More than 10 million Australians travelled overseas during 2016–17, the latest figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) reveal, with the number of overseas deaths on
record rising to 1653.
People who were murdered while travelling overseas also rose by two to 49,
while suicides dropped by four to 65, when compared to figures from the
The country where consular assistance was sought the most for overseas
deaths was Thailand (203), followed by the Philippines (126), Indonesia and
the United States. Thailand was ranked the fourth most popular travel
destination for Australians with 529,000 visitors, behind New Zealand (1,316,000), the USA and the
The total number of people who died overseas was 9%
higher than the year before, with the department attributing the rise to
more elderly people travelling and retiring overseas.
This would be consistent with the causes most responsible for overseas
deaths, which were falling ill (446), natural causes (340) and accidents
All of the yearly changes before were by single digits – except for the
difference in deaths from natural causes, which rose significantly by
The figures were released as part of DFAT's Consular State of Play 2016–17,
a report detailing the assistance provided to Australian travellers by the
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, says she is proud of the
level of help offered by the department, though she does concede that
consular assistance is not a guaranteed right.
"There are limits to the assistance the government can provide. Australians
who choose to travel overseas should be as prepared and self-reliant as
possible," she says.
"Uninsured travellers who are hospitalised overseas or need medical
evacuation can face crippling medical bills. Medicare and the government
will not cover those expenses."
She says travel insurance is needed, but the government's Survey of
Australian travel insurance behaviour found a majority of people are
confused by what is and isn't covered.
The survey found:
87% of travellers did not know which countries were covered by
their travel insurance
87% of travellers did not know if they were covered for riding a
82% of travellers were uncertain about coverage of mental health
70% were not sure if they were covered for incidents that involved
the consumption of alcohol or drug use
The department offered tips to help people identify travel insurance that
is suitable for them, emphasising that the policy should cover all of the countries
they plan to visit and all of the activities on their agenda. It should also
cover pre-existing medical conditions and current medical treatments.