SERVICES TO THE AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITYPublic information services
DFAT provides consular services to Australians travelling overseas and their families in Australia through its network of overseas missions and honorary consulates (consisting of 160 points of consular service world-wide), the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra and consular cooperation arrangements with other countries. Consular services include: assisting Australians who are hospitalised, imprisoned, or require welfare assistance overseas; helping family members when Australian travellers go missing or die overseas; and coordinating responses to overseas emergencies affecting Australian nationals. Of the 6,009,033 Australians who travelled overseas in 2008-09, DFAT provided consular assistance to 35,539 people, including in several major international crises, the largest of which was the Lebanon conflict. DFAT’s Smartraveller campaign continued to promote safe overseas travel by Australians. In 2008-09 DFAT issued travel advice updates for 167 destinations on the website at <http://www.smartraveller.gov.au>. The site received over 26,597,000 page views in 2008-09.
DFAT provides secure travel documents to eligible Australians in accordance with the Australian Passports Act 2005 (Cwlth). The department issued 1,524,945 passports in 2008-09 (compared with 1,531,445 in 2007-08) of which 12 per cent were issued under priority processing arrangements. The average turnaround time for passport issue was 5.1 days.
In May 2009, the department launched a new generation of ePassport, the N series, Australia’s most secure and visually sophisticated travel document to date. As at mid-2009, 5 million ePassports and a total of almost 10 million valid passports (both electronic and standard machine readable) were in circulation.
DFAT delivers passport services through its network of passport offices in nine cities around Australia, diplomatic and consular missions overseas, a call centre (the Australian Passport Information Service) and around 1700 Australia Post outlets contracted to receive passport applications on the department’s behalf.
The department contributes to international and inter-governmental efforts to promote security of identity, travel documents and borders. As a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Australia works productively with other countries to develop technical standards for travel documents.
DFAT provides a range of information services on foreign and trade policy to the Australian public and media, including through briefings, public presentations and the production of public affairs material such as brochures, reports and publications. Links to the Department’s recent publications can be found on the Department’s website.Through public advocacy and cultural diplomacy programs managed within DFAT and by Australia’s overseas missions, DFAT promotes an accurate and contemporary image of Australia internationally and a clearer understanding of Australia’s foreign and trade policies and strategies. These programs are based on whole-of-government objectives, implemented by posts and supported by biannual inter-agency meetings held in Canberra (with representatives from 18 federal agencies). DFAT manages the contract for the Australia Network international television service with a footprint covering 44 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Detailed information about Australia’s foreign and trade policies can be obtained from the department’s website at <http://www.dfat.gov.au
Network of Australian diplomatic and consular missions overseas
DFAT manages an extensive network of Australian diplomatic and consular missions abroad, supporting Australia’s international interests and providing consular and passport services. The Department’s central office is in Canberra and it maintains offices in all other state and territory capitals, as well as a passport office in Newcastle and a liaison office on Thursday Island. Information on the location of overseas embassies, high commissions, consulates and multilateral missions managed by DFAT can be found in the on-line version of the Department’s annual report at <http://www.dfat.gov.au/dept/annual_reports
Location and number of DFAT staff
As at 30 June 2009, the Department employed 2,226 Australia-based staff, of whom around 24 per cent were posted overseas; an additional 1,577 locally-engaged staff (LES) were employed by the Department’s overseas missions (graphs 5.1 and 5.2).
5.1 Location and number of DFAT staff -
30 June 2009
5.2 Location of Australia-based DFAT staff posted overseas -
30 June 2009