Ahead of the festival, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services (AQIS) has urged the Indian community to be “quarantine aware” to avoid delays in the arrival of their rakhis and gifts. The quarantine alert is meant to keep Australia free from pests and diseases that could be detrimental to the Aussie environment.
A media release issued by the department of agriculture, fisheries and forestry says: “Quarantine items could include rakhi threads made with seeds of flowers, traditional Indian sweets made with milk such as barfi, gulab jamun, rasgullas, pedas, sonpapdis etc.”
Although these items are sent with genuine intentions, due to lack of awareness, well meaning family and friends could often send quarantine risk items. All international mail is assessed, X-rayed or checked by olfactory detector dogs. Suspicious packages, containing risk items, are opened and inspected, according to Caroline Martin, Program Manager, AQIS International Mail Program.
Due to the overwhelming volume of mail received, the lead up to Rakhi is the second busiest time of the year for AQIS. Last year, it processed more than 75,000 mail items associated with the festival. Though AQIS endeavours to keep processing delays to a minimum, often, it becomes difficult when risk items need further processing. This could be prevented if families and friends avoid sending quarantine risk items altogether.