Annual Report 2004-2005
 

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Your location: Performance > Outcome 2 > Output 2.1 > Administered item for Outcome 2

OUTPUT 2.1: Consular and passport services

Administered item for Outcome 2

Travellers' emergency loans

Quality indicator

Quantity indicator

During 2004–05, the department granted 387 travellers emergency loans in accordance with the guidelines in our consular handbook, including loans made through the Prisoner Loans Scheme to 22 Australians imprisoned overseas. This compared to 454 loans granted in 2003–04 and 610 loans granted in 2002–03. The total value of the loans we issued was $228 882.

We issued fewer loans than in previous years due, in part, to Australians being better prepared—for example, by having insurance—and by continued rigorous analysis of client needs.

Decisions to issue emergency loans are made on a case-by-case basis, and only when it has been established that concern for a person's welfare warrants such assistance and that the person has no alternative means to access funds, including through family members in Australia.

In 2004–05, Australians issued with travellers emergency loans repaid a total of $59 082, compared to $76 333 in 2003–04. We issue emergency loans according to a traveller's need and not on their ability to repay. This affects the success of debt recovery efforts. The higher proportion of loans for repatriation, which are by nature more expensive than straightforward travellers emergency loans, also impacted on the sum of money we were able to recover. We used many means to encourage the repayment of loans, including by making a person's eligibility for a new passport subject to repayment of the loan.

Quantity information

Indicator 2004–05 2003–04
Number of Australian travellers assisted by emergency loans 387 454
Success of debt recovery activities $59 082 $76 333

Tsunami financial assistance

Quality indicator

Quantity indicator

In the wake of the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, an amount of $14.742 million was provided to the department in Administered Appropriations under Outcome 2 in the Por tfolio Supplementary Additional Estimates Statements (PSAES) 2004–05 for tsunami financial assistance. An amount of $173 000 was provided for financial assistance to affected Australians and $14.569 million was provided for the disaster victim identification process and the repatriation of the remains of Australian citizens and their personal effects. Financial assistance provided to Australians in tsunami-affected areas is treated as ex gratia.

The department engaged the services of Kenyon International, a disaster management company, to support the efforts of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) disaster victim identification (DVI) team on the ground in Phuket, Thailand and to arrange the repatriation of the remains of Australian victims.

Given the scale of disaster, including the fact that 15 000 Australians were initially reported as being present in tsunami-affected areas, the department needed to urgently establish a process to identify possible Australian victims. Because the remains of most Australian victims could not be distinguished from the remains of over 3800 victims, the department underwrote the overall logistical support provided by Kenyon International for the DVI process until 30 June 2005.

Of the over 3800 remains of victims unaccounted for following the tsunami, the formal identification process for 26 Australians has been completed and their remains, according to the wishes of their families, returned to Australia.

As at 30 June 2005 a total of 2000 victims' remains had been identified through the DVI process, leaving around 1800 victims' remains still awaiting identification. The DVI process is unlikely to be completed before the end of 2005. While Australia's funding for Kenyon's services ceased on 30 June 2005, the Australian Government remains engaged in the process through the provision of support by the AFP.

Given the high proportion of foreign nationals who were victims of the tsunami, a number of foreign governments have already contributed to the costs of Kenyon International's services and a number of others have agreed to contribute. The department has continued to liaise with foreign governments to seek contributions to recover the costs of the disaster victim identification process relating to the remains of victims of other foreign countries.

Accounts for Kenyon International's services from 26 December 2004 until 25 March 2005 amounted to $9 778 739.94. Accounts for services provided in the period since 25 March 2005 are yet to be finalised.

Following the tsunami we issued $164 107 in emergency financial assistance to 92 Australians.

Quantity information

Indicator 2004–05
Number of Australian victims of the tsunami identified 26

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2004–2005
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