Even though Australia is known as one of the top five countries in the world in terms of biosecurity outcomes, Vivek quickly realised the Australian biosecurity system is not perfect. During his PhD journey Vivek found a significant gap in biosecurity management in peri-urban areas. These are areas which are neither fully agricultural nor urban in nature.
Vivek notes ‘these areas are often an interesting mix of two distinct dialogues and attitudes. On the one hand you have people who are experienced farmers and producers. Then next door you may have a family who have always lived in cities or residential areas. In these instances the perceptions of landholders can be completely different.’ For example one land holder may be fully aware that rabbits are a serious environmental pest. On the other hand, perhaps their neighbours’ only exposure to rabbits is the Story of Peter Rabbit or the Easter Bunny!!
In his thesis Vivek argues that the even though the scientific and technological knowledge is available relating to biosecurity, the institutional backing is not strong. He notes ‘as Australia is one of the world’s leaders in terms of biodiversity outcomes this is something that needs to be rectified. Australia needs to set the best possible example for the rest of the world.’
Before starting his PhD at UNE Vivek’s research focused on investigating legal and institutional issues relevant to preventative/at border biosecurity regulations in the United States. Biosecurity law and policy efforts rest on the ‘biosecurity continuum’ that include: pre-border, at border and post-border biosecurity. The outcomes of the research Vivek conducted in Australia provided a new perspective on environmental/post-border biosecurity issues.
Vivek interviewed biosecurity experts throughout Australia in order to help formulate solutions to these problems. He was supported by his supervisor Professor Paul Martin, Professor Darryl Low Choy, stakeholders from the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions and the other staff and students from the UNE Law School. He also received significant assistance from the staff in the Law Library. Interestingly, Vivek learnt a lot about the Australian legal system from simply sitting in the tea room at lunch times with other law school staff. When he wasn’t comparing notes about his favourite sporting teams with his law school colleagues, he soaked up an insightful glimpse into the Australian legal landscape!
Vivek’s PhD thesis has been highly acclaimed. He won both the Bob Hughes Prize for Law in 2017 and is about to be presented with the Chancellor’s Doctoral Research Award.
He is currently working on some further research projects with the Australasian Centre for Agriculture and Law. In addition Vivek will be discussing the outcomes of his research during the 2019 Australian Biosecurity Symposium with an objective of obtaining views from experts on ‘implementation’.
Congratulations Dr Nemane!