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Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is releasing this Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda to elevate indigenous issues in the work of the foreign affairs and trade portfolio. It is framed by the Australian Government’s commitment to work in partnership with Indigenous Australians. This policy is about reconciliation in Australia and supporting the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. We commit to doing better globally as a portfolio just as we commit to doing better at home. This policy reflects a systematic approach to Australian diplomacy to bring to bear the full extent of Australia’s influence in the international system.

Our vision

We have a vision for a world where the rights and traditions of indigenous people are respected, where open markets facilitate the free flow of trade, capital and ideas for indigenous businesses, and where indigenous peoples are participants and beneficiaries of the international system. We will pursue four objectives to achieve this vision:

  1. Shape international norms and standards to benefit indigenous peoples
  2. Maximise opportunities for indigenous peoples in a globalised world
  3. Promote sustainable development for all indigenous peoples
  4. Deploy Indigenous Australian diplomats to advance Australia’s national interests

The Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda will guide our work in a complex and inter-connected world. The long-term trend of increasing mobility of goods, capital, people and information, as well as a growing interdependence of production and delivery systems, means that opportunities and challenges for indigenous peoples will transcend borders. Shocks, including natural disasters, health crises and economic shocks, can undermine growth, reverse hard-won development gains, increase poverty and disparity, and exacerbate tensions that can lead to conflict – with devastating consequences for indigenous peoples globally. International cooperation allows for global consensus to be built to address global issues. It is critical that the international system protects the rights and interests of indigenous communities and peoples - in both indigenous-specific and wider initiatives for all people.

Our actions

Our portfolio will harness Australia’s foreign, trade, economic, development and domestic policies for maximum impact for indigenous peoples. We reaffirm our support for the objectives of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Outcome Document of the 2014 High-Level Plenary of the UN General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. We will call for international processes and institutions to factor the interests of indigenous peoples into decision-making. We will call for decision-makers to address barriers that may prevent indigenous peoples from participating and benefiting from mainstream international initiatives.

We will advocate for the international community to ensure that indigenous peoples are included in discussions and decision-making on sustainable development – in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its commitment to ‘Leave no one behind’. We will seek to address the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequalities facing indigenous peoples around the world, prioritising gender equality and disability inclusion. We will also pursue initiatives that invest in the leadership of indigenous women and girls.   

Our portfolio will support an outward-looking Indigenous Australian business and tourism sector that are strongly connected to global markets. This will help grow the global economy, contribute to Australia’s competitiveness, give us access to new ideas and technology, and improve Indigenous Australian lives and communities. We will harness the soft power assets of Indigenous Australians in ways that add to our international influence. We will promote the excellence of Indigenous Australian culture, expertise and innovation to the world. We will work with domestic agencies to share our experiences in Australia and to learn from international experiences too.

We will work with domestic agencies to promote a Commonwealth public sector and foreign service that champions the talent of Indigenous Australians. We will empower the next generation of Indigenous Australian diplomats to prosecute Australia’s national interest. We will work with domestic agencies to support Indigenous Australian leaders to engage in the international system and lead on the policies and issues that impact their lives.

Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda

Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda info-graphic. Text version below.
Text version below.

Foreign Policy

Pillar 1: Shape international norms and standards to benefit indigenous peoples

  • Coordinate Australia’s foreign, trade, economic and development policy to influence mainstream international policy.
  • Shape indigenous-specific norms and standards in the international system.
  • Influence the work of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Trade and Economic Policy

Pillar 2: Maximise opportunities for Indigenous Australia and indigenous peoples in a globalised world

  • Grow the Australian and global economy through the promotion of indigenous commerce and investment.
  • Promote the excellence of Indigenous Australia to the world.
  • Support the global engagement of Indigenous Australia.
  • Enhance the global participation of indigenous peoples, particularly in international meetings on issues affecting them.

Development Policy

Pillar 3: Promote sustainable development for all indigenous peoples

  • Ensure that indigenous peoples are benefitting from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Deliver aid investments that benefit indigenous peoples in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Harness the talent of Indigenous businesses in the Australian aid program.
  • Prioritise gender equality and disability inclusion for indigenous peoples.
  • Promote international best practice on policies and programs to improve the lives of indigenous peoples.

Corporate Policy

Pillar 4: Deploy Indigenous Australian diplomats to advance our national interests

  • Source Indigenous Australian talent with the potential to succeed in critical diplomatic roles in the future.
  • Develop talented Indigenous Australian employees to build their capability for future diplomatic roles.
  • Maintain the engagement of talented Indigenous diplomats.
  • Deploy talented Indigenous diplomats to fill critical positions in Australia’s overseas network.
  • Foster a culturally competent network of Australian diplomats. 


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will lead on the implementation and reporting of the Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda, on behalf of the foreign affairs and trade portfolio.  Agencies in the foreign affairs and trade portfolio will continue to manage their own responsibilities under the policy. DFAT will coordinate closely with whole-of-government agencies on the implementation of this policy, to ensure consistency with their mandates on international indigenous issues.

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