Meeting Fit and Proper Person requirements
How to meet and maintain 'Fit and Proper Person' status required for biosecurity compliance
THE FIT AND PROPER PERSON (FPP) TEST
Under the Biosecurity Act (2015), responsibility for Australia’s national biosecurity is shared between the government, industry and individuals. As the introduction of exotic pests and diseases could have serious consequences for Australia, the government requires that all people carrying out biosecurity activities are fit and proper to do so. The Fit and Proper Person (FPP) test provides the government with a level of confidence that industry and individuals are meeting their biosecurity responsibilities.
WHO THE FPP TEST APPLIES TO
When assessing an application for a new biosecurity ‘Arrangement’ (referred to as an Approved Arrangement or AA once it is actually approved), the Department of Agriculture (DAg) must consider the FPP status of the applicant as well as all relevant associates of the applicant.
The applicant for a new AA must be a legal entity. Therefore, the University itself is the applicant, also referred to as the ‘Biosecurity Industry Participant’.
Of the applicant
As the person authorised by the University as being responsible for the compliant operation of an AA, the AA Manager is considered to be a relevant associate of the applicant.
Of the AA
Anyone in a position to control or influence the operation of an AA may be considered a relevant associate of the AA.
WHAT THE FPP TEST APPLIES TO
A declaration regarding the FPP status of the applicant needs to be made when applying for a new AA. The applicant also needs to confirm that reasonable enquiries (FPP test checks) have been made regarding the FPP status of any relevant associates.
The FPP declaration includes:
- the relevant criminal history of the applicant and relevant associates – in relation to breaches of Commonwealth law, particularly convictions relating to integrity and honesty
- any debts owed to the Commonwealth by the applicant or relevant associates, under the Biosecurity Act or other specified legislation
- whether the applicant or relevant associates have had arrangements or approvals suspended or revoked under the Biosecurity Act or other specified legislation
Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. The University or person making the declaration may be liable to a civil penalty for giving false or misleading information.
FPP TEST FORMS USED AT THE UNIVERSITY
The University uses two forms that have specific, legally defined questions to perform the FPP checking required. These forms are used to ensure that reasonable enquiries have been made and allow for an informed declaration to be made.
FPP checking process for Approved Arrangements
The AA Manager identifies all associates relevant to the operation of the AA site and checks their FPP status using the Biosecurity ‘Fit and Proper Person Test’ Checklist and Declaration Form. Associates relevant to the operation of the AA Site (biosecurity containment facility) will include:
- anyone handling/treating biosecurity controlled material or associated material including waste
- any personnel in a position to control or influence operations, i.e. managers and compliance personnel
- any engineering staff who are responsible for AA Site areas
These forms are reviewed once complete and then kept as a record that appropriate enquiries have been made. Access to these records is by authorised University and DAg personnel only. These records may be requested during compliance audits of AA sites.
AA Managers must ensure that the process used for performing FPP checks and ongoing review of FPP status for the AA is documented. This should describe who is considered to be a relevant associate and how FPP checking is conducted, as well as internal and external reporting requirements.
FPP checking process for the University
Once AA specific checks have been completed, the AA Manager completes the ‘FPP for UoM’ form and returns it to the Gene Technology and Biosafety Officer to review and retain as a compliance record. The Gene Technology and Biosafety Officer is also responsible for making reasonable enquiries regarding the University’s FPP status with regard to the FPP declaration.
MAINTAINING FPP STATUS
Under the general policies for AAs, there is a requirement for DAg to be notified in writing of any changes that may alter the FPP status of the University, AA Managers or relevant associates as soon as practicable and within 15 days of becoming aware of any change of circumstance. AA Managers or the AA Site Contact are responsible for this external reporting.
University internal FPP reporting requirement
To meet this requirement and to ensure that the University maintains its FPP status, in addition to reporting any relevant changes to DAg, AA Managers must also ensure that certain changes to the FPP status of their AA are reported to the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity.
AA Managers (or the AA Site Contact) must report the following key information:
- Any DAg-specified reportable events (biosecurity incidents or changes to AA management)
- AA site audit reports and correspondence related to follow-up corrective actions reported to DAg
- Any change in circumstances that may alter the FPP status of an AA Manager or relevant associate
All reports should be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.