Personal information collected by a new digital border pass for international travel will be passed on to the states and territories for contact tracing and other health reasons as the federal government looks to rely on the technology to remove a ban on Australians leaving the country.

The Digital Passenger Declaration will apply to all travelers entering the country and will be introduced within months after the international IT firm Accenture was awarded the tender, estimated to be about $75 million, to automate the process of entering the country.

The DPD will replace the physical Incoming Passenger Card and the digital COVID-19 Australian Travel Declaration form. It will collect personal information including passengers’ vaccination status up to 72 hours before boarding and provide the digital authority for vaccinated Australians to travel.

Passengers coming into Australia will be able to complete the DPD on their mobile device or computer.

The new digital pass will also be designed so it can pass on information to state and territory public health authorities for them to track people entering the jurisdiction and potentially use it for contact tracing. The technology could eventually also take in visas, import and export permits and licenses as well as other government services such as environmental and building permits.

It will also work alongside mobile applications that returned travelers will have to download to quarantine at home as the nation looks to move away from hotel quarantine. South Australia has already begun a home-based quarantine trial whereby people have to download the Home Quarantine SA app to access their testing schedule, complete daily symptom checks and confirm their location with regular check-ins.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the DPD would support the “safe reopening of the border at scale when supported by health advice” by providing digitally verified COVID-19 vaccination details.

“This will help us to welcome home increasing numbers of Australians and welcome the tourists, travelers, international students, skilled workers, and overseas friends and family we’ve all been missing during the pandemic,” she said.

Unlike the prospect of domestic vaccine certificates – which could be required for large-scale sporting events, nightclubs, and major tourist attractions and are opposed by a growing number of federal MPs – proof-of-vaccination requirements for international travel appear to be less contentious.

Read more of the article by Anthony Galloway – Sydney Morning Herald


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