Update from Department of Health
The State Health Emergency Coordination Centre (SHECC) has moved to stand down in relation to the response to this incident. However, it is continuing to monitor incidents through daily reports.
For your information, SHECC is a control centre incorporating a number of high level government agencies working collaboratively to respond to and investigate major food safety incursions.
Update from Queensland Police
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) is continuing to conduct an extensive investigation, Operation 'Quebec Rosella,' focusing on the deliberate contamination of Queensland strawberries. The QPS is working collaboratively with government agencies, including State law enforcement agencies across Australia to minimise the risk of harm to the community, and identify person/s responsible for committing these criminal acts. Investigations continue to focus on all aspects of the supply and distribution networks, from farm to retail sector.
The Queensland Government has posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of person or persons responsible for the contamination. Police have received a very good response from those within the community impacted by these incidents and continue to work through a significant volume of information.
The QPS thanks strawberry growers for their continued assistance and cooperation with this challenging investigation.
Back to Market Working Group
The Back to Market Working Group has been formed to provide a forum for discussion between the Queensland Strawberry Industry and the Queensland Government. The group will progress issues relating to the contamination of fresh strawberries including:
Immediate steps that can be taken to restore consumer confidence and support the industry in getting back to market
Intermediate to long-term measures that may be necessary to improve supply chain integrity and secure market access and confidence
Providing a mechanism to feed information back into the broader government investigation into the contamination, and response in relation to food safety processes.
In particular, the working group provides the framework for a partnership approach to determine the allocation of support funding provided by the Queensland Government. The group is comprised of strawberry growers, DAF staff, market agents, Growcom representatives and a crisis management consultant.
The group held its first meeting/teleconference on 25th September. At this meeting, there was an agreement on the key breakdown of the $1million commitment to the strawberry industry from the Queensland Government:
$600,000 to restore consumer confidence through a targeted campaign
$250,000 for a supply chain integrity study for horticulture
$150,000 for QSGA and Growcom to assist with industry response.
The second meeting of the Back to Market Working Group was held on 3rd October 2018. The group was provided with an overview of the current media situation, the community response to the crisis and what progress had been made in regards to the Qld Government funding since the previous meeting.
A key item on the agenda for the second meeting was discussion around the development of the four pillars for the Qld Government funding, and additional funding as a result of community support. Following is a breakdown of the four pillars:
1. Communications and marketing to address consumer confidence
Develop 12 month communications and marketing plan with local, state and national focus. To include international communication opportunities to address export
Scope consultancy pitches for: media/PR, social media, other marketing
Ensure linkages with other national communication and marketing activities including those that address export markets (Federal, other states etc).
2. Supply chain integrity
Contract crisis management specialist to review the incident and response (inc. Govt, media, QSGA) and make recommendations
Contract supply chain expertise to work with wholesale and retail representatives at a state and national level to build better accountability and integrity post farm gate
Ensure coordination with Federal Department of Agriculture, Hort Innovation, and other state organisations.
3. Industry development and capacity
Employ an Industry Recovery Officer (IRO)
Conduct strawberry industry advocacy and communications
Provide administrative and project support for IDO.
4. Community support donations
Each of these pillars requires a sub-action group to ensure that they meet industry and government needs. If you are interested in being involved in any of these sub-action groups and have your say in the implementation of strategic activities, please contact Jen Rowling on 0438 752 177 or email email@example.com .
In addition to the $1 million Queensland Government support package, the Federal Government has also announced its support. The QSGA is working with both Queensland and the Federal Government to ascertain details and ensure that they complement each other, meeting our industries needs without duplication.
Industry Recovery Officer appointed
As part of the State Government funding package, Growcom, in collaboration with the QSGA, have appointed an Industry Recovery Officer. Lana Baskerville will be contacting and visiting strawberry growers in the coming weeks and months to find out how the crisis has affected each of you, and provide information on support and financial assistance opportunities. She will also be collecting information to ensure that the programs and communications rolled out are in the best interests of growers and of the strawberry industry as a whole. Further information about Lana and her plans for farm visits will be distributed in due course, and she will be attending upcoming grower meetings where possible (see meeting list below).
Grower meetings to update everyone on the current situation have been planned as follows:
Bundaberg: Friday, 12th October, BFVG Boardroom from 11am
Stanthorpe: Wednesday, 17th October, Queensland College of Wine Tourism from 4.30pm
Beerwah: Tuesday, 23rd October, Beerwah Golf Club from 7pm
For further information, please contact Sub-tropical Industry Development Officer, Jen Rowling on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0438 752 177.