Annual Report 2003-2004
 

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OUTPUT 3.1: Public information services and public diplomacy

Output 3.1 Quality and quantity information

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Satisfaction with public diplomacy

Mr Downer commented favourably on the special publication produced to mark the first anniversary of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), as did the Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Kemekeza. We also received positive feedback on the booklet from the RAMSI Special Coordinator and principals of Australian agencies involved in the mission.

Mr Downer also responded positively to the development and design of a logo to commemorate the thirtieth Anniversary of Australia's dialogue partnership with ASEAN. The logo was part of a series of initiatives to commemorate the anniversary during 2004. Mr Downer endorsed another of the activities for this anniversary, presiding over the launch of the publication, ASEAN & Australia—celebrating 30 years, at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta.

The Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), Mr Russell Balding, acknowledged in a letter to the Secretary the cooperation between the department and the ABC and thanked the department for its assistance in the ABC's efforts to expand the reach of its international services.

The International Media Visits program was effective in projecting a positive image of Australia. The feedback from participants, our overseas posts and external clients was uniformly positive, with some media visitors commenting that the program was the best in which they had participated. Senior media representatives from India, Malaysia, Mexico and the United States all commented favourably on the program.

Mr Tony Butcher, Media Manager, Study Adelaide, described an international education writers' tour to promote educational opportunities in South Australia as 'an outstanding success'.

Visitors coming to Australia under the Department's Cultural Awards Scheme spoke highly of the program and the opportunity it provided to raise awareness of Australia's rich cultural assets. Some significant outcomes from individual Cultural Awards Scheme visits during 2003–04 included:

Considerable positive feedback about the department's website was submitted by users via the site's feedback page. Users commented favourably on the new design of the home page, the site's content and its accessibility. The small amount of negative feedback received was related mainly to technical problems with the site, and was resolved quickly.

Publications

The department's publication Iraq—The path ahead attracted positive feedback from several foreign governments, including their representatives based in Australia.

Both Combating terrorism in the transport sector: Economic costs and benefits and South-South Trade Winning from Liberalisation attracted considerable media interest, including local and international media attention. Economics editor Ross Gittins ran a feature on the South-South report in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. The Prime Minister quoted the findings of the Combating terrorism report in his 23 June speech to the Business–Government Forum on National Security. The Department of Transport and Regional Services asked for 200 copies of the Combating terrorism report for distribution at the APEC Transport Minister's meeting. Singapore's Business Times ran a page-one story based on the report.

The Market Information and Analysis section produces a set of ten trade statistical publications each year. These publications are widely used and well regarded by a range of client groups such as business, other government departments (both federal and state), and educational institutes. A survey of users conducted during 2003–04 indicated a high level of satisfaction with these publications. Some comments given in the feedback from the survey included 'data from the department has been excellent and easy to use', 'excellent publications' and 'very satisfied with the format and presentation of trade information'.

Freedom of Information requests

Of the 68 Freedom of Information requests processed, 59 were not subject to review and appeal.

Quantity information for output 3.1

Indicators 2003–04 2002–03
Number of Australian performing groups, artists, exhibitors and other cultural visitors supported 1 634 1 616
Number of public briefings given by departmental staff in Australia and overseas 1 985 2 517
Number of other public diplomacy/cultural activities organised 1 463 1 608
Number of media-related inquiries handled by the media liaison section1 6 700 15 250
Number of visits organised under:
International Media Program 41 42
Special Visits Program 32 31
Cultural Awards Scheme 15 21
Number of publications produced and number of copies distributed2 473 419
Number of statistical services provided to external clients 8 587 8 805
Number of treaties maintained on, and added to, the international treaties database3 2 677 2 659
Number of Freedom of Information requests processed 68 63
Number of records assessed for international relations sensitivities before release under the Archives Act 1983 and number of completed requests for archival information4 674 824

1 This figure reflects a return to more normal levels after 15 000 information requests in 2002–03, relating mostly to the Bali bombings and associated consular matters.

2 The department continues to distribute a substantial number of publications in hard copy form. However, given our increasing use of the website to disseminate publications—including to our overseas posts—the quantity of hard copy documents distributed has become a less meaningful indicator.

3 For information on treaties, see the Australian Treaties Database at www.info.dfat.gov.au/treaties.

4 The figure reflects the variability of public requests for access to departmental records and a lower number of such requests in 2003–04.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2003–2004
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