​Media Release

Be biosecurity aware this Rakhi

18 August 2015 

As Rakhi fast approaches, Australians and overseas relatives are reminded to be careful when selecting, bringing or sending gifts from overseas, as some items could unintentionally harbour harmful pests and diseases. 

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said Rakhi was a peak period for biosecurity officers at our airports and mail centres.  

"The Hindu festival Rakhi, which this year falls on Saturday 29 August, is widely celebrated in Australia, with the relationship between brothers and sisters recognised through the exchange of traditional gifts such as colourful threads and traditional sweets," Minister Joyce said. 

"These gifts from overseas family and friends, if containing plant or animal material, could accidentally introduce some of the world's most serious pests and diseases into Australia. 

"Exotic pests and diseases have the potential to devastate our $51 billion agricultural industries as well as our economy and unique environment. 

"That's why we need your help to protect Australia by making sure Rakhi gifts arriving from overseas are ones that do not pose a biosecurity risk." 

Gifts containing animal or plant material that may pose a biosecurity risk include Rakhi threads made with seeds or flowers, dried fruit and traditional Indian sweets (mithai) which contain milk, such as barfi, gulab jamun, rasgulla, and soan-papdi. 

Safe items that family and friends can send during this festive period include cotton Rakhi threads with plastic, fabric, gold or silver beads and coins, personalised photo items and artificial flowers. 

"Tens of thousands of festival gifts are sent through the post each year, and by educating your family and friends overseas about our requirements, you'll not only reduce the chance of gifts being intercepted, but also protect Australia from harmful exotic pests and diseases," Minister Joyce said. 

"It's an important celebration for many Australians, and we need your help to make sure Rakhi can be celebrated safely while managing the risk to Australia's plant and animal health." 

More information on what can and can't be sent to Australia is available at the Department of Agriculture website.