Soft Power Review

The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper committed the Australian Government to conducting a review of the nation's unique soft power strengths and capabilities.

The White Paper defines soft power as the ability to influence the behaviour and thinking of others through the power of attraction and ideas. Soft power assets can include a nation's education institutions, its aid program, its tourism assets and economic strength as well as other elements of national identity such as lifestyle and culture.

DFAT is leading the review, which is a whole-of-government effort to ensure Australia continues to build soft power and exercise influence effectively. The review will consider ways to better leverage Australia's soft power assets and build effective partnerships to advance Australia's security and prosperity.

Australia starts from a position of strength towards the top of global surveys of soft power, but there is always more we can do to strengthen our influence on issues of national importance.

Our region is changing quickly and Australia's ability to build partnerships with other nations and people is becoming increasingly important. Rapid globalisation and technological advances are changing the way influence is exercised. Social media and digital platforms in particular have empowered individuals and non-state actors to shape outcomes on issues of importance to Australia.

In this context, effective diplomacy will require us to consider new ways to engage and a more systematic and sophisticated approach to harnessing our soft power assets.

Scope of the review

The review will explore options for the Government to maximise our soft power, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. It will do this by:

  • exploring the nature of attraction and influence in the changing global context, particularly in the face of rapid globalisation and unprecedented technological change;
  • identifying Australia's soft power objectives and Australia's key soft power assets and challenges;
  • examining policy options to build and leverage soft power assets to promote Australia's security and prosperity, and strengthen Australia's reputation in an increasingly networked world;
  • considering new and more effective partnerships with other governments, the private sector, development partners and civil society, drawing on examples of best practice.

Consultation

The review will be informed by a broad range of views in Australia and overseas. Interested parties are invited to provide a written submission by Friday 28 September 2018.

Email your submission to softpowerreview@dfat.gov.au

Submissions will be published on this website. DFAT is required to comply with the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and any submissions provided for the review may be the subject of an FOI request. The FOI Act includes various exemptions for disclosing information, including where material was provided in confidence or where it constitutes personal information. All requests for access to submissions will be handled in accordance with the FOI Act.

Last Updated: 14 August 2018
2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. Opportunity Security Strength. 
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