Department Foreign Affairs & Trade  
Annual Report - Contents
 
DFAT Annual Report 1998-99






YEAR 2000 (Y2K) PROBLEM: INTERNATIONAL DIMENSIONS

The Y2K problem was a significant challenge for the department in 1998–99. We attached high priority to the international dimensions of this problem, working to safeguard Australian interests—including those of Australian business and the wider community overseas—in a variety of ways. Through our Consular Travel Advisory Notices Scheme, we warned Australians that they may experience disruption from late 1999 through into 2000 to their business, personal or holiday plans as a result of Y2K problems overseas in areas such as transport, financial services, telecommunications, power, water and health services. Our notices, distributed widely through travel agents and the Internet, also received substantial media attention, which helped to raise public awareness of the potential problems significantly.

On behalf of the Australian Government, we worked closely with other countries to address these problems, both directly and through multilateral forums including APEC, the United Nations, the International Y2K Cooperation Centre and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Commonwealth Government ministers also took every opportunity to raise Y2K issues with counterpart ministers overseas.

To inform this international cooperation on Y2K, the department monitored Y2K preparations overseas very closely, and held discussions with overseas governments, local service providers and international Y2K experts. We have therefore been able to draw a reasonably comprehensive picture of the state of international Y2K preparedness. Many governments and businesses around the world are working hard to establish extensive remediation programs to resolve Y2K problems. While considerable progress is expected throughout 1999, many countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Eastern and Western Europe have significant work still to be done on their Y2K preparations.

We are committed to ensuring that the Australian community is kept abreast of the international dimensions of the Y2K problem. Our public communications strategy includes a portfolio website: http://www.dfat.gov.au/year2000. Through this site, we provide general information on Y2K internationally, links to other national and international websites on Y2K, and regularly updated consular travel advice on Y2K.

Since December 1996, we have put extensive work into ensuring the Y2K compliance of our own systems and equipment in Australia and overseas, to avoid impacts on our business operations during the transition into 2000. This project has progressed through a number of phases involving planning and inventory, remediation and testing, and implementation and contingency planning. Y2K compliance of the department’s mission-critical systems in Australia and overseas is now largely completed, and increasing attention has been directed to contingency planning.

Our contingency planning aims to minimise the potential disruption to Australian Government services overseas, with a particular focus on the maintenance of effective consular services. However, Australian travellers and their families and friends in Australia should be aware that Y2K difficulties may limit the level of consular assistance and services that can be provided.

We are also cooperating internationally on appropriate mechanisms for early advice to the Australian community on the actual impact of Y2K problems overseas as they occur during the Y2K rollover period.


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