A range of Australian Government agencies support the university sector by providing services, guidance, advice and assistance. They do so in areas including international education, higher education, national security, protective security and regulatory matters. The following summarises some of the agencies and departments.
On this page:
Department of Education
The Department of Education is responsible for national policies and programs that help Australians access quality early childhood education, school education, higher education, and international education and research.
Higher education and research are critical to build and maintain a responsive workforce and a strong innovation system, with the sector spanning undergraduate education through to senior research academics. A strong higher education sector also underpins the world-class reputation and international performance of Australian universities, attracts international students and researchers to Australia, and forges industry collaboration.
The Department of Education supports higher education and research through policies, funding and programs.
The Department of Education works with the higher education sector to drive innovation and areas of specialisation across universities, embed fairness and equitable access to university for prospective and current students, and to ensure our universities are financially sustainable and affordable into the long term.
The Department of Education also drives the Australian Government’s National Strategy for International Education 2025 and works with domestic and international stakeholders to support Australia’s trade in education services. The department fosters international collaboration and partnerships with foreign governments and sector stakeholders, identifies opportunities to expand international education engagement, promotes student and researcher mobility between institutions and facilitates the global exchange of knowledge.
Contact the Department of Education
Department of Home Affairs
National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator
The National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator coordinates Australia’s whole‑of‑government efforts to respond to acts of foreign interference by:
- engaging with the Australian National Intelligence Community in developing assessments of the threat, vulnerabilities and consequences of foreign interference
- coordinating outreach efforts and advice to sectors and systems at risk from foreign interference
- enhancing engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to strengthen their ability to challenge manipulation and coercion from foreign actors.
The National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator oversees the Counter Foreign Interference Coordination Centre (CFICC) within the Department of Home Affairs. The CFICC is available to assist universities in their engagements with Government on matters pertaining to foreign interference, including by directing universities to the appropriate Government agency to assist with specific enquiries. The CFICC has officers based in states and territory jurisdictions to facilitate this support.
Contact the Department of Home Affairs
- ACT: CFICC@homeaffairs.gov.au
- WA: CFICC.WA@homeaffairs.gov.au
- QLD CFICC.QLD@homeaffairs.gov.au
- VIC: CFICC.VIC@homeaffairs.gov.au
- SA: CFICC.SA@homeaffairs.gov.au
- NSW: CFICC.NSW@homeaffairs.gov.au
- TAS: CFICC.TAS@homeaffairs.gov.au
- NT: CFICC.NT@homeaffairs.gov.au
Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre
The Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre (CISC) drives an all hazards regime of critical infrastructure protection enabled by a stronger focus on cyber security. The CISC works in partnership with all levels of government and industry to help the owners and operators of critical infrastructure assets to understand potential threats — including foreign interference — that could impact their asset, and help them to plan and prepare for them.
Contact the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Outreach supports ASIO's mission to protect Australia and Australians from threats to their security.
ASIO Outreach provides advice to government, industry and academia on current and emerging security threats, and the design and application of security policy. ASIO Outreach provides advice drawn from ASIO's full range of information holdings and expertise, as well as from domestic and international partner agencies.
ASIO Outreach manages a secure website for security professionals. The website is free to approved subscribers and contains:
- intelligence reporting (marked OFFICIAL: Sensitive) on domestic and international security
- protective security advice in relation to espionage, foreign interference, and terrorism.
ASIO Outreach also provides:
- tailored briefings to senior executives on request
- think before you link campaign material that can be used to educate your staff about security.
Australian Signals Directorate
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), in the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), is the Australian Government's lead on national cyber security. The ACSC brings together cyber security capabilities from across the Australian Government to improve the cyber resilience of the Australian community and support the economic and social prosperity of Australia in the digital age.
The ACSC drives cyber resilience across the whole of the economy, including critical infrastructure and systems of national interest, federal, state and local governments, small and medium business, academia, the not-for-profit sector and the Australian community.
