All Fellows were provided with a comprehensive information pack for their entire 5 week stay, as well as provided with a prepaid credit card for their travel allowance and an economical Australian mobile phone with photo, video, and wifi hotspot capability. During the first week of biosecurity and market access negotiation training we slowly got used to using the new tools, the beginning of the 3 week placements in Australian host organisations marked the real test of the new tools and the WhatsApp network.
Placements in Australian host organisations that addressed the specific needs identified by the National Plant Protection Organisations and the individual Fellows. This included placements with Plant Health Australia; New South Wales Department of Primary Industries; Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions; Murdoch University; Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries and Resources; CSIRO; AusVeg and AgriBio. The 19 Fellows of the program were placed across 5 states and 7 cities.
Each week the Fellows had reporting assignments where they reflected on the activities they had completed throughout the week, how this learning could be applied in their own organisations, and also how the learning might address the specific problems they identified in their application forms. The reporting was all completed through google form surveys distributed through the WhatsApp network. Using this method for reporting meant that Fellows could update their homework while they were completing operational activities in the field, or they could link to their laptops via “web.whatsapp.com” and write more detailed summaries while in the office. The project team can see the reports being completed instantly, google forms automatically completes basic analysis on the data, and the project team can make adjustments with their host placements if necessary.