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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007   
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Contents >> International Relations >> Role of DFAT in Australia's international relations

ROLE OF DFAT IN AUSTRALIA'S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is the principal source of advice to the Australian Government on foreign and trade policy issues and is responsible for implementing the Government’s foreign and trade policies. The Department works to achieve four primary outcomes to advance the interests of Australia and Australians internationally:

  • Australia’s national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance, and global cooperation;
  • Australians informed about and provided access to consular and passport services in Australia and overseas;
  • public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australia’s foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally; and
  • efficient management of the Commonwealth overseas-owned estate.

SERVICES TO THE AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY

Consular 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 173 points of consular service worldwide), 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 5 million Australians who travelled overseas in 2005-06, the Department provided significant consular assistance to 15,882 of them. The Department’s smartraveller campaign promotes safe overseas travel by Australians. In 2005-06 DFAT issued travel advice updates for 152 destinations on the web site at <http://www.smartraveller.gov.au>.

Passport services

The Department provides secure travel documents to eligible Australians in accordance with the Australian Passports Act 2005 (Cwlth). In 2005-06 the Department issued 1,259,692 passports - compared with 1,260,831 the previous year. On 24 October 2005 the Department introduced the ePassport. This passport has a microchip embedded in its centre pages and uses sophisticated facial recognition technology to improve identity verification processes and fraud detection. The ePassport represents a significant step forward in travel document security, helping to protect Australian travellers and the Australian community from identity-related fraud. Of the passports issued in 2005-06, 822,781 were ePassports.

Public information services

DFAT provides a range of information services on foreign and trade policy to the Australian public and media, including through briefings and public presentations and the production of public affairs material such as brochures, reports and publications. Links to the Department’s recent publications are at <http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/>. Through targeted public diplomacy programs managed by Australia’s overseas missions, the department promotes an accurate and contemporary image of Australia internationally and a clearer understanding of Australia’s foreign and trade policies and strategies. In 2005 Australia showcased its reputation as a leading business, tourism and education destination through its participation in the World Expo in Aichi, Japan. 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 in Newcastle and 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/annual_reports>.

LOCATION AND NUMBER OF DFAT STAFF

The Department currently employs 2,040 Australia-based staff, of whom around 25% are posted overseas; an additional 1,449 locally-engaged staff are employed by the Department’s overseas missions (graphs 3.1 and 3.2).

3.1 LOCATION AND NUMBER OF DFAT STAFF - 30 June 2006

3.2 LOCATION OF AUSTRALIA-BASED DFAT STAFF POSTED OVERSEAS - 30 June 2006

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