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Australia issues biosecurity alert for international mail and packages ahead of Rakhi

Australian authorities have issued a warning to people expecting Rakhi gifts from overseas to ensure that the contents comply with the strict biosecurity norms. Source: Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has issued a warning to families expecting gifts and delicacies from overseas to ensure their relatives are aware of Australia’s ‘strict’ biodiversity laws ahead of the Indian festival of Rakhi or Rakhri on 22 August.

The Department of Agriculture claims that a vast majority of the gift items are usually intercepted ahead of religious and culturally significant events and festivals that are celebrated by people living in Australia with their loved ones around the globe.

One such occasion is the festival of Rakhi also known as Rakhri or Raksha Bandhan - an annual tradition celebrated largely in the Indian subcontinent that involves sisters tying a traditional thread (a rakhi) around their brother’s wrist for ritual protection, which is often combined with the siblings exchanging gifts and delicacies.


Highlights:

  • Australia issues warning to families expecting gifts and delicacies ahead of Rakhri
  • Families must inform their relatives that some articles cannot be mailed to Australia
  • "There is an increased risk of items of biosecurity concern arriving through the mail ahead of Rakhri"

In an interview with SBS Punjabi, Rajbir Singh, an officer with the Department of Agriculture said that families expecting gifts or delicacies this year must be aware of the country's biosecurity norms before they receive any such gifts that may be classified as prohibited goods.

"This will help ensure gifts and delicacies arrive on time. You will also be helping safeguard Australia from a range of deadly biosecurity pest and disease risks," he said.

Mr Singh said all items containing biosecurity risk are assessed by the Department’s officers using X-rays, detector dogs and manual inspection. And articles that are deemed risky or classified as prohibited goods are either exported back to the sender or in some cases, even destroyed.

Here’s a list of Rakhi gifts that CAN’T be mailed into Australia:

• Rakhi threads made with seeds or flowers

• Traditional Indian sweets (mithai) which contain milk, such as barfi, mysore pak, gulab jamun, rasgulla, pedas or soan-papdi

• Grains and dried fruits.

Here’s a list of Rakhi gifts that CAN be mailed into Australia:

• Cotton Rakhi threads with plastic, fabric, gold or silver beads

• Gold or silver coins

• Personalised photo items

• Artificial flowers.

Similar warnings are also sounded by the Department ahead of Diwali, Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to the interview in Punjabi.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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