May and June 2018 have come and gone. The Consulate was active with consular assistance & support, supplying information and undertaking public diplomacy. It was a particularly busy period with 235 consular activities that involved 162 hours of participation. This consulate bi-monthly post is created to offer an insight into the highlights of my activity, some statistics on the scope/volume of service being undertaken in the north as well as upcoming events and information of general awareness.
Consular Outreach & Public Diplomacy
Among other duties one of the Honorary Consul functions is to engage in public diplomacy by representing and promoting Australia. There are events, ceremonies and invitation that often provide this opportunity. While I can’t attend every activity the following highlights (in no particular order) some of the engagement during May and June:
Lanna Expo 2018 – The consular corps were invited to grand opening of this 10 day long gala event that was enjoyable and entertaining. Thanks to the Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Mr Wissanu Krea-ngam to taking time to visit our Australian Pavilion along with many other guests. The Governor of Chiang Mai also dropped in to try some Taste Australia products – fresh Aussie grapes and sample some Australian pasta prepared and offered by Rimping Supermarkets Chef. A fun official opening.
Australia Pavilion – This activity was a major undertaking for the Consulate and took many hours of preparation and participation to deliver over a 10 day period from 22 June to 1 July 2018. The consulate was greatly supported by the organisational help of two local Aussie Expats families and I thank them so much – Leanne and Kirk Holloway and Mary and Steve Hambley. Also supporting our pavilion by attending to daily coverage and interaction with visitors was a large number of Aussie expats and Australian Thai Alumni. A big thank you to them and all who helped out. There was a website and FB page created for this event and it best explains and showcases what went on during our 10 days of promoting Australia in the north of Thailand. Here are the links:
Austcham Sundowner Reception – Chiang Mai Sundowners hosted by AustCham Thailand and Australian Alumni on the opening night of Lanna Expo 2018 at Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre. It was a really social and fun reception networking event. Thanks to Austcham, Australian Alumni and other Chamber members and guests for coming along. First time for Austcham Sundowners in Chiang Mai. Citylife came along and took some fun pictures you can see here.
Public Diplomacy Unit Visit
Katherine Twomey, Economics & Trade and Khun Mai, Research Office visited Chiang Mai in June to participate in some liaison meetings with the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, Office of Commercial Affairs, Chiang Mai and others. The meetings were to explore the economy of the north and establish links for further opportunities. Pictured are discussions with the Chiang Mai Commercial Affairs Director and staff. Katherine also attended the opening of the Lanna Expo and visited our booth to check it out. We also had a wonderful opportunity to have lunch with a few Thai Australian Alumni and in particular, the lady who went on to win the Austcham, Alumni of the Year Award.
USA 200 Years Bilateral Relations – The Australian Consulate enjoyed the evening celebrating with our friends the Consul General of the United States of America Jennifer Harhigh and Colin Furst. They held a reception at the Shangri La Hotel to celebrate the 242nd Anniversary of the Independence of the U.S.A and 200 Years of Friendship between the United States and Thailand. Special guests included U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand H.E. Glyn Davies and Mrs Jacqueline Davies. Local officials included the Governor of Chiang Mai Pawin Chamniprasart and members of the Consular Corp in Chiang Mai. Thanks Steve Yarnold from Citylife for some pictures.
120th Philippine Independence Day – Thanks to the Filipino communities of Northern Thailand and the Philippine Honorary Consul for an enjoyable evening to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Philippine Independence – 1898 to 2018. Wonderful meal, most entertaining Baranggay Folk dance troupe that shared indigenous music, song and dance. A large attendance and a great night of friendship.
Ramadan Friendship Dinner – It was a pleasant evening at Wichai Wittaya English Program School Chiang Mai to partake in a Ramadan friendship dinner and support student recognition awards.
Farewell Chiang Mai Governor – A reception was held at the Diplomat Single Malt Club to acknowledge and farewell the Dean of the Consular Corps for Northern Thailand, the Consul General of Myanmar, Kaung San Lwin, who is returning to his home country. The Corps also welcomed the next Dean of the Consular Corps, the Consul General of the USA Jennifer Harhigh. It was also an opportunity for the Corps to farewell the Governor of Chiang Mai, Pawin Chamniprasat who will be moving to a new role in Bangkok and thank him for being a good friend and for engaging with the Consular Corps on many matters over the past years.
