The Federal Government has announced a $770,000 international training program in Indonesia and Timor-Leste aimed at boosting biosecurity capability against exotic diseases, including foot-and-mouth and lumpy skin. Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt announced the funding — part of $14 million allocated in last year’s budget — on Thursday, which is aimed at protecting Australia’s agriculture industry. Senator Watt said the new program was part of a broader agenda to invest in regional biosecurity, including closer collaboration and cooperation with Australia’s nearest neighbours. “Australia is free from FMD and LSD and we are determined to keep it that way,” he said. “Helping our friends and neighbours detect and manage their risk to these exotic diseases helps us protect our vital agricultural sector.” Senator Watt said the funding would create and deliver country-specific “train the trainer” programs in both countries. The program, being launched this month, will be run by NSW-based Charles Sturt University through the Biosecurity Training Centre — a partnership between CSU and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. CSU and DAFF have been working closely with animal and plant quarantine colleagues in Timor-Leste and Indonesia to determine gaps in their capacity to detect and mitigate the risk of exotic disease entering through regulated pathways, Senator Watt said. He said Indonesian participants would receive training in the practical implementation of international best practice approaches to biosecurity. “Australia has a long history of biosecurity collaboration with Indonesia and Timor-Leste, and we have ramped up our work together since May 2022 following the detection of FMD in Indonesia,” Senator Watt said. “This program will provide vital support to Indonesia’s efforts to control the FMD and LSD outbreaks there, while assisting Timor-Leste’s to prevent and prepare for an incursion.” Areas covered will include import risk analysis, border clearance processes, on shore management, disinfection treatments, and specific risk management associated with high priority transboundary plant pests and animal diseases. “The existing skills of the Timorese delegates will be expanded with a focus on key animal and plant pests and diseases that are important in the Timor-Leste setting,” a DAFF spokesman said. “The key focus will be mitigating the risk of FMD, which is currently not present in Timor-Leste, through border inspection techniques.” The Albanese Government allocated a total $134m in biosecurity funding in last year’s budget, with Australia paying for four million doses of FMD vaccines for Indonesia among other measures. Australia has also donated 435,000 doses of LSD vaccines to Indonesia and pledged to provide a further one million doses.