OUTCOME 2: The protection and welfare of Australians abroad and access to secure international travel documentation through timely and responsive travel advice and consular and passport services in Australia and overseas
Program 2.3: Consular services (administered)
Program 2.3 Objective
- To protect the welfare of Australians abroad by administering on behalf of the Commonwealth consular programs and activities that support and assist Australian travellers and Australians overseas.
Program 2.3 Deliverables
- Payment and administration of Travellers Emergency Loans (TELs) to Australians in need, in accordance with the guidelines of the DFAT Consular Handbook.
- Delivery of increased consular emergency services to Australians overseas, including medical evacuations and repatriations, in accordance with the guidelines of the DFAT Consular Handbook.
- Revenue collection of consular fees, and recovery of loan debts.
Program 2.3 Key performance indicators
- Payment of Travellers Emergency Loans is administered in a timely and efficient manner, in accordance with established guidelines and practices.
- Revenue collection of consular fees and recovery of loan debts is administered efficiently and effectively in accordance with established guidelines.
- Consular emergency services are delivered in a timely and responsive manner.
Program 2.3. Consular services (administered)
The emergency loans and emergency services programs had a combined Appropriation of $750 000 in 2009–10, an increase of $250 000 from the Appropriation in 2008–09. With increasing numbers of Australians travelling each year, the additional resourcing provided the department with greater flexibility to help those needing emergency funds overseas. The two programs are able to use the funds flexibly, drawing on the total combined appropriation as required up to the level of the joint cap. The numbers of Australians needing this assistance fluctuates, as does the extent of assistance required in individual cases, and in 2009–10 there were fewer calls on this facility than in previous years.
Travellers emergency loans
In 2009–10, the department granted emergency loans to 286 Australian travellers to the total value of $320 456 compared with loans issued in the previous year to 334 Australian travellers to the value of $415 767. In accordance with guidelines in our Consular Handbook, we provided loans on a case-by-case basis, rigorously assessing individual client needs and their access to other sources of finance (including family members in Australia). We ensured all loan recipients signed legally enforceable deeds of undertaking to repay.
Loans issued during 2009–10 included those made under the Prisoner Loans Scheme to 60 Australians imprisoned overseas. These enabled Australian prisoners in approved countries to buy adequate food and other essentials not provided by prison authorities.
In 2009–10, we recovered $196 447 from Australians who had been issued loans, compared with $181 789 in 2008–09. As we issued loans according to travellers needs and not their capacity to repay, this pattern of recovery reflected the success of our debt management and recovery efforts. These included rapid follow-up contact with debtors offering a number of different repayment options, such as by instalment, and linking debtors’ eligibility for a new passport to the repayment of the outstanding loan.
Consular emergency services
In 2009–10, the department granted payments of $12 387 to five Australian travellers, against the consular emergency services financial support mechanism introduced in 2007–08. This allows payment for in-kind services to destitute Australians and minors, and covers Australian paupers’ funeral costs where it is not practical or legally possible for an undertaking to repay to be signed.