Annual Report 2006-2007

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1. Overviews2. Performance3. Corporate4. Appendixes5. Financials6. Glossaries and Compliance Index

Your location: Performance > Outcome 2 > Output 2.1 > Output 2.1 Quality and quantity information

OUTPUT 2.1: Consular and passport services

Output 2.1 Quality and quantity information

2.1.1 Consular services

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Satisfaction of the public and the travel industry

In 2006–07, the department received 553 letters and emails from the public on consular issues. Of these, 279 commented positively on services provided in specific consular cases, on the department’s smartraveller services and on the department’s leadership of the Lebanon evacuation and repatriation operation. Only 21 expressed dissatisfaction about elements of the department’s consular service. The remaining letters simply sought consular information.

Despite improvements made during 2006–07 to the smartraveller website, most complaints related to aspects of the website, including difficulty in using the online registration service. In 2007–08, the department will further update the smartraveller website to make registering travel details online easier.

A small proportion of negative correspondence expressed concern about staff attitudes and service received, as well as the accuracy of advice provided by smartraveller and the department’s consular information publications. All complaints were investigated in a timely manner and, where warranted, corrective action was taken.

The continuing support for the Charter for Safe Travel—membership of which grew from 2550 at 30 June 2006 to 2598 at 30 June 2007–reflected the travel industry’s satisfaction with the quality of the department’s information and services to travellers. Members of the public and the travel industry expressed appreciation for the department’s consular services at travel expos and travel industry events at which the department was represented.

Crisis management procedures in place and tested

In 2006–07, the department applied expanded crisis management infrastructure, systems and procedures during a series of crises and significant consular incidents that directly affected the welfare of Australians overseas.

The department activated its Crisis Centre and led multi-agency Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) for four significant consular incidents:

The department also applied its crisis management capabilities during:

Client satisfaction with contingency planning

Contingency plans were a crucial tool in responding to consular crises in 2006–07. In the case of the Lebanon operation, planning information for Beirut was vital in guiding the departure arrangements for the large number of Australian evacuees.

Australian Defence Force personnel appreciated the focused consular perspectives which the department’s officers provided in jointly leading Contingency Planning Assessment Team (CPAT) visits to regions with a higher risk of significant consular incidents.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs and other agencies organising the Anzac Day commemorations in Turkey expressed satisfaction with contingency planning developed by the department for Anzac Day 2007. Cricket Australia was complimentary of the department’s contingency planning for the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.

Response time to consular issues

Our capacity to respond rapidly to consular issues was underpinned by:

The department’s responsiveness to consular events was further complemented by the smartraveller travel advice subscription service. This allowed new or updated travel advisories and bulletins to be published on and emailed to subscribers simultaneously.

Quantity information for output 2.1: consular services
Indicator 2006–07 2005–06
Number of Australians assisted overseas:
Consular cases1 33 927 17 505
Public inquiries2 304 888 346 976
Notarial acts performed3 135 347 115 418
Travel advice notices issued 872 499
Number of unexpected events or crises handled by the department 16 35
Number of associated Emergency Task Force meetings held 41 26
Duration of Crisis Centre operations 59 days 27 days

1 These statistics refer to inquiries about actual cases at posts and do not include general inquiries on non-case-related consular matters (eg travel advice). These are reported under public inquiries.
2 Public inquiries include inquiries on non-case-related matters made at overseas posts and through the 1300 and 1800 call numbers in Australia.
3 These figures include notarial acts performed at overseas posts, in Canberra and in state and territory offices.

2.1.2 Passport services

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Satisfaction of the public and the travel industry

General feedback from passport clients, together with a low level of passport-related ministerial correspondence indicated continuing public satisfaction with passport services. The introduction of an interview appointment system reduced waiting times and was well received by clients. We also received positive feedback from the travel industry following our attendance at eight travel expositions around Australia. The priority passport processing service continued to be popular with 158 721 applicants paying a fee to have their passports issued within 48 hours. This compared with 165 257 priority applicants in the previous year.

Turnaround time for passport issue

During 2006–07, 99.3 per cent of normal passport applications were processed within our client service commitment of 10 working days despite the surge in the application rate during the second half of the year. The average turnaround time was 4.0 days. This compared with 98.5 per cent and an average of 4.1 days respectively in the previous year. Of those clients who paid the priority processing fee, 99.4 per cent received their travel document within 48 hours. Fees were refunded to 13 applicants where the 48-hour turnaround was not met.

Quantity information for output 2.1: passport services
Indicator 2006–07 2005–06
Number of passport inquiries handled by the Australian Passport Information Service 1 447 960 1 281 105
Number of travel documents issued, including urgent issues1 1 367 602 1 259 692

1 Travel documents include passports, documents of identity, certificates of identity and convention travel documents.

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