Australia’s public diplomacy strategy

1. Our plan 2014–2016


Strengthen Australia’s influence, reputation and relationships internationally by promoting a clear and confident vision for Australia’s international policy agenda that reflects our core national interests and improves domestic understanding of DFAT’s role.


DFAT will advance targeted public diplomacy initiatives which promote our economic, cultural, sporting, scientific and education assets in order to underline Australia’s credentials as a destination for business, investment, tourism and study. 

The objectives of DFAT’s public diplomacy strategy are to: 

Advance Australia’s commitment to economic diplomacy, to underpin prosperity in our region to:

  • promote Australia’s competitive investment environment, open and resilient economy, predictable regulatory framework and commitment to trade liberalisation, strong education and training and excellence in science, technology and innovation
  • build understanding of Australia’s international role and commitment to deep integration with the Indo-Pacific region
  • strengthen Australia’s influence in shaping the international political and security architecture in ways which advance our core national interests
  • promote Australia as a contemporary, successful, diverse and tolerant nation; and an attractive place to study, visit, live and invest.


1. Promote Australia’s economic credentials and support our economic diplomacy objectives

Promote, internationally and domestically, Australia’s economic diplomacy agenda, which aims to deliver greater prosperity for Australia, our region and the world.

Communicate Australia’s commitment to the four objectives of economic diplomacy, across the Department’s foreign, trade, investment and development work, specifically:

  • Trade: pursue trade liberalisation through bilateral, regional and global trade agreements that open up new markets for Australian exporters and sustain a strong, rules-based architecture for global trade.
  • Growth: support global growth by using Australia’s aid program and other measures to promote economic reform and infrastructure and through regional and global economic cooperation fora.
  • Investment: promote investment into Australia and Australian investment internationally.
  • Business: advance the interests of Australian business overseas and the development a stronger private sector in our region, as well as promote Australian tourism.

A key goal for Australia’s public diplomacy strategy is to promote economic empowerment of women and girls and advocate internationally for the importance of women’s participation in political, economic and social affairs and leadership for achieving prosperity and stability.

Audience: Government, business, science, medical and research institutions, commentators, NGOs, host countries, women’s organisations.

2. Underline Australia’s deep engagement with the Indo-Pacific region

Emphasise Australia’s deep integration, strength and influence in the

Indo-Pacific region and our commitment to building deeper and broader links through the implementation of the New Colombo Plan (NCP) and strengthening regional political and institutional architecture. We will do this through reinforcing Australia as an engaged and active participant in the region.

Audience: Government, business, commentators, partner countries, cultural and arts sector and sports sector.

3. Advocate Australia’s vision for the international policy agenda

Emphasise Australia’s commitment to strengthening the rules-based international architecture, prioritising the G20 as the premier international forum for economic dialogue and cooperation, in particular our role as G20 Chair, and commitment to our term on the United Nations Security Council.

Highlight Australia’s support for global, regional and bilateral security frameworks and norms based on the United Nations Charter, International Law and our commitment to a well-functioning multilateral rules-based order.

Audience: Government, business, research institutions, commentators.

4. Promote Australia’s development credentials

Highlight Australia’s commitment to supporting partner countries in our region accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty through effective development and humanitarian assistance.

Audience: Government, NGOs, business, local beneficiaries of Australian aid, commentators.

5. Champion Australia as an open, democratic and diverse nation

Highlight Australia’s core values that underpin our commitment to democracy, rule of law, human rights and freedom of speech, cultural diversity, gender equality, respect for people with disabilities and respect for indigenous cultures and values.

Foster and coordinate enduring people-to-people ties across all levels of government and society that reflects Australia’s commitment to democracy, human rights, multiculturalism and freedom of speech.

Audience: Government, business, NGOs, research institutions, diaspora communities, commentators, cultural and arts sector.

2. Our approach

We will pursue these Public Diplomacy goals through approaches which engage audiences on contemporary Australia and which facilitate networks and connections between people and institutions to build understanding, trust and influence in advancing our national interests.