Pavilion Helpers Briefing Day – A briefing session was held for Australian Helpers, at the Pub Restaurant, followed by a networking lunch. The helpers will support the Australian Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai to host an Australian Showcase Pavilion at the World Fair 2018. Thanks to all our helpers – it was a good learning day and lots of fun. Thanks to Citylife (Steve) for stopping by for a picture session and the story that you can see here.
Consular Outreach – May & June – These were busy Embassy Consular Service Outreach Program days. 58 clients visited for notarial and passport services in May. Next visit was 29 June 2018 and it was busy day with lots of notarial services and passport applications to serve 55 clients. There were some yummy treats (great Lamingtons, Anzac biscuits and more) also on offer thanks to a local Australian Foundation. Next Outreach visit planned for 17 August 2018. Thanks to the Embassy consular services team for your visit to Chiang Mai. More details can be found here http://thailand.embassy.gov.au/…/Consular_Outreach_Visits.h…
Farewell & Welcome – The consulate over this period took the opportunity to farewell our out going and welcome our new in coming Head of Consular Services from the Embassy in Bangkok. With consular visits to Chiang Mai for the Outreach we had the pleasure of enjoying a social catch up and meal. Good luck back in Canberra to Kirsten and welcome to Thailand, Anita.
Scope of Activity; 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 May was routine and involved 107 contacts & activities requiring 44 service hours. The client language mix was 78% English & 22% Thai. By comparison the month of June was much busier with 128 contacts & activities that involved 118 service hours. The client language mix was 75% English & 25% Thai. The methods of interaction with clients and the consulate over the period were mixed and involved:
- May – Phone 60%; Email 24%; Social media 5% and In person 11%
- June – Phone 44%; Email 29%; Social media 0% and In person 27%
The work involves a wide variety of matters such as providing advise and information in response to inquiries for notarial and passport services, Australian 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 personal 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: – in May 43% & in June 40%
- Australian visa info: – in May 36% & in June 25%
- Other & Information: in May 7% & in June 3%
- Public diplomacy: in May 14% & in June 32%
Some of the more detailed consular support over the past few months involved matters such as support to hospitalised Australians from illness or accident, missing person, welfare of travelling Australians and deceased Australians.
The Consulate uses social media facilities (Facebook & twitter and dedicated websites) in order to disseminate & share information. These social media platforms activities for May and June 2018 involved:
Consulate Websites: Page views of 2112 for the regular two websites, plus a temporary site for our Australia Pavilion:
555 views – Australian Honorary Consul (tranquilinthailand.com)
1058 views – Australian Consulate – (Australianconsulatechiangmai.com)
499 views – Australia Pavilion – (https://australianconsulatechiangmai.wordpress.com/)
Facebook pages: This is where I post routine activity on a more frequent basis – mainly the public diplomacy activity & consular information. In June, Facebook pages a total of 2268 people across these two consulate Facebook sites – involving 706 post engagements. We also created a temporary Facebook page for our Australia Pavilion with 3732 people reached and 1286 post engagements. Check out our Pavilion FB Page – You can check out the other FB page links here:
Upcoming Activity and General Information
- Consular Service Outreach Program Chiang Mai – Next Outreach visit at Le Meridien Hotel Chiang Mai is 17 August 2018. The following dates are 5 October and For details and information on notarial and passport services available please see this web-page.
- Chiang Mai Consulate Closure – Period 18 July to 30 July 2018 – The consulate will be closed for this period. For any consular services or assistance please contact the Australian Embassy Bangkok by phone 02 344 6300 (ask for consular services) or by email: email@example.com. See this web page: For visa inquiries please contact the Australian Visa Application Center, operated by VFS Global. See their web page
- Passport Changes – From 1 July 2018 new passport photos must be taken without glasses. This will further strengthen the integrity of the Australian passport. Research commissioned by DFAT has shown that glasses adversely affect passport facial matching – matching is more accurate without glasses. Other passport photo standards are unchanged, such as looking straight at the camera; neutral expression; hair off the face; no red-eye; no shadows; plain background. A limited exemption for medical reasons may apply were supported by a medical certificate. You can find more information on www.passports.gov.au
- Consular Service – Embassy Appointments – Please be aware – From 4 July 2018 – if you are going to the Australian Embassy Bangkok for notarial or passport services you will need to book an appointment online – see details below – and check out this Consular appointment webpage – http://thailand.embassy.gov.au/bkok/Appointments_Page.html