About the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Australian Government
Skip to content


Annual Report 1999-2000Annual Report 1999-2000 home page

ContentsContents > Overviews > Outcome 1: National Interests > Outcome 2: Consular & Passports > Outcome 3: Public Diplomacy > Management > Financial Statements > Appendixes > Glossaries

YOU ARE CURRENTLY AT: Outcome 3 > Output 3.1 > Quality and Quantity information

OUTCOME 3: Public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australia’s foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally

Output 3.1:
Public information services and public diplomacy


Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Satisfaction of ministers

Ministers’ offices and the media gave positive feedback on the quality and impact of the department’s public diplomacy and information activities. In support of ministers, departmental spokespersons were active in providing information on the Government’s foreign and trade policies to print and electronic media. More than 30 formal media briefings were held by senior departmental officials on issues ranging from the Australia–China human rights dialogue, Australian trade and business interests in Europe, the department’s preparations for the Y2K rollover, and diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Ministerial correspondence

Replying to correspondence is an important method of responding to public interest in foreign and trade policy. Ministers want the replies to be prompt and of a high quality.

The Parliamentary Correspondence Management System (PCMS) was introduced into the department in July 1999 to aid our response time in tracking and responding to ministerial correspondence. At our request, the developers customised the system to provide access by the offices of the portfolio ministers and Parliamentary Secretary.

The value of PCMS was apparent during periods of heightened public interest in world events when large volumes of correspondence was handled quickly.

The Senior Executive assessed divisions’ timeliness in preparing responses every month.

With over 7 000 letters replied to, approximately 10 per cent were recorded as being overdue, most of them only by a few days, based on calculations from January to June 2000. The department has achieved a reduction in turnaround time, and will continue to try and improve the timeliness of responses over the next reporting period.

Timeliness and relevance of cultural and media activities

The report against effectiveness indicators from pages 157 to 170 above indicates the scope and success of the department’s public diplomacy activities.

The comprehensive review of the department’s Internet website and ‘hard-copy’ public affairs material carried out during the year resulted in a number of design and content changes aimed at further enhancing the accessibility and relevance of both. As a result of this review the department discontinued the publication of a number of journals, and rationalised the number of hard-copy fact sheets produced in favour of posting more timely and comprehensive information on the website.

The website was used for the timely dissemination of material about special events and all the department’s publications are now also available on the website. Feedback regarding the changes has been positive, and there has been a decrease in public email requesting information.

The department used a comprehensive range of public diplomacy tools during the year to project an accurate and contemporary image of Australia internationally. These included targeted media visits to Australia, briefing foreign correspondents based in Australia, special visitor program and cultural award scheme visits, cultural activities, the distribution of public affairs materials and the development of media strategies and talking points on specific issues.

These strategies increased awareness and understanding of Australian affairs and encouraged more accurate and balanced media coverage of Australia. A raised level of understanding among senior international media commentators, reporters and producers led to a wide range of favourable newspaper and magazine articles, radio and television programs showcasing Australian society.

Australia’s overseas posts undertook a diverse range of targeted public diplomacy programs, including cultural events, and public affairs programs and strategies. Posts provided financial and in-kind support for over 650 Australian artists/ performances/exhibitions around the world. These public diplomacy activities were attended by more than two million patrons, many representing foreign governments, business or media.

Overseas posts have used the unprecedented focus on Australia related to the Sydney 2000 Olympics to promote Australia more as an economically and politically stable trade and investment location, a cultural exporter and a tourist destination. Others have used international programs such as Clean up the World to show Australia’s commitment to the environment, with a large number of posts not only participating but also coordinating their host country’s involvement with the program. By taking such a multifaceted approach to public diplomacy activities, posts have increased significantly the exposure of Australia to international markets generally, and ensured foreign markets gained a better understanding of the vibrancy, innovation and sophistication of Australia. In addition, posts have generated more than 7 500 media reports through their activities.

Freedom of Information requests

The Freedom of Information Act 1982, section 8, extends the right to obtain access to documents in the Government’s possession. Access is limited only by exemptions that protect essential public interests and the private and business affairs of people about whom departments and statutory authorities collect and hold information. During the year, we met our obligations under sections 8 and 9 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, processing 55 requests.

The department was asked to make three internal reviews of decisions under the Freedom of Information Act. Clients have accepted our reasons for delays in releasing documents in the few cases in which deadlines have not been met under this Act.

For further reporting on the department’s Freedom of Information arrangements and activities see Appendix 7.

Quantity information

Number of Australian performing groups, artists, exhibitors and other cultural visitors supported.


Number of public briefings given by DFAT staff in Australia and overseas.

2 009

Number of hits on the department’s Internet websites.1

39 269 746

Number of media-related inquiries handled by the media liaison section.

6 000

Number of visits organised under the International Media and Special Visitor Programs and the Cultural Award Scheme.


Number of publications produced and number of copies distributed.

See Appendix 8

Number of statistical services provided to external clients.2

7 700

Number of treaties maintained on, and added to, the international treaties database.3

2 432

Number of meetings of the Australia International Cultural Council and the Commission on International Cultural Promotion organised.4


Number of Freedom of Information requests processed.5


Number of records assessed for international relations sensitivities before release under the Archives Act.6


Number of completed requests for archival information.7


1 This includes 21 000 000 hits on the department’s main website, 254 860 hits for the mediafocus website and 18 014 886 hits on posts’ websites.

2 Refers to total number of phone, email and fax inquiries on statistics from external clients.

3 For information on treaties refer to the department’s website.

4 2 meetings of the Australia International Cultural Council and 5 meetings of the Commission on International Cultural Promotion.

5 For more detail refer to reporting under Output 3.1.

6 For more detail refer to reporting under Output 3.1.

7 For more detail refer to reporting under Output 3.1.

YOU ARE CURRENTLY AT: Outcome 3 > Output 3.1 > Quality and Quantity information

Annual Report 1999-2000Annual Report 1999-2000 home page

ContentsContents > Overviews > Outcome 1: National Interests > Outcome 2: Consular & Passports > Outcome 3: Public Diplomacy > Management > Financial Statements > Appendixes > Glossaries


© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 | Disclaimer | Privacy

This page last modified: Thursday, 01 April 2004 11:10:34 AM

Local Date: Tuesday, 27 January 2015 12:04:00 PM


Home | Search | Site