2018 is now behind us and it is onward into 2019 – another year of adventure, chance and promise in Northern Thailand. Happy New Year and best wishes for healthy, happy and productive 2019. The Consulate looks forward to providing assistance & support, supplying information and undertaking some public diplomacy over the coming year.
It continued busy over the past two months of 2018 with 149 consular activities that required 96 hours of participation. This bi-monthly blog provides insight into some of the activity, statistical data on the scope/volume of service provided to clients in the North of Thailand as well as information on general awareness.
New Ambassador to Thailand – The Thailand Honorary Consul General in Queensland, hosted Allan McKinnon (R) – Australia’s next Ambassador to Thailand – for coffee and a discussion at the Royal Thai Consulate General, Queensland. The Thai Consul noted that “someone who can read, write and speak Thai and comes into the role with a great appreciation of Thai culture, and an accomplished career at the highest levels of Australia’s public service, Allan will undoubtedly make a huge impact on strengthening the Thailand-Australia relationship”. I am also told there was discussion on Australia’s Honorary Consuls in Thailand and the work in Chiang Mai. It is anticipated the Ambassador will be accredited in January or February 2019.
Consular Outreach & Public Diplomacy Highlights
Public diplomacy is a function for the Honorary Consul to engage in by representing and promoting Australia, as appropriate. There are events, ceremonies and invitation from the Thai Government and other agencies that often provide this opportunity. The following highlights a few engagements during November and December 2018:
FESTIVAL OF CAROLS – With the Christmas spirit and a lovely evening backdrop in Chiang Mai, we attended the oldest Church in Chiang Mai built in 1868 (now the Christian School Chapel) for the All Saints Festival of Carols. Tonight was in aid of the Youth Charity Foundation. https://www.ycfthailand.com/ . I joined other Counsels and guests to deliver readings and enjoy singing lots of Carols – with the great voices of the Lannacapella choir. Children from the orphanage delivered entertaining songs. Funds raised through donations this evening go to the orphanage.
TREE LIGHTING – Christmas spirit time. We joined in the festivities for the Christmas tree lighting at the Shangr-la Hotel this year. A special treat was on hand for some children from Agapae Home (nikkisplace.org) who came along to sing, meet Santa and enjoy a great feed courtesy of the hotel. Fun time and social event.
WITCHAI WITTAYA – English Program School International Day. As a special guest it was a really fun time supporting and opening the Australia booth at the school – great work and effort by teachers, students and parents to display the culture, food and information of 15 countries. I was amazed at the Aussie Booth – the displays were wonderful and so was the food samples of Lamingtons, Vegamite on toast and other lots of other treats.
Well done to all and a great learning experience for students. It was also a pleasure to receive the president of Witchai Wittaya English Program School to the consulate – to say thank you for supporting their international day and to share good wishes for the new year.
AUSTRALIA & FOUR SEASONS RESTAURANT – Australia is now represented at the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai by Executive Chef Liam Nealon. The Honorary Consul caught up with Liam over lunch. He has come to Chiang Mai from Bali Four Seasons, previously at the Intercontinental Melbourne and originally from Queensland. Best wishes and we look forward to some Australian dishes on the menu.
LAST OUTREACH 2018 – The last Australian Embassy Consular Outreach to Chiang Mai for 2018 was on Friday, 16 November. It was a very busy day with 90 clients provided notarial or passport services. The 2019 Consular Outreach Program has been scaled back – see details here.
THANKS AUSSIE SWIMMING TEACHES – It was a delightful evening and thank you dinner spent with a group of Australian Swimming Coaches & Teachers Association members. They were in Chiang Mai to deliver training and accreditation for some Thai swim instructors. These local instructors support the CM International Rotary Club children’s water safety and drowning prevention program using an Aussie swim curriculum. Thanks to Eve, OZ Swim Aquatics and her team for your support in Chiang Mai and to John Schorr & this Rotary Club for their program.
REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICE – LEST WE FORGET – I was grateful to participate in this respectful Service today – 11th day, of 11th month at the 11th hour – thanks to the Royal British Legion at the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery.
HON CON TRAINING – The Australian Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai for Northern Thailand spent A week working and participating in training at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok. A good week of gaining knowledge across a range of consular matters including passport application interviews.
Scope of Work and Statistics
Much of the consulates workload involves contacts from Australian’s, Thai’s and others seeking consular services, visa information or some form of inquiry 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 November involved 72 contacts & activities requiring 72 service hours. The client language mix was 92% English & 8% Thai. By comparison the month of December was much busier with 77 contacts & activities that required 24 service hours. The client language mix was 84% English & 16% Thai.
The work involved a wide variety of matters such as providing 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 the Embassy on case management for clients requiring personal consular assistance & support. The breakdown of Consulate service activities by percentage of overall work for the two months are:
- Consular Support & Passports: – Nov 67% & Dec 74%
- Australian visa Information: – Nov 18% & Dec 15%
- General Assist & Information: – Nov 10% & Dec 3%
- Public diplomacy/Outreach: – Nov 5% & Dec 4%
Some of the consular support involved matters such as welfare of travelling Australians, reporting of deceased Australians, informing Australians on the limitations of some consular assistance & offering suggestions to resolve issues.
The Consulate uses social media, such as 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 FB page links here:
General Information & Up Coming Events
Thailand Travel Advice – The Australian Government Smartraveller website is a good source of information for Australian’s overseas. Here is the latest travel advice on Thailand for your awareness.
Consular Service Outreach Program Chiang Mai –The Australian Embassy anticipate a reduction in the need to provide notarial services due to no longer witnessing income or bank balance statutory declarations. Outreach visits to Chiang Mai will be reduced in 2019 and the Embassy anticipate their next visit to Chiang Mai will not be until June 2019. At least six weeks’ notice will be provided of our visit date, please monitor the website for updates – see web-page.
Statutory Declarations for income – 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. See webpage
Passport Applications Chiang Mai – Australian passport applications & renewals can now 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 – email@example.com – 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 is be by credit card (visa or MasterCard) authorisation form ONLY.
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 –