This audit would review the effectiveness of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT’s) structures, planning processes and strategies to prepare and respond to overseas crises and major incidents.

In the event of an overseas crisis or emergency, Australia’s consular services are relied upon to assist from both a humanitarian and consular support perspective. In 2017–18, DFAT provided 11,880 Australians with consular assistance through its network of 112 overseas posts. Auditor-General Report No. 21 of 2014–15, Delivery of Australia’s Consular Services, noted that Australians are travelling abroad more often, in increasingly higher risk groupings (such as the elderly and children), and that DFAT’s dispersed network of service delivery locations and variety of work undertaken across this network creates challenges in ensuring effective coordination.

Since then, DFAT has implemented a number of measures to respond to these risks, including the establishment of a Global Watch Office within DFAT to provide a single point of contact for whole-of-government responses to international events and crises, and the introduction of a Crisis Hub to bring together consular and humanitarian details onto a single digital platform in the event of a crisis. This audit would focus on the period since the 2015 performance audit was conducted.