for discussion of the role of risk perception and authority in situations of risk.

Using real data and dialogue, workshop participants will be divided into stakeholder groups, including the scientists who develop the protective vaccine, the pharmaceutical company that manufacture it, vets who administer the vaccine and animal owners deciding whether or not to vaccinate their animals. As the disease outbreak story unfolds, stakeholders will be given more information and required to make key decisions, while deliberating on communication approaches. The workshop concludes with an opportunity for discussion around risk communication and an overview of the key stages of the outbreak story.

While the unfolding story closely follows an emerging, infectious, animal-origin disease outbreak, the principles considered will be applicable to any discourse around risk and mitigation and will broaden participants’ understanding of possible approaches to risk communication.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Workshop
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices

Author: Jennifer Manyweathers – Graham Centre for Agricultural innovation (Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Australia

Marta Hernandez-Jover – Charles Sturt University
Heleen Kruger – Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Science
Barton Loechel – CSIRO Land and Water
Aditi Mankad – CSIRO Land and Water
Yiheyis Maru – CSIRO Land and Water

Australia’s animal industries rely on their ‘clean and green’ status: free from many diseases that are endemic elsewhere in the world. This status is fragile, relying on a mixture of pre-border, border and post-border control activities. On-farm surveillance is a key component of the post-border control activities. An incursion of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) virus into susceptible livestock, such as beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, would have devastating impacts on faming families and communities as well as Australian domestic and international markets.

Research has established that by reducing the time between initial infection and when the disease is first detected, the duration of the outbreak and consequently the financial and emotional impact can be significantly reduced. However, this relies on understanding more about the stories behind farmer practices and attitudes towards animal health, which influence the capacity for early detection.

This project aims to build a clearer understanding of these stories behind behaviour, practices and attitudes of farmers around their animals’ health. Initially, segments of the different livestock industries will be identified, according to the risk they face of an FMD outbreak, in relation to potential exposure and capacity to respond to such an outbreak. Risk characterisation data will be collected via a survey and followed by detailed social, institutional and behavioural network analyses to inform the development of an innovative tailored pilot surveillance program. The program will be created within the context of each producer group, based on agricultural innovations systems and aimed at establishing a farmer-led, partnership model to improve on-farm disease surveillance. This bottom up model will allow for individual stories and farming approaches to inform the development of the surveillance program, creating a trust based model for better national disease surveillance for Australia’s animal industries.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Applying science communication research to practice