Cultural diplomacy and media visits

The Australia International Cultural Council (AICC) is Australia’s key international cultural diplomacy body. The Council’s programs strengthen Australia’s reputation as a sophisticated and creative nation with a

self-confident, outward-looking arts sector. International touring by Australian arts organisations enhances Australia’s cultural exports and support the financial sustainability of the arts sector by building broader markets.

The re-establishment of the AICC Board will provide strategic high-level advice to Ministers on the Government’s cultural diplomacy agenda and maximise arts and cultural diplomacy outcomes from the range of existing activities.

DFAT will draw on existing programs to promote Australia’s cultural exports and creative exchange:

  • The International Cultural Visits (ICV) program will support visits to Australia by leaders in the arts and cultural industry from overseas.  It will also generate improved commercial opportunities in overseas creative industry markets for the domestic arts industry.  The program will be broadened to include targeted exchanges/visits (inward and outward bound), with a particular emphasis on current and future AICC focus country programs.
  • The Focus Country Program for Indonesia (2014), Turkey (2015) and Brazil (2016) will strengthen and deepen bilateral ties, and facilitate enduring exchanges on Australia’s cultural, science, industry and education expertise.
  • The International Media Visits (IMV) program will support implementation of our key foreign and trade policy objectives by providing participant journalists and their readers with an increased understanding of contemporary Australia.  IMVs will be targeted towards Australia’s economic credentials, investment environment, and commitment to integration with the Indo-Pacific region, our sporting assets and our capabilities to host major events. 

Sports diplomacy

Sport is one of Australia’s great cultural assets.  DFAT will develop new initiatives to promote Australia’s sporting assets and expertise as a basis for building understanding of our culture and values, and strengthening links with institutions and communities in the region. 

Alumni engagement

DFAT will strengthen alumni engagement by facilitating contact and connections between alumni and Australian businesses and diaspora:

  • The Alumni Engagement Unit (AEU) will set a strategic, whole-of-government approach for engagement with both award and non-award (privately funded) alumni with the aim of promoting the alumni’s achievements and facilitating their ongoing connection to Australia.
  • The AEU will focus its efforts on supporting posts to implement targeted strategies to engage with priority alumni. This will include facilitating engagement with Australian Government agencies and business organisations and the provision of tools, resources, publications and communications material.
  • The New Colombo Plan (NCP) initiative will provide an additional platform for facilitating engagement between alumni and NCP Australians and the relevant home country businesses/organisations involved in work placements.

Australia Awards

The Australia Awards Fellowships program offers emerging leaders from the region an opportunity to undertake short course study, research and professional development in Australia, fostering institutional and people-to-people links. 

The Fellowships program will be aligned to Australia’s public diplomacy goals, encouraging Awards with cultural, sports, science and research institutions, alongside awards to support broader development priorities.

Foundations Councils and Institutes (FCIs)

The FCIs’ key institutional, private sector, NGO and people-to-people links will be leveraged more effectively for longer-term public diplomacy programs and as a conduit for brokering ideas on how to advance business, cultural, and sporting links with bilateral partners. DFAT will encourage FCIs to:

  • expand efforts on economic diplomacy including through facilitating dialogue between business leaders and business media exchanges
  • extend engagement with emerging leaders and alumni networks, including through the NCP and the Australia Awards.

Building networks of influence

An important priority for DFAT’s public diplomacy strategy is building new networks of influence and strengthening engagement with domestic stakeholders to grow public awareness and engagement with opinion leaders to inform understanding of foreign, and trade and development policy objectives and its relevance to the national interests.  DFAT will:

  • strengthen engagement with think tanks and universities (in Australia and overseas), including in Australia, the Australian Institute for International Affairs, the Lowy Institute and business groups and peak bodies to amplify our public diplomacy messaging, including in political and business circles
  • strengthen engagement with key private sector organisations, companies and NGOs including in-kind and financial support for public diplomacy events and outreach to broaden audience through the partner networks
  • cultivate non-Australian influencers across the political, business and cultural spheres, including youth representatives. For example, G’Day USA has found greater impact with a combination of both Australian and American voices speaking about Australia
  • use the working-holiday maker program, diaspora communities and expatriate networks in Australia and overseas to strengthen relations and reinforce messages
  • build networks amongst emerging leaders, through alumni networks generated by the NCP, Australia Awards, FCIs and broader private alumni.

