AUSTRALIAN High Commissioner Mike Rann has urged Australians living in the United Kingdom to ensure that they register with government website Smartraveller and take out travel insurance before beginning their summer travels.
The Smartraveller website, which is operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was created to assist Australians in making well-informed decisions about travelling overseas and provide them with up-to-date information regarding their safety and security abroad. Travellers are able to register their itinerary with the website and subscribe to receive regular travel advice about their destination.
In the 2012, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided assistance to over 14 500 Australians that had found themselves in difficult situations while travelling abroad. This included around 1250 hospitalisations and 1138 involving a death in a foreign country.
Mr Rann said that Australians should remember to take appropriate precautions while travelling abroad, and advised registration with Smartraveller as an easy way to safeguard against any unforeseen difficulties. He cautioned that there was a limit to the level of consular assistance that the Australian government could provide, depending on “local laws and the cooperation of external parties.”
Mr Rann said: “At any one time, there are around one million Australians abroad and it greatly assists DFAT in times of emergencies to know where Australians may be in need of assistance around the world and the best way to help us to do that is to register with DFAT’s Smartraveller.”
Mr Rann, who became Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom late last year, noted that summer was a peak time for Australians to be travelling throughout the northern hemisphere and suggested that they take out insurance as well as registering with Smartraveller.
Mr Rann said: “For those Australians heading abroad to enjoy the northern hemisphere summer is a time for fun and adventure however things don’t always go to plan and things can go wrong. That’s why we’re encouraging Australians living in the UK to be Smartravellers and register with DFAT’s Smartraveller service and take out travel insurance.”
Travellers can register with Smartraveller at www.smartraveller.gov.au. The Department of Foreign Affairs also run a 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre that can be reached on +61 2 6261 3305.