Today I launch the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s three year Consular Strategy that will maintain Australia’s consular service as world’s best practice.
More Australians than ever are travelling overseas and the demand for consular services is high. Last year DFAT assisted nearly 15,000 Australians in difficulty overseas. Every day consular officers manage around 1300 cases.
The delivery of high quality consular services is one of the Government’s foreign policy priorities. Released with a revised DFAT Consular Services Charter, the new Consular Strategy will see changes aimed at maintaining the agility of Australia’s consular service in a changing world.
The Strategy emphasises priority to those Australians in the most difficult circumstances. It also emphasises there must be less latitude to the small minority who have unreasonable demands of consular assistance or whose actions are wilfully reckless.
Key reforms outlined in the Strategy include a more targeted outreach to those most likely to require consular assistance and stronger links to global consular partners to extend our reach and impact, as well as improved linkages to businesses and expatriate communities with safe travel messages.
The Strategy also hones long-standing consular messages such as the importance of being prepared for travel, being self-sufficient and responsible while away, and taking out travel insurance. The Strategy aims to prioritise more active messaging through social media, particularly during overseas crises.
Last year DFAT issued 877 travel advisory updates to 169 destinations. The Strategy outlines an enhanced Smartraveller website for travel advice.
The Strategy was developed following public consultation, including more than 50 submissions.
I encourage all Australian travellers to visit the Smartraveller website before any trip, and to familiarise themselves with the relaunched Consular Services Charter to understand what the Government can and can’t do if something goes wrong overseas.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555