Department of Foreign affairs and Trade (DFAT) http://www.dfat.gov.au
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides help to Australians who find themselves in trouble overseas. Through this support, known as consular services, the Department's consular officers provide a lifeline to Australians who are away from home.
The Australian Government will do what it is able to help Australians in difficulties overseas. Whether this is helping Australian victims and survivors of a terrorist bombing, assisting Australians to repatriate the body of a loved one from overseas, or providing comfort and advice for a young Australian in an overseas prison, our consular staff often help Australians through the worst days of their lives.
But Australians need to appreciate that, when they go abroad, they leave behind Australia's support systems, emergency service capabilities and medical facilities. There are legal and practical limits as to what consular officers can do for travellers overseas and Australians need to have realistic expectations.
Australians are now making over 4.7 million overseas trips each year, compared to 3.4 million three years ago. In the last year alone, the Department assisted over 25,000 Australians in difficulty in over 152 countries and handled over 350,000 public inquiries.
The Australian Government cannot decide for Australians where to travel and how to behave when they get overseas. Australians are intrepid travellers and are going in ever greater numbers to out-of-the way, sometimes dangerous places. These are personal choices which the government respects. But, Australians need to accept responsibility to minimise risks to themselves. Consular functions are governed by international agreements and the Australian Government cannot impose Australia's laws, rules or standards on other countries.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer outlined what consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians overseas in his 8 November 2005 National Press Club Address: Hurricanes, Terrorism and Drugs Charges: A day in the life of Australians overseas.