The Department

3.2 Services to Foreign Representatives in Australia

Table 27: Resources Summary for Sub-program 3.2

Figure 36: Services to Foreign Representatives in Australia Program and Organisational Structure as at 30 June 1998

Sub-program Objectives

In 1997-98, the objective of sub-program 3.2 was to:

  • provide services to, and facilitate the operations of, the foreign diplomatic and consular community in accordance with Australia’s responsibilities under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, and consistent with Australia’s foreign and trade policy objectives.


The Protocol Branch of the Public Affairs and Consular Division administers the sub-program. As at 30 June, the branch provided services to 83 diplomatic missions resident in Canberra and international organisations in Australia, 23 non-resident diplomatic missions and international organisations, and 302 consular posts throughout Australia, representing 131 countries overall. All Australian overseas posts contribute to the sub-program.

The sub-program pursues strategies designed to help achieve three of the Department’s corporate goals: to enhance Australia’s security; to strengthen global cooperation in ways which advance Australia’s interests; and to provide clients with highly professional, efficient and effective services. These strategies include developing policies and procedures to give effect to Australia’s responsibilities under relevant international conventions and Australian law; maintaining close contact with other agencies on matters relating to the security of diplomatic missions, their personnel, and visiting dignitaries through regular consultation and representation on committees managed by the Protective Security Coordination Centre; and maximising use of information technology to maintain or improve the delivery of high-quality services to the diplomatic and consular corps.

Performance Information

In 1997-98, the Department indicated that it would evaluate its performance using:

  • feedback from clients on the standard of protocol services and facilitation provided
  • level of agencies’ satisfaction with the Department’s input and liaison on protective security issues
  • effectiveness of arrangements associated with presentation of credentials for heads of mission
  • number of new bilateral employment agreements initiated and concluded
  • timeliness of, and level of client satisfaction with, the provision of visas and identity cards for staff of diplomatic missions and new appointments.

Performance Outcomes

During the review period, the Department introduced several initiatives to provide guidance to state and federal police on matters pertinent to the diplomatic and consular corps. These included a pocket-sized pamphlet summarising entitlements to diplomatic and consular immunities and a poster describing the features of the new, tamper-proof diplomatic and consular identity cards the Department now issues. The Department designed the new diplomatic and consular identity cards in September as part of an ongoing program of client service improvement, introducing them for general use in January. Clients have reacted favourably to these initiatives.

The Department administered effectively domestic legislation and the international legal requirements of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, and reviewed and implemented a new policy clarifying the Australian Government’s obligations for protection of consulates headed by honorary consular officials. Agencies praised the Department’s liaison and input on protective security issues. The Department finalised a review on airport facilitation provided to the diplomatic corps, resulting in improved access and official visitor facilitation for the corps. It also finalised six bilateral agreements on diplomatic spouse employment.

Photo: Australian High Commissioner to South Africa, Ian Porter, and the acting Director-General of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Thuthu Mazibuko, sign a bilateral employment arrangement in April in South Africa.

The Department arranged the timely processing of 2 493 visa applications for staff of diplomatic missions and diplomatic couriers, issued 1 200 diplomatic and consular identity cards, processed agrément for 30 foreign ambassadors and high commissioners and arranged for 18 of these to present their credentials to the Governor-General or letters of introduction to the Prime Minister. It officially recognised 26 new heads of consular posts and received approvals from 88 countries for the appointment of 34 new heads of Australian diplomatic missions and consular posts.

The Department arranged a number of special functions involving the diplomatic corps, including a highly successful event to mark the seventieth celebration of International Women’s Day in Australia. This event involved female heads of mission, female spouses of diplomatic heads of mission in Canberra, female parliamentary representatives, participants from rural NGOs and women from Canberra’s immediate rural region. Participants offered the Department positive feedback, indicating they welcomed the opportunity the function provided to meet a wide variety of women with differing lifestyles and backgrounds.

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