DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE, AUSTRALIA

D31

21 December 1999

Australian Travellers Urged to be Y2K-Ready

Australians overseas during the Y2K period have been urged to make sure they are aware of the potential for Y2K-related disruptions in the country in which they are living or visiting.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has issued travel advisories on the potential for Y2K-related disruptions for more than 70 countries in which Australia has diplomatic representation. They draw upon the latest international information available on Y2K preparations in different countries.

While it is impossible to predict with any accuracy the extent of Y2K-related problems, a reasonably comprehensive picture of the state of international readiness and potential risks is now available for a range of sectors including transportation, telecommunications, essential services such as power, water and energy, and the financial and health sectors. The Department has undertaken comprehensive planning both in Australia and at its overseas posts to minimise any Y2K disruption to its operations, especially in the provision of assistance to Australian citizens.

Contingency plans are now in place at all Australian overseas posts. Additional resources will be provided to the 24 hour Consular Operations Centre in Canberra which provides round-the-clock assistance to Australians overseas and their family and friends at home.

While Australian diplomatic posts overseas will strive to provide assistance where it is required, Australians travelling or resident overseas should also take their personal circumstances into account and make their own contingency plans for possible disruptions.

For instance, in countries where there is a risk of disruption to financial services, Australians should ensure they have access to sufficient funds to cover immediate needs. In the area of transportation, scheduled services may be varied or cancelled, bookings may not be confirmed and customs and immigration formalities may be delayed. Medical, hospital and welfare services may also be affected and Australians are advised to carry necessary medications with them during their overseas travel.

Australians travelling overseas are urged strongly to arrange appropriate medical and travel insurance and to seek advice about whether their insurance policy provides comprehensive cover for losses arising from Y2K-related incidents.

The Department will update Y2K travel advices as further information becomes available.

The Consular Operations Centre can be contacted on 1300 555 135 within Australia or in other countries through the nearest available Australian overseas post. Media are requested not to call the Consular Operations Centre, but to direct any inquiries on Y2K or consular issues to the Department's media duty officer on 02 6261 1555.