The months of September and October are behind us now. Due to personal medical reasons the work of the consulate has been restricted to essential activity only. The Consulate dealt with consular assistance & support, supplying information and undertaking minimal public diplomacy. It was still busy with 189 consular activities that involved 56 hours of participation. This bi-monthly post is an insight into some of my activity, some statistics on the scope/volume of service being undertaken in the North of Thailand as well as upcoming events and information of general awareness.
Consular Outreach & Public Diplomacy
Diplomacy Activity Highlights
Among the duties of the Honorary Consul is to engage in public diplomacy by representing and promoting Australia. There are events, ceremonies and invitation that often provide this opportunity. Due to personal reasons my public diplomacy activity was limited over this period but the following highlights a few engagements during September and October 2018:
- Consular Corps Meet Governor of Chiang Mai – The Consular Corps of Chiang Mai hosted a meeting with and a reception for the new Governor of Chiang Mai (Supachai Iamsuwan) this week. The purpose of the meeting was for representatives of the Corps to have the opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest with the Governor and other Officials as well as to welcome him to Chiang Mai.Some of the matters discussed involved Immigration services, work permits, Quality of public life and planning for the annual burning season. A social evening followed at the lovely Service 1921 Restaurant, Anantara Chiang Mai – the lovely colonial house that was once the British Consulate.
- Meet with Chiang Mai Provincial Police and Mae Rim Commander to follow-up on a consular matter. The Police briefed on their investigation and policy on mental health management for foreigners in Chiang Mai.
- Another Australian Consular Outreach day on Friday 5 October in Chiang Mai. Services were provided to 61 clients with the Consulate providing logistics and client support role. Some great treats were also on offer from a local Australian Foundation.
- The Wichai Wittaya English Program School Chiang Mai visited the Consulate to deliver an invitation to support their international day on 29 November. Look forward to offering support, providing material and collateral to use in their school children designed Australian booth and attending the event on 29th.
Scope of Work and 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 information or 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 September involved 84 contacts & activities requiring 24 service hours. The client language mix was 81% English & 19% Thai. By comparison the month of October was much busier with 105 contacts & activities that required 32 service hours. The client language mix was 88% English & 12% Thai.
The work involved 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 referrals to websites or correct contacts/place for services. As well the Consulate assisted clients requiring personal consular assistance & supported the Embassy in a variety of case managements. The breakdown of Consulate service activities for the two months are:
- Consular support & passports: – Sept 52% & Oct 60%
- Australian visa info: – Sept 27% & Oct 26%
- Assist & Information: Sept 8% & Oct 11%
- Public diplomacy: Sept 13% & Oct 3%
Some of the consular support over the past few months involved matters such as case management support to welfare of travelling Australians and deceased Australians.
The Consulate uses social media facilities (Facebook & twitter and dedicated websites) in order to disseminate & share information. Facebook pages: This is where I post routine activity on a more frequent basis – mainly the public diplomacy activity & consular information. You can check out the other FB page links here:
Upcoming Activity and General Information
- Consular Service Outreach Program Chiang Mai –The Australian Embassy will not be conducting any further outreach visits to Chiang Mai in 2018. They anticipate a reduction in the need to provide notarial services due to no longer witnessing income or bank balance statutory declarations. As such, outreach visits to Chiang Mai will be reduced in 2019 and the Embassy anticipate their next visit to be in June 2019. At least six weeks’ notice will be provided of our visit date, please monitor the website for updates – see this web-page.
- Notarial Services no longer provided
- As of 7 January 2019, witnessing statutory declarations which declare income or bank balances for Thai Immigration purposes will no longer be available.
- Witnessing statutory declarations or providing a letter which declares your address in Thailand are now no longer available.
- Passport Applications Chiang Mai – From early December 2018, Australian passport applications & renewals can be lodged with the Honorary Consul, Chiang Mai – by appointment only. Please contact the Australian Consulate Chiang Mai (Monday to Thursday 9 am to 12 noon only) on 091 857 6996 or by email – firstname.lastname@example.org – to book an appointment.For information on the requirements to lodge a passport application, please refer to Australian Passports section on the Embassy’s webpage. It is important to note that you need to allow a minimum of four weeks for the passport to be processed and returned to you. Payment at the Consulate in Chiang Mai will be by credit or debit card authorisation form ONLY.
- Passport Photo’s –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 – Bangkok Embassy Appointments – Please be aware – if you are going to the Australian Embassy Bangkok for notarial or passport services you will need to book an appointment online and have an appointment before you will be allowed entry – see details below – and check out this Consular appointment webpage –