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What are your Consulates doing to help at this time?

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PHOTO: Australia’s Consul-General in Phuket Matthew Barclay

Australia’s Consul-General in Phuket Matthew Barclay says he understands many people want to know what Australia’s government representatives are doing to help during this time. Matt gives The Thaiger a quick perspective about the services available from your country’s consular representatives during this crazy time.

The services provided by Matt in Phuket are much the same as you can expect from your country’s consular offices here in Thailand. Make yourself aware of how your local embassy, consul-general or honorary consul-general can help you at this time, and what they can, and cannot, do. At least make sure they know where you are and how to contact you if they need to.

Our number one priority is providing advice and support to Australians caught up in the Covid-19 pandemic.  Our team of five people is working around the clock to ensure Australians still in Thailand have access to accurate and timely information about current conditions.

But we are part of a much bigger, multi-agency effort working on this matter along with our Embassy in Bangkok and our team back in Canberra (the capital of Australia) also. Together we are working hard to do help all Australians at this difficult time.

While options to depart Thailand are significantly reduced, we want to reassure people that we are doing what we can to ensure their well-being during the period to come.

Here is an insight into what the consulate’s staff are up to at a time like this.

  1. Updating travel advice

When the Royal Thai Government amends its regulations we work quickly to ensure people who wish to travel know what they require and what impact these regulations could possibly have on them while in Thailand.  Check smartraveler.gov.au for our latest updates.

  1. Developing clear messaging for Australians still in Thailand

In these times it can be tough to find a reliable source of information.  We are regularly seeking out information from airlines, government officials and our colleagues back in Australian and updating travellers through our Australia in Thailand Facebook page.  Other than smartraveler, this is our key method for communicating with Australians.

  1. Checking flight schedules and liaising with airlines

Many Australians still want to return home but have faced flight cancellations.  We understand flights may shortly cease completely.  We are working to ascertain availability and conveying to airlines the demand among Australians still overseas for flights if possible.

  1. Liaising with local government

We have close links with the Royal Thai Government across and are in close contact to ensure that we have credible and timely information for Australians on the current conditions in Thailand.  Given social distancing measures, this is increasingly using Line/WhatsApp messages and phones calls to get the best information available.

  1. Developing ways to alleviate visa stress

As travel options have reduced it has become harder for Australians who are long term residents in Thailand to depart and return to meet their visa obligations.  We have done some fast work to establish a method of issuing visa support letters to ensure these people have peace of mind during this time.  We will now also consider offering a letter to those who have already sought a 30 day extension on their tourist visa.  Anyone seeking a letter can email their current visa page and passport biodata page to consular.phuket@dfat.gov.au

  1. Getting the latest information from Bangkok and Canberra

Our response to Covid-19 is our top priority at present.  Our staff are in regular contact with our headquarters in Canberra and our colleagues at the Embassy in Bangkok.  We are sharing information and resources to ensure we are doing all we can to assist those overseas at this time.

  1. Answering concerns and queries

It is natural that people have questions they want answered right now.  As you can imagine, we are receiving dozens of queries a day.  We are working to answer everyone’s queries on the situation as fast as possible.  This includes over the weekends to ensure that people are getting reliable information quickly.  Any questions can be sent to us at consular.phuket@dfat.gov.au

  1. Registering Australians

Numbers of Australians in Thailand fluctuate during the year.  We are keen to understand who is still here and who may need support.  Australians remaining in Thailand should register their details with the Australian Embassy in Bangkok (Consular.Bangkok@dfat.gov.au) or the Australian Consulate-General in Phuket (Consular.Phuket@dfat.gov.au) for those in Phuket, Krabi, Phang-Nga or Surat Thani.

  1. Preparing Australians for their return home

While flight options may be limited, we still want Australians ready to travel at short notice if flights become available.  We ask everyone to make sure they have a valid travel document and to let us know if their passport is lost or about to expire.  We are doing all we can to quickly produce passports.  For more information check out our website: phuket.consulate.gov.au

  1. Providing regular consular support

As with any time, Australians are still experiencing everyday issues in Thailand.  This could include experiencing accidents, being detained, becoming sick or even passing away.  Our team is still working to provide high quality support to these people and their families to ensure their wellbeing. In accordance with our Consular Services Charter.  For consular support at this time, please call us on 076 317 700

 

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