Diaspora communities

Diaspora diplomacy is a key element in public diplomacy. The number and size of diasporic communities is increasing around the world providing opportunities for interaction through culture and between cultures.

Diaspora diplomacy includes ‘public diplomacy at home’ through outreach to diasporic communities in Australia as well as diplomacy conducted indirectly by Australian businesses operating overseas and increasingly by Australian-diasporic networks.

Further steps will be taken to engage diaspora communities. These would include instituting links to diaspora communities in Australia (including through Australia Awards and alumni) to strengthen relationships with their descendent country and to amplify public diplomacy messaging.

Investing in public diplomacy content

DFAT will draw on the capabilities, skills and expertise of the newly-integrated Department to:

  • plan public diplomacy campaigns, drawing on the programs of major cultural, sports, scientific and education partners, and support Posts to anticipate and capitalise on tours and events of our major partners for public diplomacy goals
  • make more effective use of communication technologies, including active use of online and social media as public diplomacy tools – through expanded social media initiatives, refreshed on-line media presence (Post and public diplomacy websites) and clear, coordinated guidance in public diplomacy best practice and techniques
  • strengthen branding, including co-branding with the national brand, Australia Unlimited, to strengthen Australia’s international profile
  • revamp the Public Diplomacy Portal as a current and information rich resource, providing content for local promotion
  • build creative and strategic partnerships, including with media organisations in Australia and overseas (media partners for conferences and events, sponsoring Australian media representatives to cover programs at Posts)
  • develop adaptable stock content from partners in the arts, sports and policy sectors to regularly post public diplomacy-ready advocacy material, key speeches and key lines, content on major issues which can be adapted for local audiences and context
  • leverage development-related public diplomacy funding and projects as part of a suite of public diplomacy activities, for example alumni seed funding.

3. Management of public diplomacy programs

A coordinated approach with portfolio agencies

DFAT will adopt a whole-of-portfolio (working closely with Austrade, Tourism Australia and ACIAR) and a whole-of-government approach in Australia and at Posts, for example, collaborating with the Office for the Arts, Department of Industry, Department of Education, and with from State and Territory Governments. 

To support coordination, DFAT will agree on simple annual work programs with these partner portfolio agencies outlining key priorities and practical coordination activities, with a priority focus on advancing the Government’s public diplomacy agenda.

Supporting longer term public diplomacy partnerships to develop partnerships and improve impact

DFAT will review the priorities and strategies annually in line with Government priorities and objectives.

Each year, Posts will be invited to present comprehensive three-year proposals for combined activities across all DFAT public diplomacy funding sources. This will support a more programmatic approach to public diplomacy, and create more sustainable and flexible approaches enabling longer-term relationships with key identified partners.  Posts will submit annual reviews and self-assessment of public diplomacy programs.

Measuring and evaluating benefits of public diplomacy investments 

Adopting a three-year time frame for DFAT’s public diplomacy strategy will not only ensure a less opportunistic and more strategic and thematic approach to programming – it will also provide a stronger basis to assess impacts and results, supported by improved monitoring and evaluation of activities.

Work is underway to develop methodologies to review impact and effectiveness. Initially the base-line for success will be set with our 2014–15 results by review of impact data (number of activities, number of key audience members reached, media reporting and commentaries, Post reporting against key messages) as well selected case studies, and we will seek to improve on those results in the subsequent two years of the plan.

