The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

FA043 - 9 May 2006

Overseas Consular and Crisis Response - Strengthening Assistance to Australians

The Australian Government's response to the Bali terrorist attacks and the tsunami and the assistance we provide to our citizens in distress overseas make us the benchmark against which other countries measure their consular services.  To ensure we continue to provide a world class consular service, the Australian Government has committed $80.2 million over four years to strengthen its capacity to help Australians overseas and improve its capability to respond to overseas emergencies.

Australians now make almost five million overseas trips every year, a 40 per cent rise over the last three years.  This increase has led to a similar rise over the same period in the number of complex consular cases which require intensive handling.  As Australians travel in greater numbers to more destinations, they are more exposed to the risk of terrorist attack, natural disasters and threats such as Avian Influenza.  In 2005, DFAT managed an unprecedented number of major overseas emergencies, including the Boxing Day tsunami, the London and Bali bombings, a kidnapping in Iraq and Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, deploying Emergency Response Teams a record four times in one year. 
Key elements of the Government's new Overseas Consular and Crisis Response package include:

This initiative will be partially offset by a nine per cent increase in the cost of Australian passports. 

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555