About Us

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About Us

Know. Understand. Engage.

The mission of the Australian Institute of International Affairs is to help Australians know more, understand more, and engage more in international affairs. We believe that such enhanced knowledge, understanding, and engagement will best prepare Australia and Australians for the challenges of an increasingly complex world.

We are also driven by the principle that knowledge and understanding must be generated through engagement with different perspectives. Many of our members, staff, and researchers have strongly held views, but the institute itself, at all its levels, does not formally adopt a particular political position on international affairs. We are united by a belief in civil discussion and debate as the most effective method of improving knowledge on international affairs.

We thus provide platforms and opportunities for Australians from all walks of life to learn, discuss, and become involved in international affairs. We are a broad-based membership organisation made up of you, the general public, with close links to the academic, media, business, and policy communities.

Like other think tanks, we cater to the policy community by providing access to better knowledge on international affairs, but our focus is primarily on creating resources and spaces for debate that potentially benefit all Australians.

Local Engagement

We are Australia’s largest, longest, and only truly national public conversation on international affairs. Our branches, present in every state and territory capital in Australia, are a crucial point of contact with our most important stakeholder: you.

As a member of the public, you can join a branch at any time, where you will receive the opportunity to attend lectures, talks, and networking sessions with leading Australian and international experts on international affairs. Our increased virtual delivery means that as a branch member you will be able to access live and online most of the 150-200 events held each year across the branches of the institute.

Branches are independent entities, with councils made up of and responsible to their members. As a branch member, you can get involved and make sure that your voice is heard in how your branch organises its activities.

You will also be in excellent company. Many prominent figures in Australian foreign relations have been, or are, regular branch members, and many more contribute to branch activities. Our branches have a long history and played a central role in Australia’s international affairs across the decades. Some predate the institute as a national body and have been active since the 1920s. Our members helped establish the Department of External Affairs in the 1940s and led the nation’s first university departments on international relations.

National and international reach

Our branches are actively supported by our national office, founded in the 1960s and based in Canberra. Alongside branch support, the office’s primary activities are to coordinate the institute’s ongoing research and other activities. This includes regular and occasional publications, roundtables and events that put members of the Australian academic, media, business, and policy communities in touch with their counterparts overseas. The office also represents the institute on a national and international level. The specific activities of our national office include:

  • Maintaining critical aspects of the institute’s online presence, including a central video library of events, supporting the popular Australia in World Affairs podcast, and publishing Australian Outlook, our weekly online publication of short analysis pieces, book reviews, and a summary of Australian foreign affairs.
  • Oversight of the Australian Journal of International Affairs, the institute’s flagship journal and the most prominent peer-reviewed regular academic publication in its field in Australia.
  • Managing the publication of Australia in World Affairs, a five-yearly volume providing an update of Australian foreign policy.
  • Organising the AIIA national conference, the premier regular conference specifically focused on Australian foreign policy.
  • Organising special roundtables, workshops, and networking events for particular participants, such as the business, diplomatic, and academic communities.
  • Maintaining the #AIIANextGen Network, our international network for early career professionals with an interest in the international affairs of Australia and its region.
  • Organising and formally conferring the AIIA Fellowship, the institute’s highest award for individuals with a connection to Australia who have made a significant contribution to international affairs.
  • Supporting Australian research on international affairs by awarding scholarships and maintaining research fellowships.
  • Engaging important stakeholders on behalf of the institute, for example the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other Australian government departments, the Australian Parliament, foreign embassies and ministries, and key business and industry groups, media.
  • Representing the AIIA overseas, including through study tours, the organisation of overseas research roundtables, and support for the appearance of key figures of the institute at arranged talks and major international dialogues.