The impact of digital communications will be measured through analytics and development of a Departmental social media dashboard. Online opinion polling (quarterly) will also be undertaken to track perceptions and evaluate the effectiveness of public diplomacy.

Key priorities and messages for 2014–2015

Key Message


Action Posts


Economic diplomacy is at the core of Australia’s international engagement aiming to deliver greater prosperity for Australia, our region and the world.

Promote the commitment to and successes of post, division and STO economic diplomacy strategies.

All Posts and divisions, led by TED and PCD

Deliver public diplomacy programs and campaigns to promote:


  • support for Australia’s year as G20 host highlighting the G20 as a vehicle to strengthen global economic governance and our objective for the G20 to become a more effective agent for collective action directed at delivering sustainable and balanced growth

G20 Posts, Geneva WTO and Paris OECD

  • trade, investment and general economic opportunities arising from FTAs in recently concluded countries, and those in prospect of concluding, including the TPP, Japan and Korea.

ASEAN and TPP Posts, Beijing, New Delhi, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington

Support platforms for business engagement internationally to advocate Australia’s open and resilient economy and the benefits of open markets and trade liberalisation.

All Posts

Deliver public diplomacy programs that promote Australia as an education, tourism and investment destination.

All posts with Austrade and Tourism Australia

Deliver public diplomacy programs that advocate for women’s economic empowerment and the importance of participation and leadership for prosperity and stability in developing partner countries.

Posts administering ODA

2, 4 & 5

Australia is the gateway to the Indo-Pacific

Deliver public diplomacy programs and campaigns to promote:


  • The NCP

Pilot Posts (Hong Kong, Jakarta, Singapore and Tokyo)

  • Australia as an engaged and active participant in key regional institutions, including ASEAN, EAS, IORA and APEC

All Indo-Pacific Posts

  • the 40th anniversary of Australia-ASEAN dialogue relations


  • Australia’s regional aid commitments.

All Posts

Promote positive people-to-people ties focused on the region through:


  • the NCP

Asian, Pacific and Indian Ocean Posts; Asian FCIs;

  • strengthening engagement with alumni networks of Australian-educated leaders in the region

All Posts

  • supporting links between Australian and regional communities.

All Posts

Deliver public diplomacy campaigns that support the objectives of the Government’s international scholarship program (NCP and Australia Awards).

All Posts

1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Australia is a trusted partner

Deliver public diplomacy programs and campaigns which advocate:


  • our agenda for Australia’s UN Security Council term


  • our agenda for Australia’s chairmanship of the G20

G20 Posts

  • our commitment to regional security and prosperity objectives.

Indo-Pacific Posts

2, 3 & 5

Australia is innovative and creative

Effective use of major sporting events including Cricket World Cup (2015), Asian Football Cup (2015) and Commonwealth Games (2018) to be held in Australia as vehicles for promoting our key messages and interests.

All Posts, FCIs and AICC

Deliver Public Diplomacy programs and campaigns to promote Australia’s

  • creative industries including film, digital, visual arts, performing arts and music
  • achievements in the fields of research, scientific endeavour and innovation
  • environmental sustainability.

All Posts, FCIs and AICC

Successful delivery of the cultural promotion programs in Indonesia (2014), Turkey (2015) including the ANZAC Centenary 2015 and Brazil (2016).

Jakarta, Ankara, Brasilia and AICC

2, 3 & 5

Contemporary Australia

Deliver cultural diplomacy programs which reflect Australia’s multicultural society, cultural and artistic assets, including those from indigenous and diverse cultures. 

All Posts

Promote a positive image of Australia and strengthen people-to-people ties through:

  • exchange programs
  • young leadership programs
  • 1.5 track and interfaith dialogues
  • regional tours that connect with local communities
  • Working Holiday Maker Program
  • sport diplomacy initiatives
  • science diplomacy initiatives

All Posts and FCIs

Leverage from networks of influence in Australia and overseas including

  • Alumni networks
  • Australia diaspora
  • Expatriate networks.

All Posts

Last Updated: 13 May 2014

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