Australian Honorary Consul Chiangmai – Activity Blog March & April 2018

Over March and April the Chiang Mai Consulate was active with consular assistance & support, supplying information and undertaking public diplomacy. There were 222 activities involving 122 hours of honorary consul participation.

This bi-monthly post covers highlights of my activity, some statistics on the scope and volume of service as well as upcoming events and information for general awareness.

Consular Outreach & Public Diplomacy Highlights

Among other duties one of the functions of the Honorary Consul is to engage in public diplomacy by representing and promoting Australia.  There are often events and ceremonies and invitation that provide this opportunity.  While I can’t attend every activity the following highlights (in no particular order) some of the engagement during March and April:

CP International Australian Education Fair

It was an honour to present the opening address and cut the ribbon at the CP International Australian Education Fair held a U Nimman Hotel. I also enjoyed chatting with the 15 Australian education institutions represented. Lots of interest from prospective students from Chiang Mai.  Nearly 20,000 Thai students studied in AUS in 2017 – a 2% increase on 2016.

Here are the education facilities that participated:
Academy of Information Technology, Australian Institute of Technical Training, Australian Pacific College
ELSIS (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), Explore English & MCIE, Holmesglen Institute of Technology
International House, Sydney, Kangan Institute of Technology, Macquarie University, Southern Cross University
TAFE Queensland, Universal Institute of Technology, The University of Sydney
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)/UTS: INSEARCH and the University of Western Australia (UWA)

Culture and Arts of Tianjin Performance

The consulate was invited by the Chiang Mai University Development Foundation to attend the Chinese Culture and Arts of Tianjin Performance at CMU convention center. The consulate joined other members of the Consular Corps and some 3500 guests to see this event that showcased Chinese culture and arts while promoting the strong relationship between Thailand and China. There was 90 minutes of fast paced, colourful and engaging performances of dance, music, martial arts and acrobatics. We really enjoyed the performance and so happy to have attended.Very well done. I also had the pleasure of meeting the CMU Foundation President and National Legislative Member Clinical Professor Niwes Nantachit, M.D. Thanks to the CMU Vice President for International Affairs and Alumni Relations for the invitation and being a very gracious host.

Australian Consular Service Outreach Program

Busy day on April 6th – the Consulate supported the Australian Embassy Consular Service Outreach in Chiangmai. Some 55 clients assisted for notarial and passport services. A good chance to meet some Aussies living here. A local Australian Foundation came along to sell some classic treats – lamingtons, anzac biscuits, hotcross buns and more. We also reminded people of the Anzac Day service on 25 April in Chiangmai. Next Consular Service Outreach is 18 May.

New Indian Consulate – Residence Warming

We enjoyed an evening and dinner at the home of the Indian Consul in Chiang Mai on the Hang Dong Road – a kind of house warming for their new premises. It was a nice and informal gathering with some members of the consular corps in Chiang Mai. We enjoyed a lovely feast of delicious Indian cuisine – along with a very scrumptious desert made by Rajni.

Australian Pavilion – CMWF18

The Consular Corps of Northern Thailand (24 missions), including the Australian Consulate, has been asked by the Governor of Chiang Mai Province to participate in a World Fair 2018 from 22 June to 1 July.

The first stage, for the Australian Consulate, is to engage in some pre-planning and to understand the level of interest, likely participation, operating cost, and available resources. There has been a considerable amount of time and effort expended in the planning for this years Australian showcase event. This has included engaging with potential booth display participants, booth helpers, Australian Alumni and expat community.

You can read more here.

ANZAC Day Dawn Service Chiang Mai

ANZAC Day Dawn Service Chiang Mai 2018 – The consulate this year collaborated with the House of Praise International Church in the planning and delivery of this years memorial service.  A very nice service and tribute to the memories of the brave men and women who served their country was held in Chiang Mai. A large number of guests; about 150 attended, along with some Thai Government Officials – Vice Governor of Chiang Mai, Royal Thai Police, Chang Puek Commander and Royal Thai Defence Force, 33rd Military Circle, Deputy Chief Kawilia Barracks.

The master of ceremonies and host today was Pastor J Vickers, House of Praise International Church with speeches by R Elliott, Honorary Consul of Australia and N Wiles WO2, Australian Army representative. The Last Post and Reville were played by a bugler from the Thai Army. The flag were attended by representatives of the Australian Navy from HMAS Anzac. Wreaths were laid on behalf of a number of organisations. A great Aussie BBQ and social gathering followed. Thanks to those who participated. See more pictures here.

