The Consular State of Play is 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 11.2 million overseas trips in 2018-19, an increase of 5 per cent from last year and 20.4 percent 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 2018-19, Australian consular officers managed over 13,715 cases. These included:
- 1572 arrests
- 1506 hospitalisations
- 4957 whereabouts inquiries
- 1695 deaths; and
- 268 assaults.
Overall, these numbers are up slightly from the previous year, however the increase is less significant when crisis cases are excluded. When considered in the context of the increasing number of departures for overseas trips, this indicates many travellers are doing the right thing: being informed and prepared.
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 2019 Australian Travel Insurance Behaviour survey, commissioned by DFAT and Understand Insurance, revealed that 10% of travellers had no travel insurance and 87% were attracted to destinations with risk factors, such as places that feel adventurous or 'off the beaten track'. 53% were not aware that travel insurance policies may not cover Level 3 or 4 destinations.
All Australians planning overseas travel to explore 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.