Australian Embassy
Holy See
Holy See



Buongiorno! Bonjour! (did you know the Holy See’s official diplomatic language is French?)    Hello!

Welcome to the official website of the Australian Embassy to the Holy See.  I was honoured to take up my role as Australia’s first resident female career Ambassador and third since the position was established in 2008. Here I am introducing my husband, Dr Adrian Hitchman to His Holiness Pope Francis following presentation of credentials on 8 September 2016.  Listen to my credentials' interview with the Vatican Radio here.

The Holy See is both a state recognised in international law and the governing body for the Catholic Church of 1.3 billion.  As Australia's official representative to the Holy See under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, my focus is on the state to state relationship.  Over five million Australians identify as Catholics.  Many of them greeted the three Popes who have visited Australia: Paul VI in 1970, John Paul II in 1986 and 1995, and Benedict XVI in 2008 for World Youth Day in Sydney, which attracted TV and internet audiences of more than a hundred million each.  Over 10,000 of them witnessed from St Peter’s Square in Vatican City the canonisation of Mary MacKillop as Saint Mary of the Cross on 17 October 2010.  In Rome, too, many welcomed Benedict XVI as he opened the Australian Catholic Church's pilgrimage centre, Domus Australia, in 2011.

My mission to the Holy See is to represent modern Australia – our vibrant democracy, indigenous heritage, multicultural society, activist foreign policy, and committed lay and religious making a difference in Rome and at home.  See Forthcoming Events and Recent Events for further information on our activities.  We hope you can join us!  

With warm wishes

Melissa Hitchman
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See


Australia elected to the UN Human Rights Council 2018-2020

The Honourable Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, released a statement on 17 October 2017 to announce Australia's election by a majority of United Nations member states to serve on the Human Rights Council, the world’s peak body for promoting and protecting human rights.

Australia will take its seat on 1 January 2018 for a three-year term and is ready to work closely with other countries and civil society to protect and advance human rights around the world. It is in Australia's national interest to shape the work of the Council and uphold the international rules-based order.  Respecting fundamental human rights and freedoms, and building them into the fabric of a society, makes Australia and the world safer and more secure.
Find out more #Oz4HumanRights



Imagine not being able to go to school because your family could not manoeuvre your wheelchair along the road that you lived on. Or not having access to basic toilet facilities because you suffered a serious foot injury after stepping on a landmine near your home, and aren’t able to walk up the stairs. Human rights are for everyone, regardless of ability. This is why Australia is committed to enhancing the opportunities of people with disability in our region and globally. Find out more about how we are how we are making a difference #Oz4HumanRights

Women are powerful agents of change for peace and security. Involving women in resolving conflict goes beyond gender equality; it is also key to improving the prospects of achieving lasting peace and development. Gender equality benefits societies, economies and the security of our region. It is also a human right. This is why gender equality and women’s empowerment are a vital part all of Australia’s aid investments. Find out how we are making a difference #

10 October 2017 - World Day Against the Death Penalty

To commemorate the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October, Australia’s Special Envoy for Human Rights The Hon Philip Ruddock MP highlights the reasons why Australia advocates for the universal abolition of the death penalty as part of a global trend #nodeathpenalty



Launch of Australia's first International Cyber Engagement Strategy

The Honourable Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, launched Australia's first International Cyber Engagement Strategy on 4 October. Australia's international cyber engagement champions an open, free and secure cyberspace. Through comprehensive and coordinated engagement on cyber affairs, we will maximise opportunities for economic growth and prosperity through digital trade. Australia will cooperate internationally to reduce the risk of cybercrime and promote peace and stability in cyberspace. We will advocate for multi-stakeholder Internet governance and respect for human rights and democratic principles online. We will partner to foster good cyber security practices and encourage the use of digital technologies to achieve sustainable development, particularly in our region #AusCyberAffairs

Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

The Australian Government will proceed with the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey of all Australians on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll. The process for the survey can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website.  The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Information Line can be contacted directly from overseas on +61 2 6252 5262. Charges apply.

Australians should make preliminary arrangements for participating by checking their enrolment with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).   Australians can also obtain information on registering as an overseas elector.  Ph: +61 2 61602600.

Please note: Australians MUST be correctly enrolled with the AEC before 24 August to participate. Unfortunately, you cannot register via the Australian Embassy. 

Key Dates
Thursday, 24 August 2017 - Electoral Roll closes for new enrolments or changes to enrolments (midnight local time).
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 - Commencement of mailing of forms and collection period.
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 – Requests for replacement material closes (6pm local time).
Friday, 27 October 2017 – The date all eligible Australians will be strongly encouraged to return their form by.
Tuesday, 7 November (6pm EST) – No responses received after this date will be processed.
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 – Statistics released.

Forthcoming Events

20 November 2017                  Catholic Healthcare Australia/Australian Catholic University reception

7 December 2017                     Launch of the Australian Indigenous Catalogue Launch (Collaboration of the Vatican Ethnological
                                                         Museum and the Australian National University) in Australia (Rome launch date TBC)

12 December 2017                  St Catherine's and Cranbrook Schools Christmas Concert

26 January 2018                      Australia Day commemoration events at Domus Australia

8 March 2018                             International Women's Day event


Recent Events 

10 October 2017 - Considering Connectivity as a Human Right

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Foundation for World Wide Cooperation hosted a conference on Connectivity as a Human Right at the Vatican on 10 October 2017.  Speakers included former Italian President Romano Prodi, XX Professor Nicholas Negroponte, XX Professor Jeffrey Sachs and UN United Nations Undersecretary and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.  The Conference considered progress to realisation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9(c) on affordable access to IT by 2030, and other SDGs with connectivity elements such as SDG4 on education, SDG5 on gender equality, SDG7 on energy infrastructure and SDG17 on science and innovation.  Australia collaborates with the UN on all these SDGs, and looks forward to continuing to do so during its three year term on the Human Rights Council from 2018-2020.  Australia is the first representative from Oceania and welcomes the opportunity to represent the interests of the region.

