• Profile: Nick Secomb, Director of Plant and Invasive Species Biosecurity at PIRSA image

Meet Nick Secomb, Director of Plant and Invasive Species Biosecurity at the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA). His diverse background in animal and plant control includes work with feral animals, weeds, fruit flies, and phylloxera. Nick currently leads three teams working on plant biosecurity (including business-as-usual fruit fly work, invasive species (including weeds, vertebrate pests and marine pests) and the team delivering South Australia’s Fruit Fly Emergency Response.

Q&A with Nick

Tell us a bit about yourself, your education, and career.

I grew up on a farm at Windsor, north of Adelaide, and graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Natural Resource Management in 1994. My first biosecurity role was with the CSIRO assisting with rabbit calicivirus. I have worked for the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions for the last 27 years.

What does a typical day at the office look like for you?

Each day is unique. It can be working with external stakeholders to assess and review our fruit fly response, developing policy on how best to manage pests, or representing South Australia at various national biosecurity meetings.

What motivates you to continue doing the work you do?

A common theme across all of my teams is the need to engage with communities, industry, and other stakeholders. Whether we’re chasing fruit fly, phylloxera, camels, weeds, dingoes or goats, it’s all about engaging with people and I enjoy doing that.

What is your vision for the future of the fruit fly system in Australia?

My vision is to have a contemporary and agreed set of procedures for the management of fruit fly across Australia, whether that be in areas where the pest is present or in Pest Free Areas, where all stakeholders understand and value the benefits of implementing control measures.

What are your hobbies or what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my spare time I like to do a bit of ‘twitching’ (bird watching). It’s a fairly peaceful and relaxing way to spend time when away from work.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

At school I focused on music and the performing arts and I still enjoy playing the piano but seem to be slowly getting more and more rusty with time.