Hundreds of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff and their families have returned home from overseas postings to stay safe from COVID-19, new figures show.
DFAT has temporarily returned 300 staff and 800 of their family members to Australia as coronavirus infections and death tolls climb internationally.
The movement of staff home has coincided with a major departmental response helping Australians return from overseas amid the disruption to international travel caused by COVID-19.
DFAT's public servants have returned from 73 postings, more than half of Australia's diplomatic network of embassies, high commissions, multilateral missions, and consulates.
However 70 per cent of Australian officials remain in 84 countries providing consular support.
The department told a parliamentary inquiry into the influence of COVID-19 on Australia's foreign affairs that some DFAT staff had temporarily left postings to manage the medical, safety and welfare risks of the pandemic.
It follows an offer, announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne in March, of voluntary evacuations back to Australia for diplomats and non-essential embassy staff.
DFAT's public servants have returned home while an extraordinary travel advisory issued in March remains in place urging Australians not to travel anywhere overseas.
Other Commonwealth agencies with overseas postings have brought 230 staff and 480 of their family members home, according to DFAT.
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The department said its staff, and those in other Commonwealth agencies, were returning to postings on a case-by-case basis as conditions eased in some countries overseas. Their movement back would depend on local conditions and the safety of travel, it said.
More than 3100 DFAT staff were working overseas last year, including 2200 that had been locally engaged.
The department has brought home parts of its diplomatic network during what it has described as the largest and most complex consular challenge in its nearly 120-year history.
DFAT has helped more than 25,000 Australians return home amid severe disruptions to global travel caused by border closures and a lack of commercial flights.
Its diplomatic network has helped 700 Australians depart Wuhan in China and Yokohama in Japan, and negotiated safe passage for more than 6500 Australian passengers disembarking from 51 cruise ships overseas.
The department also helped Australians return home on 290 flights from more than 90 countries, including on 58 non-scheduled commercial flights.