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Thursday, 10 May 2007
Page: 201

Mr Byrne asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 28 March 2007:

(1)   What system does the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade use for handling consular complaints.

(2)   In respect of the system identified in Part (1), (a) when was it implemented and (b) does it meet the recommendations outlined by the Australian National Audit Office in Audit Report No. 31, 2000-01, Administration of Consular Services and subsequently in Audit Report No. 16, 2003-04, Administration of Consular Services Follow-up Audit.

(3)   For each financial year since the implementation of the consular complaints handling system, (a) how many complaints have been received and (b) are the complaints categorised; if so, (i) what are the categories and (ii) how many complaints have been received in each category.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a formal Consular Complaints Handling Mechanism in place. The consular complaints handling mechanism has been modelled on the Good Practice Guide for Effective Complaint Handling prepared by the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office and seeks to ensure that clients’ complaints are addressed in a manner consistent with the department’s obligations under the Consular Services Charter.

(2) (a)   December 2004, (b) Yes.

(3) (a)   In 2004-05 forty-seven (47), in 2005-06 forty seven (47) and in 2006-07 (until 31 March 07) Eighteen (18) complaints were received respectively, (b) Yes. (i) Data on complaints are collected in the following categories: consular, notarial, web/travel advice, passports, online registration, smartraveller, welfare and other, (ii) Complaints received by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade by year and category are as follows: 2004-05 consular - 8 notarial - 1 web/travel advice - 18 passports - 4 online registration - 0 smartraveller - 11 welfare - 1 other - 4 2005-06 consular - 7 notarial - 2 web/travel advice - 11 passports - 2 online registration - 1 smartraveller - 13 welfare - 0 other - 11 2006-07 (as of 31 March 07) consular - 4 notarial - 1 web/travel advice - 4 passports - 0 online registration - 0 smartraveller - 9 welfare - 0 other - 0