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Latest figures released on overseas travel emergencies

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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has urged all Australians who travel overseas to ensure they are fully insured for medical emergencies and sickness when abroad.

In 2016-17, Australia’s consular officers around the world helped more than 12,000 nationals in trouble overseas, in cases that included 1,701 hospitalisations and 1,653 deaths.

There were also 1,642 arrests overseas, 2,546 whereabouts inquiries, 3,081 welfare cases, and 1,090 victims of crime.

More than 10 million departures from Australia were recorded in 2016-17. 

“With so many Australians travelling, things can go wrong including robbery, injury, assault and arrest,” Ms Bishop said.

“However, there are limits to the assistance the Government can provide.

“Australians who choose to travel overseas should be as prepared and self-reliant as possible. Appropriate insurance is essential. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

“Uninsured travellers who are hospitalised overseas or need medical evacuation can face crippling medical bills. Medicare and the Government will not cover those expenses.”

Early in October, the Minister launched the 2016-17 Consular State of Play – a statistical snapshot of consular assistance provided to Australians abroad by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

It showed that Australian residents took 10,039,700 trips during that financial year, having grown about five per cent annually over the past five years.

While only one in one thousand Australians who are overseas at any given time during a year need the Australian Government’s assistance with problems, priority is given to cases involving particularly vulnerable Australians such as children, the mentally impaired, and victims of assault (including sexual assault).

The destinations where Australian travellers have received consular help the most are New Zealand, Indonesia, USA, the UK, Thailand, China, Singapore, Japan, Fiji and India.

The 30-39 year-old age group received the most help (18 per cent of cases), followed by 40-49 year-olds and 50-59 year-olds (17 per cent each), 20-29 year-olds (15 per cent), 60-69 year-olds (12 per cent), and 10-19 year-olds (8 per cent).

Children up to nine years old who received help accounted for eight per cent of cases, while the 70+ age group accounted for five per cent.

According to the 2017 Australian Travel Insurance Behaviour survey (commissioned by DFAT and Understand Insurance and released at the same time as the Consular State of Play), 48 per cent of recent cruise ship travellers bought the wrong kind of insurance for their travel.

“Travellers need to choose the right insurance for their trip. Many travellers mistakenly believe their insurance provides appropriate cover,” Ms Bishop said.

“I urge all Australians planning overseas travel to visit the Smartraveller website for advice and to read the Consular Services Charter, which explains what services the Government can provide if assistance is required while overseas.”

The Consular State of Play 2016-17 can be found at: http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/our-services/consular-services/Pages/consular-state-of-play-2016-17.aspx .