Once a month The Interpreter publishes Digital Diplomacy links. As Australian diplomacy strives to catch up to the rest of the world these links highlight the most creative and effective ways in which countries are leveraging the internet for foreign policy gain.

  • Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is in solid catch-up mode and, while not a digital diplomacy strategy, the launch of a new three-year digital media strategy is an important step.
  • The strategy was not informed by an independent review or public consultations, but was informed by staff consultations. These identified that (a) staff want to do more in terms of digital engagement, but (b) are held back by the absence of clear guidance, sufficient skills and enabling tools – issues the new digital media strategy will be working to address.
  • The key for the Australian Government now is shifting from seeing the internet as a tool of communications to leveraging it as a tool of foreign policy. Another step in this process is getting beyond the foreign ministry obsession with social media.
  • In light of the new media strategy, Damien Spry analyses DFAT’s Facebook communications and Luigi Di Martino looks at buzzwords and online ‘listening’.
  • A new ‘DFAT blog’ was also launched alongside the media strategy. It currently hosts a number of posts by Australian politicians (Foreign Minister Julie Bishop included) and political appointees.
  • The DFAT blog joins those run by Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, Germany and the development-focused InnovationXchange team. Other blogs run by the Australian Government can be found here. The science and research focused CSIRO blog is a standout.
  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is also a blogger, but it’s now been a six-month dry spell for the PM who used publishing platform Medium to share his thoughts in 2016.
  • Dominated by Europe, Russia, the US, India, the UK and Israel, the Australian Government doesn’t make the cut in these new Twitter diplomacy global rankings but does receive kudos here for its suite of Tourism Australia-run social media accounts.
  • Australia’s foreign policy white paper taskforce, headed up by Office of National Assessments Director-General Richard Maude, is looking for public submissions and will be seeking to drive discussion through the #FPWhitePaper hashtag. More from the Prime Minister: