Australia pursues a comprehensive & coordinated cyber affairs agenda


  • Enhance understanding of Australia's comprehensive cyber affairs agenda
  • Increase funding for Australia's international cyber engagement activities
  • Coordinate and prioritise Australia's international cyber engagement activities
Comprehensive & coordinated cyber affairs icon

The digital age presents a diverse range of opportunities and challenges for Australia. This Strategy captures the breadth of Australia's agenda for cyber affairs through its seven thematic chapters: Digital Trade, Cyber Security, Cybercrime, International Security & Cyberspace, Internet Governance & Cooperation, Human Rights & Democracy Online and Technology for Development.

The borderless nature of cyberspace means that the capacity and behaviour of other states, the private sector, civil society and individuals can affect Australia's cyber interests. Cyber diplomacy and outreach is essential to promoting and protecting Australia's national security, foreign policy, economic and trade interests, as well as our development objectives.

Australia's various cyber interests are all deeply interconnected. For example, increased internet penetration resulting from development projects promotes inclusive economic growth, while helping more people get online in the Indo-Pacific boosts our regional economy, creating new opportunities for Australia's private sector to market their digital goods and services.

Australia will work closely with international partners, both in the Indo-Pacific and across the globe, to pursue our cyber affairs agenda. Reflecting differing levels of connectivity and digital development in the region, our partners offer varying opportunities for engagement and collaboration. Some countries with particular expertise and capabilities will be key partners in the practical delivery of Australia's cyber affairs agenda, while others will be key beneficiaries.

As our neighbours become more connected, Australia will partner to build their technical, legislative and institutional capacity to fight cybercrime. This will not only preserve our neighbours' economic growth, but also prevent the creation of cybercrime safe havens that could be used to target Australians. Such capacity building also equips countries to participate more constructively in international discussions on the future of cyberspace. At the same time, investing in capacity building and improving international collaboration on shared cyber challenges helps to ensure that Australia and Australians can enjoy the benefits of cyberspace, while mitigating the risks.

In different combinations, Australia's cyber interests either reinforce each other or require conscious balancing. For example, overcoming barriers to development and successfully addressing cybercrime both improve the performance of the digital economy. In contrast, pursuing digital development without addressing the risk of cybercrime could be counterproductive. Similarly, chasing absolute security without considering the benefits of digital trade could lead to missed opportunities. Australia will reconcile the complex relations between these various factors by pursuing a comprehensive and coordinated approach to cyber affairs.

In recognising the significance of cyber affairs to our national interest, Australia will increase the understanding, funding and coordination of our international cyber engagement. Greater resources and a harmonised approach to international cyber engagement will ensure Australia achieves its goals in cyberspace.

Collaborating and cooperating with the private sector, civil society, academia and other governments will be vital to ensure that Australia's fundamental objective of an open, free and secure Internet is achieved.

Enhance understanding of Australia's comprehensive cyber affairs agenda

Cyber issues cut across almost all areas of Australia's international engagement. The prominence of these issues will continue to grow as global connectivity and technology uptake continue to increase. In acknowledgement of this, Australia will work to improve understanding of its comprehensive international cyber agenda amongst all stakeholders, both domestic and international.

Australia embraces a holistic idea of 'cyber capacity'. This includes a state's ability to: ensure people's rights online; achieve economic growth through digital trade; combat cybercrime; and engage in conversations about Internet governance and international security in cyberspace.

Australia will bring conversations concerning development assistance and cyber security capacity together, reconciling the goals, priorities and terminology discussed. Similarly, cyber capacity building will encompass important elements beyond purely technical training, including policy and legislation, education and infrastructure.

FIGURE 1: Australia's interconnected cyber affairs interests

A diagram showing the comprehensive & coordinated Cyber Affairs agenda. The diagram displays the methods of ensuring people’s rights online by highlighting the key areas of Digital Trade, Cybercrime, International Security, Internet Governance & Cooperation, Human Rights and Technology for Development.

This Strategy conveys Australia's comprehensive cyber affairs vision to the international community. This vision will be reinforced through Australia's ongoing diplomatic engagements, and will also be promoted to domestic stakeholders through regular consultation across the Australian Government and industry.

In order to deliver Australia's comprehensive cyber affairs agenda internationally, Australia needs those who represent the country to be equipped with an in-depth understanding of international cyber issues and Australia's interests in cyberspace. Australia will develop a Cyber Affairs Curriculum for its Diplomatic Academy. Courses will provide Australia's international representatives from across government with a detailed view of our cyber affairs agenda. The material will cover Australia's national security, foreign policy, economic and trade interests, and legal and development objectives regarding the Internet and cyberspace. 'Workshops in a box' curriculums that can be delivered to representatives already on international postings will further disseminate cyber affairs awareness. This will ensure that Australia's international cyber affairs agenda is not only comprehensive in concept, but also broad in stewardship.

Empowering the people at the forefront of Australia's international cyber engagement will be the foundation of Australia's coordinated approach to cyber affairs.


8.01 - Promote Australia's comprehensive vision of cyber affairs through ongoing diplomatic engagement

8.02 - Create a Cyber Affairs Curriculum for Australia's international representatives through DFAT's Diplomatic Academy

Increase funding for Australia's international cyber engagement activities

Australia's newly established Cyber Cooperation Program, announced by the Foreign Minister in May 2016, is designed to boost the resources behind Australia's cyber capacity building efforts. Projects funded by the Program will encompass the full spectrum of cyber affairs, whether that be raising the bar of cyber security, cybercrime capacity building, or pursuing economic and development goals.

While introduced with an initial investment of $1 million per year over four years, in recognition of the growing importance of this field, the Government has supplemented this funding with an additional $10 million over three years, taking the total investment to $14 million. This additional investment ensures that the priorities outlined in this Strategy can be delivered through practical action.

The Indo-Pacific will be the focus area of the Program's projects. This is where our capacity building efforts will have the greatest impact and translate most directly into gains for Australia. Australia will work with partners who have a well-established capability and complementary objectives. In this way, we will harness the existing capacity of the Indo-Pacific to deliver greater outcomes to the region as a whole, including to those countries who are at the beginning of their digital journey.

Australia will actively seek creative partnering opportunities with governments around the world and with civil society, academia and the private sector. Our combined resources, networks and expertise will be a force multiplier in pursuit of shared goals. The Cyber Cooperation Program will provide the support for many of the new international cyber engagement activities in the Strategy.


8.03 - Fund new international cyber engagement projects in the Indo-Pacific through the Cyber Cooperation Program

Coordinate and prioritise Australia's international cyber engagement

The breadth of Australia's comprehensive cyber affairs agenda means that there are many stakeholders across government who promote and safeguard Australia's international interests in cyberspace. The growing profile of these issues and Australia's increasing investment means it is becoming even more important to ensure that all of Australia's international cyber activities are effectively coordinated.

The Ambassador for Cyber Affairs will coordinate and prioritise Australia's international cyber engagement across the full spectrum of international cyber affairs.

Recognising that important work is already going on across Government, the Ambassador for Cyber Affairs will convene a quarterly whole-of-Government International Cyber Engagement Group. The Group will bring together all Government representatives with a stake in Australia's cyber affairs. This will help amplify the visibility of existing efforts, increase useful cross-departmental collaborations, avoid duplications of effort, and ensure an overarching direction and prioritisation.

As foreshadowed in the Digital Trade chapter, Australia will engage with a new dedicated private sector advisory body that will consult directly with the Government on international cyber issues. The Industry Advisory Group will provide the practical framework for Australia's public-private partnership on cyber issues and ensure that the Government collaborates with the private sector in pursuit of its cyber affairs agenda.

By adopting a comprehensive approach, boosting funding and increasing coordination of international cyber engagement across Government, civil society, academia and the private sector, Australia will ensure its prosperity and security in cyberspace.


8.04 - Establish a quarterly whole-of-Government meeting, convened by the Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, to coordinate and prioritise Australia's international cyber activities

8.05 - Establish an Industry Advisory Group that meets biannually to facilitate public-private collaboration on Australia's international cyber engagement

7. Technology for development