Congratulations to the Goulburn Murray Valley (GMV) Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Program that won the Community category in the 2021 Australian Biosecurity Awards. The event was held at the National Biosecurity Forum in Canberra in November.

The award, presented by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE), recognises the important contribution the program is making to the quality of Australian horticulture and our national biosecurity system.

Program partners and contributors have added the prestigious national award to a growing collection of award titles, after the program took out the Victorian Achiever of the Year and the Victorian Agricultural Innovation Awards in 2019.

Ross Abberfield, Program Coordinator, said the ongoing success and national recognition was due to the extraordinary community effort the program had generated across the Goulburn Murray Valley since the project’s inception four years ago.

“By creating strong levels of awareness, education and engagement at a community level, and also amongst industry, government and research organisations, we have been able to encourage and support the whole community to take ownership of fruit fly management. We look forward to building future relationships with Plant Health Australia, Hort Innovation Australia and the National Fruit Fly Council,” Ross said.

The program is supported by Moira Shire and funded by the Victorian Government’s Managing Fruit Fly Regional Grants Program. The program takes in the council areas of Moira, Greater Shepparton, Campaspe, Strathbogie and Berrigan Shires and works closely with the community, industry and government.

The Program’s Governance Group is made up of representatives from the five Local Government Areas, Cobram and District Fruit Growers Association, Fruit Growers Victoria, Agriculture Victoria, Macquarie University, Lions International together with other community, industry and government representatives.

The Governance Group Chair and President of the Cobram and District Fruit Growers Association, Tony Siciliano said the award recognised the program as the benchmark in Australian Fruit Fly Area Wide Management.

“Our ‘No Flies On Us!’ brand is known throughout Australia and our achievements include multiple trapping grids used to identify and target fruit fly ‘hot spots’, that have in turn lead to dramatic reductions of fruit fly populations in the GMV over the past four years. This has been done by high levels of community engagement and our communities should be proud of their efforts in helping to stop the spread of fruit fly,” Tony said.

“We are the only Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Program in Australia to have generated over 3,000 community volunteers to help educate and engage the community to reduce the impact of fruit fly and we’re extremely appreciative of their enormous and ongoing contribution,” he said.

The program has removed more than 100,000 unmanaged fruit trees, through its free Tree Removal Program, that would otherwise be a breeding habitat for fruit fly. The removal of this potential breeding habitat is an integral part of the Area Wide Management of the pest.

“Research projects use the Area Wide Management platform to provide practical solutions to reduce fruit fly populations, such as the trial of aerial released Sterile Fruit Flies in Cobram,” Tony said.

“With continued financial assistance from government, we would like to share our learnings with the Australian community and engage our nation to stop the impact of fruit fly. We believe that by engaging the broader community through Area Wide Management, we can increase the quality of Australian horticultural exports and expand further into world markets,” he concludes.

Watch the awards video