It is the hub for private and public sector collaboration and information-sharing, to prevent and combat cyber security threats and to minimise harm to all Australians.
More specifically, the ACSC:
- responds to cyber security threats and incidents as Australia’s computer emergency response team (CERT)
- collaborates with the private and public sector to share information on threats and increase resilience
- works with governments, industry and the community to increase awareness of cyber security
- provides information, advice and assistance to all Australians.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
The National Security Division (NSD) of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) advises the Prime Minister on how to deal with threats to the nation’s security. NSD is responsible for working with the Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator to ensure the effective coordination of Commonwealth government efforts to address foreign interference risks including in the university and research sector. NSD is also responsible for providing policy advice to the Prime Minister on security considerations associated with unwanted knowledge transfer of sensitive and critical research.
The Critical Technologies Policy Coordination Office (CTPCO) was established in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in July 2020 to provide coordinated whole-of-government advice on technology developments, opportunities and risks, and to recommend actions to promote and protect critical technologies.
As a coordination policy office, the CTPCO takes a balanced national interest approach to critical technologies, considering national security risks, economic prosperity opportunities and social cohesion objectives.
CTPCO’s aims are to:
- ensure Australians have access to cost-effective, safe, secure and inclusive technologies
- promote Australia as a trusted partner for investment, research, innovation and collaboration
- support regional resilience and competitive, trusted, and diverse technology innovation and international markets
- maintain the integrity of our research and capabilities; and enable Australian industries to thrive and maximise our sovereign IP.
The Attorney-General's Department’s (AGD) purpose is to achieve a just and secure society through the maintenance and improvement of Australia’s law, justice, security and integrity frameworks. AGD delivers programs and policies to maintain and improve Australia's law and justice framework; promote and protect government integrity and transparency; and uphold the rule of law. The department’s work is central to the productivity, freedom and wellbeing of all Australians. As part of its security and integrity functions, AGD administers the Protective Security Policy Framework and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme.
Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF)
The Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) assists Australian Government entities to protect their people, information and assets, at home and overseas.
The PSPF articulates government protective security policy and provides guidance for all entities to support the effective implementation of the policy across the areas of security governance, personnel security, physical security and information security. While the PSPF is mandatory for certain government entities, its principles and guidance represent better practice for all agencies and organisations.
The PSPF is applied through a security risk management approach, with a focus on fostering a positive culture of security within the entity and across the government. Entities realise the PSPF's outcomes by considering the framework's guidance and using security measures proportionately to address their unique security risk environments. This allows entities to apply the PSPF in a way that best suits their individual security goals and objectives, risk and threat environment, risk tolerance and security capability.
Contact the Protective Security team
Web form: Protective Security Enquiry Form
Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme
The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme commenced on 10 December 2018. Its purpose is to provide the public and government decision-makers with visibility of the nature, level and extent of foreign influence on Australia's government and political process.
The scheme introduces registration obligations for persons and entities who have arrangements with, and undertake certain activities on behalf of, foreign principals. Whether a person or entity is required to register will depend on who the foreign principal is, the nature of the activities undertaken, the purpose for which the activities are undertaken, and in some cases, whether the person has held a senior public position in Australia.
Contact the Foreign Influence Transparency team
Website: Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Public Register
Phone: 02 6141 3222 (Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme helpline)
Department of Defence
Defence uses a range of mechanisms, including export controls, industry security and research security assessments, to protect technologies and industries in the national interest.
Defence Science and Technology Group
Defence actively collaborates and leverages the university sector to ensure a safe and secure Australia and is home to the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), with a focus on developing innovative technologies that can be transitioned into Defence capability.
To do this, Defence’s research with Australian universities and industry is managed under a DRICS framework to assess security risks.
