Not quite the sum of its parts: Public diplomacy from an Australian perspective

Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published Version.

Byrne, C. (2010). Not quite the sum of its parts: Public diplomacy from an Australian perspective. Exchange: The journal of public diplomacy, Fall 2010, 41-53.

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© Copyright Caitlin Byrne, 2010


While public diplomacy has emerged as the subject of much attention internationally, Australia appears disengaged from the discussions and Australia’s public diplomacy program appears to be lagging behind. Closer examination of Australia’s public diplomacy program, coordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) reveals that public diplomacy is not well understood within bureaucratic and academic circles; is lacking in strategic coordination, and is consistently under-resourced. Indeed, when it comes to Australia’s public diplomacy, it appears that the whole may not be greater than the sum of the parts.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the current understanding and nature of Australia’s public diplomacy program, including key systemic shortcomings, in light of broader international trends and discussions. The paper aims to:
1. build upon a limited body of knowledge around the Australian experience of public diplomacy; and
2. engage Australia in broader scholarly and practice based discussion in an effort to deepen understanding and facilitate a reshaping of the program to better leverage public diplomacy as an instrument of strategic foreign policy.