Scope of Consular Services – Statistics, those darn statistics

Much of the consulates workload involves being contacted by Australian’s, Thai’s and others seeking consular services, visa information or some form of assistance. While we can’t share details of cases or assistance, due to privacy reasons, I can provide some data regarding the type and scale of activities of the past two months.

The month of March was extremely busy and involved 106 contacts & activities requiring 60 service hours. The client language mix was 76% English & 24% Thai. By comparison the month of April was slightly busier with 116 contacts & activities that involved 61 service hours.  The client language mix was 80% English & 20% Thai. The methods of interaction with clients and the consulate over the period were mixed and involved:

  • March – Phone 57%; Email 15%; Social media 2% and In person 26%
  • April – Phone 51%; Email 22%; Social media 6% and In person 21%

The work involves a wide variety of matters such as providing advise and information in response to inquiries for notarial and passport services, visa inquiries, other assistance information and offering referral information to websites or correct contacts/place for services.  As well the Consulate attends to clients requiring consular assistance & supports the Embassy in a variety of case management scenarios.

The breakdown of Consulate service activities for the two months are:

Consular support & passports: – 39% in March & 46% in April

Australian visa info: – 32% in March & 27% in April

Other & Information:  11% in March & 3% in April

Public diplomacy:  19% in March & 24 % in April

Some of the consular assistance over the past few months involved visiting hospitalised Australians due to illness or accident.

Social Media

The Consulate uses social media (Facebook & twitter and dedicated websites) in order to disseminate & share information that may be helpful and/or interesting.  These social media platforms activities for March and April 2018 involved:

Consulate Websites: page views of 2049 for the two websites; a significant increase over previous two months:

997  – Australian Honorary Consul (tranquilinthailand.com)

1052 – Australian Consulate – (Australianconsulatechiangmai.com)

Facebook pages: Facebook is where I post routine activity on a frequent basis – mainly the public diplomacy activity & consular information.   To highlight the effectiveness of Facebook, in April, a total of 2159 users were reached over these two consulate Facebook sites –  involving 593 post engagements.  This was a significant upward tend on the last period – check out these FB links:

Honorary Consul Facebook  – Australian Consulate Chiangmai Facebook 

Google my Business – The consulate is listed on Google and through this platform people can locate the consulate, website or make contact. For April there were 696 clients who searched for the consulate. Of these: 28 requested directions – 27 visited the website – 21 called the consulate.

Upcoming Activity and General Information

  • Consular Service Outreach Program Chiang Mai

18 May and 29 June 2018 – Next Outreach visit at Le Meridien Hotel Chiang Mai. For details and information on notarial and passport services available please see this web-page link.

  • Contacting the Consulate

While the Consulate normally operates Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 12 noon – if you call you may find that your call can not be answered. The Consulate may already be on another call or engaged with a client or in a meeting. You can leave a call back number or try calling back later.

I recently received a call and the only message left was – “you are supposed to be there” – it was from Skype so I was not able to call back. If you can not reach the Consulate by phone you can always try email: australianconsulate.chiangmai@gmail.com

If its urgent call the Australian Embassy on 02 344 6300. Outside operating hours if you call the Consulate you will get a message about opening times – you will not be able to leave a voice message.

  • Passports

#DidYouKnow that Australia️ has the most reported lost and stolen Australian passports?

Make sure you keep your passport safe and secure at all times. A lost or stolen passport could be used for criminal purposes. For more information visit: passports.gov.au #auspassport

I can now see why the Consulate in Chiang Mai gets a number of calls on what to do when a passport is lost or stolen – keep it safe and secure.

  • Nominations for the 2018 Australian Alumni Awards 

The Australian Alumni Awards celebrate and showcase the achievements of Alumni members who have applied their Australian education in their professional endeavours in Thailand. Nominations are now being accepted and Alumni can apply themselves, or be nominated by anyone, including their Australian higher education institution.

In 2017, nominations were received from alumni representing more than 15 Australian universities. If you, or someone you know, studied in Australia and have gone on to achieve success in your chosen field, apply yourself or nominate someone today.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 11 May 2018.

Award Categories:

– Alumni of the Year
– Alumni Leadership Award
– Alumni Entrepreneurial Award
– Young Alumni Award
– Alumni Community Engagement Award

For application guidelines and nomination form, see http://australianalumni.com/Australian-Alumni-Awards-2018

 

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