Contact the Defence Science and Technology Group
Defence Export Controls
Defence Export Controls (DEC) is the Commonwealth regulator for the export of military and dual-use goods and technologies in accordance with Australian legislation including, but not limited to, the Defence Trade Control Act 2012. Military and dual-use goods and technologies include:
- military items and technologies designed or adapted for military purposes or those that are inherently lethal, incapacitating or destructive
- commercial items and technologies that may be used or adapted for use in a military program or contribute to the development and production of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons systems.
Australia's export controls enable the responsible export of defence and strategic goods and technology where it is consistent with Australia's national interests and international obligations.
Contact the Defence Export Controls Group
Defence Industry Security Program (DISP)
Defence Industry Security Program (DISP) supports Australian businesses, and is also open to universities, to understand and meet their security obligations when engaging Defence projects, contracts and tenders. DISP membership:
- gives access to Defence security advice and support services
- advice and analysis on the latest security trends and threats to better inform security planning and practices
- provides confidence and assurance to Defence and other government entities
- can be mandatory for some types of work undertaken with Defence.
Contact Defence Industry Security team
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) promotes and protects Australia’s international interests to support our security and prosperity.
Foreign Arrangements Scheme
DFAT administers Australia’s Foreign Arrangements Scheme, which gives effect to Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (the Act). The Act fosters a systematic and consistent approach to foreign engagement across all levels of Australian government. It creates a scheme to ensure that arrangements between State or Territory governments and their entities — including Australian public universities — and foreign government entities do not adversely affect Australia’s foreign relations and are not inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.
The Foreign Arrangements Taskforce is available to support public universities to comply with the requirements of the Foreign Arrangements Scheme.
Visit the Foreign Arrangements Scheme website for more information, including a range of resources, fact sheets and frequently asked questions.
Contact the Foreign Arrangements Scheme team
Australian Sanctions Office (ASO)
The Australian Sanctions Office (ASO) in DFAT is the Australian Government’s sanctions regulator. The ASO is responsible for implementing and administering Australia’s sanctions regimes and, amongst other things, provides guidance to regulated entities, including universities on Australian sanctions law. The ASO also processes applications for (and issues) sanctions permits allowing otherwise prohibited activities. Such activities can include the provision of supervision or training in respect of otherwise sanctioned post graduate research projects or collaboration with otherwise sanctioned institutions. The ASO works closely with Defence Export Controls and universities to promote compliance and help prevent breaches of the law.
The ASO is available to support universities on sanctions issues which may arise when enrolling students from sanctioned regimes, collaborating with universities or academics from sanctioned regimes and receiving financial support from individuals or entities who are considered ‘designated’ individuals or entities.
The ASO is available to speak at relevant seminars, conferences and provide training sessions. If you are interested in a presentation on Australian sanctions laws. Contact us via the Pax Portal contact us page.
For general enquiries, the ASO can be contacted using the Pax Portal contact us form.
Web form: PAX Portal contact form
Department of Industry, Science and Resources
The Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) plays a central role in promoting a globally integrated, digital and technology-driven economy.
Its focus is on helping Australian industry, business, and research institutions navigate market disruptions and seek new opportunities, including those presented by digital transformation.
This support leads to the growth of globally competitive businesses to support job creation and a strong and secure economy.
DISR also invests in and supports scientific research, infrastructure, skills development, collaboration and engagement that underpins new discoveries. The portfolio supports research agencies to ensure they are well positioned to undertake high-quality research for Australia.
In addition to administering a range of competitive grant programs, under the Global Innovation Strategy, aimed at helping Australia’s innovative entrepreneurs and researchers to collaborate and utilise international opportunities, DISR provides additional resources to aid their efforts.
The International Collaboration Advice page on the DISR website provides a high-level summary of the key challenges and strategies that Australian researchers and institutions should consider when pursuing international collaboration. The factsheet also contains a series of links to additional support available from the Australian Government.
DISR is also responsible for policy relating to the Cooperative Research Centres Program, which links researchers with industry to focus on research and development towards use and commercialisation.
Contact the DISR
Website: DISR contact us
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