9 October 2017 - The Top End performing in Rome

Charles Darwin University's Voxcrox choral ensemble performed at John Cabot University for family, friends and students under Music Director Paolo Fabris (pictured right of centre in waistcoat).  Australian Ambassador to Italy HE Dr Greg French, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See HE Ms Melissa Hitchman and their families were moved by the repertoire of international pieces and Australian favourites.  The performance was the culmination of a tour including Milan, Florence, Castegnetoli and Rome.  The Embassies thank Voxcrox for sharing its talent and wish the ensemble safe travels home.

3-6 October 2017 - Australia's eSafety Commissioner and Australian Interpol Director contributing to the 'Child Dignity in the Digital World' Congress


Australia's eSafety Commissioner, Ms Julie Inman Grant (Photo 1 -  on the right with HE Melissa Hitchman on the left and the UK's Rt Hon Baroness Joanna Shields, founder of WePROTECT, centre), attended the Pontifical Gregorian University's 'Child Dignity in the Digital World Congress' from 3-6 October 2017.  Participants explored research on the extent of child sexual abuse online and best practice solutions, taking a multidisciplinary approach involving academia, business, government and NGOs.  Interpol's Executive Director Police Services (formerly with the Australian Federal Police) Mr Tim Morris (Photo 2) addressed the Plenary session on 4 October with a law enforcement perspective, outlining what we know, how serious is the problem, how prepared is law enforcement and where are the gaps in our knowledge? Congress participants met with His Holiness Pope Francis on 6 October, where the Congress' Rome Declaration was read out by Irish teenager Muiirean O'Carroll (Photo 3). The Congress was supported by Professor Dr Karlijin Demasure (Photo 4 - second from left) and the University's Centre for Child Protection team. Commissioner Inman Grant briefed Australian religious and friends on 6 October on Conference outcomes and the work of her Office (Photo 5).  Australia's Cyber Engagement Strategy was also launched on 4 October (see article above).

28-29 September 2017 - Celebrating PNAC Diaconate Ordinations

HE Melissa Hitchman, spouse Dr Adrian Hitchman, Deputy Alison Edye and Embassy Public Diplomacy Officer Ms Madonna Noonan celebrated on 28 and 29 September 2017 with Reverend Deacon Matthew Meagher (Archdiocese of Sydney) his ordination to the diaconate at St Peter’s Basilica, in the presence of family and friends from Australia, followed by lunch at the Pontifical North American College, an evening reception and thanksgiving mass.  The Embassy congratulates Reverend Deacon Meagher on his ordination. 



6 July 2017 – Celebrating NAIDOC Week - Indigenous student wins Rome scholarship

Nathan Pitt is the inaugural winner of the Francis Xavier Conaci scholarship which will assist him to study at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) Rome Centre this July as part of his International Core Curriculum studies at ACU’s Brisbane Campus.  Nathan is an Aboriginal student from Brisbane, with cultural connections to Yieman country.  The Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship recognises the life of an Indigenous Australian youth who, in the mid 1850s, travelled from New Norcia in Western Australia to Rome to study in a Benedictine monastery. Sadly, Conaci died while there and is believed to be buried in Rome. His story continues to be discovered.  The scholarship gives contemporary meaning to Conaci’s journey by enabling an ACU Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student to study in Rome as Conaci himself did 164 years ago. ACU and the Australian Embassy to the Holy See hosted a ceremony during NAIDOC Week to acknowledge the scholarship. It has been awarded in an auspicious year. 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in which Australians voted to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for them. It is also the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision which rejected the concept of ‘Terra Nullius’.  The Australian Embassy to the Holy See congratulates Nathan on this achievement and thanks ACU for its generosity in funding the Scholarship.  Further information is available here.

1 July 2017 – Strengthening Australia’s relationship with the Holy See through the Deputy Prime Minister's visit

 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP visited the Holy See on 1 July 2017.  This was the first Ministerial visit by Australia since 2014.  Minister Joyce met Secretary of State His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin (photo) and President of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson.  He and Mrs Joyce toured the Australian Collection in the Vatican Ethnological Museum with Director Fr Nicola Mapelli, as well as the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.  Following representing Australia at the Food and Agriculture Organisation on 3 July, Minister Joyce interviewed with Vatican Radio.  He said the Holy See had a unique role and standing in international affairs, and it was important this relationship continued.  Discussions were wide-ranging.  They included Australia’s global moral responsibility to increase food production to alleviate world poverty by ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.   Their Eminences and Minister Joyce also focused on Australia’s commitment to meeting our international obligations to resettle refugees from the Middle East and Africa.  They exchanged views on the Holy See’s and Australian Government’s shared commitment to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Read Minister Joyce’s media release here.

Useful information about visiting the Holy See

Visiting the Vatican - general information on booking various Vatican tours and tickets for events presided by the Pope