Source description last updated: 3 December 2021

In brief: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is an Australian government department that seeks to promote and protect the country’s international interests in view of supporting its security and prosperity. It is equivalent to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Coverage on

Country Information Reports, Thematic Reports

Covered quarterly on for countries of priorities A–E (all available countries).


DFAT collaborates with other nations and international partners to meet global challenges, enhance trade and investment, protect international law and agreements, maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region and assist Australians abroad. (DFAT website: Homepage, undated)

DFAT runs more than 120 diplomatic representations worldwide, including embassies, high commissions and consulates. (DFAT website: What we do, undated)

DFAT’s COI reports are exclusively prepared for protection status determination purposes. As DFAT states, they are to be understood as a “snapshot in time”, offering “the best judgment and assessment at time of writing” of the situation on the ground. DFAT emphasises that these reports do not reflect Australian government policy towards the relevant countries.

DFAT also states that the reports aim to provide “a general, rather than an exhaustive country overview” and are prepared in response to existing caseloads in Australia and not with reference to individual applications for protection. The reports do not contain any policy guidance for decision-makers.

According to Ministerial Direction Number 84 of 24 June 2019, however, the decision maker is obliged to take into account available DFAT country information reports, where relevant, when making decisions. Meanwhile, this does not preclude them from considering other relevant country of origin information. (DFAT website: Country Information Reports, undated)


Australian government funds

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: countries of origin of asylum-seekers to Australia

Thematic focus: human rights; security situation; persecution on the grounds of race, nationality, religion, political opinion and affiliation with a group of interest; arbitrary deprivation of life; death penalty; torture; state protection; internal relocation; civil documentation and other topics


DFAT’s Country Information Reports are all structured in the same way, containing an introductory section that provides background information, and sections comprising COI linked to the types of claims under the 1951 Refugee Convention, complementary protection claims, and other considerations relating to international protection (see, for example, DFAT: DFAT Country Information Report Nigeria, 3 December 2020, p. 3).

DFAT states that its reports draw on the Department’s on-the-ground knowledge and discussions with various local sources as well as on research in public sources such as government and UN entities, international human rights organisations, local NGOs and local and international news outlets (see, for example, DFAT: DFAT Country Information Report Nigeria, 3 December 2020, p. 9, DFAT: DFAT Country Information Report Turkey, 10 September 2020, p. 7, and DFAT: DFAT Country Information Report Iraq, 17 August 2020, p. 8). However, the reports do not contain any footnotes or endnotes with references to sources, although there is sporadic mentioning of sources within the text body (see, for example, DFAT: DFAT Country Information Report Nigeria, 3 December 2020, DFAT: DFAT Country Information Report Turkey, 10 September 2020, and DFAT: DFAT Country Information Report Iraq, 17 August 2020).

Language of publication:


Further reading / links:

ARC – Asylum Research Centre Foundation: Comments on the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Country Information Report on Sri Lanka of 4 November 2019, July 2020

SBS – Special Broadcasting Service: DFAT urged to retract 'inaccurate' report saying Sri Lankans face low torture risk, following UK court finding, 3 June 2021


All links accessed 3 December 2021

Methodological note:'s source descriptions contain background information on an organisation’s mission & objective, funding and reporting methodology, as well as on how we cover the source. The descriptions were prepared after researching publicly accessible information within time constraints. Most information contained in a source description was taken from the source itself. The aim is to provide a brief introduction to the sources covered regularly, offering information on relevant aspects in one place in a systematic manner.