In July 2019, DFA CEO Mick Goodwin wrote to newly elected Federal Member for Cowpewr, Mr Pat Conaghan, highlighting the need for an Australian Standard for Security and Detection Dogs.
Dear Mr Conaghan,
Unlike Australia, privately contracted detection dogs are widely used in jurisdictions such as the UK, Europe and USA to provide end users with a reliable service where K9 Law Enforcement Agency resources can’t meet demand of private requests for detection dog services. The success of privately contracted detection dog services in these international jurisdictions is reliant on the fact that they have all developed and adopted National Standards for use and deployment of security and detection dogs by private contractors.
In Australia there is currently NO Standard for the use of Security and Detection Dogs. Despite this, both security and detection dogs are increasingly being contracted by end users to meet the rising demand for explosive clearances at entertainment and sporting venues, passenger terminals and ports, and to to assist in the detection of biosecurity and conservation risks.
Private contractors are regularly providing both security and detection dog services to the private sector and government clients using dogs and handlers that have NO documented competency based training or accreditation other than that deemed appropriate by the individual contractor providing the service.
Following the Manchester bombing, Explosive Detection Dog venue clearance requests from international sporting and entertainment artists has increased dramatically. While some Australian state jurisdictions have the canine law enforcement resources to accommodate these types of requests – other state jurisdictions with limited resources do not. Where law enforcement resources are not available in a particular jurisdiction – there is an increased reliance on privately contracted security and detection dog services to fill the void.
When considering examples of international best practice in countries such as the UK, USA and Europe – competency based standards have been successfully developed through industry and stakeholder consultation. Privately contracted security and detection dogs are now widely used in these international jurisdictions because end users and government regulators can rely on the dogs and handlers having met robust competency based training and accreditation standards.
Dog Force Australia currently has an application before Standards Australia to develop an Australian Standard for Security and Detection Dogs. Standards Australia is Australia’s most forthright organisation responsible for facilitating the development of Australian Standards for industry. Our primary aim is to bring Australia into parity with international best practice so that the security industry might be able to play a responsible role in future risk management strategies – either to service the current demand of the private sector – or to support under resourced law enforcement agencies as is the case in international jurisdictions.
Given all of the above would be of some interest to the Department of Home Affairs, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the possibility of presenting the above in the most appropriate way to the Minister.
At present Australia is a long way behind our international partners in target hardening our community from the threat of terrorism. Our proposal is entirely motivated by nothing other than to ensure Australia can replicate the industry standards that has been achieved by international jurisdictions.
As a result of the above letter. I met with Mr Conaghan to further discuss the issue. Mr Conaghan, a former NSW Police Officer, agreed the issue warranted further attention and agreed to forward the matter for the consideration at the Parliamentary Joint Law Enforcement Committee (JLEC) on which he is a representative.
DFA’s proposal for the development of an Australian Standard for Security and Detection Dogs was considered by the JLEC in October 2019 a Parliamentary Inquiry into the development of an Australian Standard for the training and use of privately contracted security and detection dogs was established.
Written submissions were called for with a number of organisations contributing. The Inquiry has now moved to public hearings which were due to commence in March 2019, however have been postponed due to the Corona Virus situation.
Follow the progress of the inquiry by following this link;