Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) now has a presence on the main digital platforms, but it is yet to master digital diplomacy: using these powerful new communication tools and platforms to better conduct its core mission of persuasion, influence and advocacy. There’s too much use of new media channels to transmit old media content, a tendency to duck rather than address difficult issues, and a failure to engage within the digital life cycle of a news story.

Data analytics and the integration of digital tools into mainstream diplomatic campaigns are both lacking. Beyond this, there’s a need to rethink how Australia does diplomacy in the digital age.

DFAT needs to find better ways to communicate with its stakeholders, using digital tools. It needs to recognise that increasingly statecraft is playing out in the cyber and information domains, and invest more in equipping itself to engage in those domains—even when such online engagement brings risk. 

DFAT must also reconceive its overseas presence and embrace some of the agility and nimbleness of the tech world in doing so.

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