Today I launched the 2017-18 Consular State of Play – a snapshot of the consular services provided to Australians overseas by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade during the year.
The safety and security of Australians is this government’s highest priority. This commitment extends to the millions of Australians who live or travel overseas.
Australian residents took more than 10.7 million overseas trips in 2017-18, an increase of 13 per cent over the past five years. The vast majority come home safely, but a small number need to ask the Government for help. When this happens, Australians can rely on our global network of highly professional and responsive consular officers.
In 2017-18, Australian consular officers managed over 11,800 cases. These included:
- 1540 arrests
- 1585 hospitalisations
- 2510 whereabouts inquiries
- 1671 deaths; and
- 269 assaults.
Overall, these numbers are down slightly on the previous year despite the increasing number of Australian working and living overseas, suggesting more Australians are taking the necessary precautions when leaving our shores.
However, there are limits to what the Government can do. Australians should be as prepared and self-reliant as possible for overseas travel. Key to this is getting the right travel insurance. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
The 2018 Australian Travel Insurance Behaviour survey, commissioned by DFAT and Understand Insurance, revealed that 11% of travellers had no travel insurance and 82% of under-30s undertook risky behaviour such as adventure sports, riding motorcycles and excessive consumption of alcohol.
I encourage all Australians planning overseas travel to visit the Smartraveller website and to read the Consular Services Charter which explains what the Government can and can’t do for them, if they find themselves a victim of misfortune.