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Annual Report 1999-2000Annual Report 1999-2000 home page

ContentsContents > Overviews > Outcome 1: National Interests > Outcome 2: Consular & Passports > Outcome 3: Public Diplomacy > Management > Financial Statements > Appendixes > Glossaries

YOU ARE CURRENTLY AT: Outcome 2 > Output 2.1 > Quality and Quantity information


Outcome 2: Australians informed about and provided access to consular and passport services in Australia and overseas

OUTPUT 2.1
Consular and passport services

OUTPUT 2.1 QUALITY & QUANTITY INFORMATION

QUALITY INDICATORS

  • Satisfaction including of the public and travel industry with consular and passport services and advice.
  • Turnaround time for passport issue, including urgent issues.
  • Response time to consular issues/crises.
  • Extent to which highly developed crisis management procedures are in place and tested.

QUALITY INDICATORS

  • Number of passport inquiries handled by the Australian Passport Information Service.
  • Number of travel documents issued, including urgent issues.
  • Number of Australians assisted overseas, including the number of public inquiries handled, notarial acts performed and travel advisories issued.
  • Number of unexpected events or crises handled by the department, number of associated departmental Emergency Task Force/Inter-departmental Emergency Task Force meetings held, and the duration of the Crisis Centre operations.

Satisfaction of the public and travel industry

Consular client feedback was strongly positive. Of the 260 client service questionnaires returned to the department, 82.5 per cent described the consular service provided as ‘excellent’; 16 per cent as ‘good or adequate’, 0.75 per cent as ‘unsatisfactory’ and 0.75 per cent as ‘very poor’. There were 81 unsolicited letters, of which 87 per cent praised the service provided and 13 per cent were critical. Positive letters generally highlighted the compassionate and efficient approach adopted by consular officers overseas in dealing with clients, while criticisms generally reflected perceptions of the level of assistance and accuracy of advice provided. In many cases criticisms reflected a common expectation that the department’s representatives can intervene overseas in legal and other processes which are entirely the provenance of other governments.

We followed up all cases of negative feedback directly with clients, explained the circumstances and, where appropriate, provided apologies.

A survey of a number of other countries demonstrated that our passport services remain very competitive, cost effective and innovative. Client satisfaction with the passport service remained high, with 93.3 per cent of the 4 751 clients surveyed expressing satisfaction with the quality of passport services. Against a background of over 1.1 million passports issued, a total of 798 substantive complaints, or 0.07 in percentage terms, were received throughout the year. The majority of these related to the quality of the photographic image in the passport and to difficulties experienced in contacting APIS. Each complaint was investigated and appropriate follow-up action taken.

Passport issue

Even though passport demand grew significantly, the average passport turnaround time achieved within Australia was 9.7 days, slightly better than the ten-day turn around time stipulated in the Passport Client Service Charter. Urgent applications now account for 8 per cent of passport business. A total of 77 per cent of such applications were processed in less than two days, with the majority being processed in one day.

Consular crises and crisis management

The department manages responses to crises through our Emergency Task Force and Inter-departmental Emergency Task Force.

We strengthened our capacity to deal with crises through the creation of a Crisis Management and Contingency Planning Section to coordinate contingency planning and the handling of crises and particularly complex consular cases.

The department’s Crisis Centre is the primary coordination mechanism for responses to crisis situations involving risk to Australian nationals. It is equipped with the full range of communications equipment to enable it to support the department’s responses. These arrangements have passed the test of many crises in recent years, but are examined carefully in the light of each crisis for scope for improvement.

These mechanisms are immediately brought into effect when critical situations arise. For example, we activated them on the day when the Fiji hostage-taking occurred. In the East Timor case, we held several task force meetings in anticipation of possible violence after the referendum, and opened the Crisis Centre on 5 September 1999. We were therefore well placed to manage, in conjunction with the Department of Defence, the subsequent evacuation from 6 September of Australian nationals, consulate staff and others.

Quantity information

Number of passport inquiries handled by the Australian Passport Information Service.

1 383 059

Number of travel documents issued, including urgent issues.

1 139 451

Number of Australians assisted overseas, including the number of public enquiries handled, notarial acts performed and travel advisories issued.1

66 386

Number of unexpected events or crises handled by the department.2

11

Number of departmental Emergency Task Force/Inter-departmental Emergency Task Force meetings held.

41

Duration of Crisis Centre operations.3

88 days

1 We provided consular assistance to 20 741 Australians in difficulty, and notarial services to a further 45 420 Australians. 225 travel advisories were issued in the 1999–2000 financial year.

2 This is defined as major consular crises and includes East Timor, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Y2K, Kashmir, Childers, Papua New Guinea, Interlaken, Indian Airlines hijacking, Zimbabwe and Eritrea.

3 The Crisis Centre was operational for a total of 88 days. This comprised East Timor (47 days), Fiji and the Solomon Islands (36 days) and Y2K (5 days).


YOU ARE CURRENTLY AT: Outcome 2 > Output 2.1 > Quality and Quantity information

Annual Report 1999-2000Annual Report 1999-2000 home page

ContentsContents > Overviews > Outcome 1: National Interests > Outcome 2: Consular & Passports > Outcome 3: Public Diplomacy > Management > Financial Statements > Appendixes > Glossaries

 

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