The Big Issue: When do we call for consular help?

RESORT New Caledonia
RESORT New Caledonia str29-goplaces

Ever wondered why Australians might require assistance from their government while overseas? The answers are all there in The Consular State of Play 2016-17, published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and it's a lively read. In 2016-17 Australia's diplomatic missions provided assistance to 12,454 Australians overseas, slightly more than one in every 1000 international travellers. "Welfare" accounted for almost a quarter of all cases. According to a DFAT spokesperson, "Welfare cases are those which include Australians seeking assistance on legal matters/victims of scams, illness and a variety of family matters." Second most common was "whereabouts" inquiries, and more than 70 per cent were crisis cases, tracing the location of Australians potentially caught up in emergencies and terrorist incidents. In third place, hospitalisation, with 1701 Australians requiring hospital treatment. Thailand accounted for 195 cases, Indonesia for 155 and 117 Australians required hospitalisation in the USA but fourth place went to New Caledonia with 103, which is astonishing considering that only about 25,000 Australians travelled there in 2016-17.

Australia's overseas missions also assisted 1641 Australians who fell foul of the law. Most of those arrests occurred in the USA, where Australians notched up 116 immigration-related offences and 169 other legal infringements. In second place was the United Arab Emirates, where there were 28 immigration-related cases. The USA also recorded the highest number of Australians arrested for drug-related offences, a total of 16, followed by Thailand and the UAE with 13 each and China and the Philippines with 12 apiece.