Outcome 2: Australians informed about and provided access to consular and passport services in Australia and overseas
Accessibility of passport services
The department provides secure travel documents to eligible Australians through passport offices in Australias major cities and more than 100 diplomatic and consular missions overseas. Access to passport information is available through the Australian Passport Information Service (APIS), and interview services are also provided through Australia Post outlets.
We negotiated a new five-year contract with Australia Post that allows clients to lodge passport applications at most Australia Post outlets. Its extensive network will ensure that Australians continue to enjoy ready access to passport services, and guarantees the retention of existing service levels to rural and regional areas. Eighty-four per cent of clients now elect to lodge applications through Australia Post.
Figure 18. Calls to Australian Passport Information Service
The departments website was redesigned and our passport information revised to improve accessibility. Clients can now access passport information, contact APIS and request passport renewal forms online.
Access to a telephone interpreter service is available to clients at departmental expense.
Tenders were called for the continued provision of a call service facility for passport information. Centrelink was the preferred supplier, and a three-year contract with a two-year option to renew was signed on 27 March 2000. The transfer of APIS from the previous service provider, Telstra in Canberra, to Centrelink in Tasmania was achieved ahead of schedule and with no disruption to client services.
Improved passport issue and renewal processes
The department redesigned the passport issuing process during the year. Passports in Australia are now issued using the latest scanning and workflow technology which, combined with more efficient work practices, has increased overall efficiency by around 25 per cent. A move to self-managing office work teams has maximised the operational benefits and flexibility provided by the new technology.
We took steps to remedy concerns about difficulties in contacting APIS and the quality of passport photographs. A new three-year APIS service contract was negotiated and will commence on 1 July 2000. The new service will provide the department with increased call handling capacity and introduces new performance standards to improve customer service. A new passport printer that improves photographic images is now being installed in passport offices within Australia. In October 1999, the departments website was modified to allow clients to request passport renewal forms online. Online requests for forms now average around 700 a month and the number is steadily increasing.
The passport renewal service, which is designed to fast-track passport renewals, continued to be popular. The number of clients using this service increased by 28.5 per cent to 411 740 during the year.
Security of travel documents
To strengthen the integrity of the Australian passport and to provide a faster service to clients, the department made arrangements with the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages, New South Wales, that allow rapid corroboration of birth certificate details. This has increased our capacity to identify and act swiftly on fraudulent passport applications and has improved the effectiveness of the identity-checking process.
Customer service charter
A Passport Client Service Charter, formulated in consultation with clients and staff, was introduced in December 1998. It advises clients on how to provide feedback on passport services and is available in pamphlet form at passport offices and on the departments website. The department reports to the Government each July on the operation of the charter.
An external review in 200001 will ensure the charters continued effectiveness.
This page last modified: Thursday, 01 April 2004 11:10:35 AM
Local Date: Tuesday, 23 December 2014 09:41:51 AM