Australia is at a critical juncture. Skill shortages, economic uncertainty, geopolitical tensions, and the onset of a new industrial revolution are collectively changing the domestic and global landscapes in which Australia operates. At Universities Australia, we understand that the Defence Strategic Review is driven by an intensifying sense of strategic urgency, based on a collective assessment that the challenges facing Australia threaten our national security.
This is being driven by the rapidly evolving threats in the Indo Pacific and, more specifically, by foreign powers intent on disrupting the post-WWII rules-based international order which underpins Australia’s values and interests.
At a time when Australia’s Defence ecosystem is facing some of the most daunting security challenges of the last century – when the need to rapidly increase capability has become critical – it has also become very difficult to find skilled workers. At the same time, the cost of Defence equipment is increasing, and the new Australian Government is dealing with major economic challenges.
Combined, these challenges amount to a wicked problem that resists simple solutions, but nonetheless needs to be addressed with urgency.
This submission demonstrates that Australia’s universities are positioned to work with Defence in addressing these challenges. The research conducted across Australia’s 39 universities in the Defence space is already significant, and forms a strong basis for continued expansion in terms of existing programs, new research areas, and also the ongoing development of the research workforce.
Given the proliferation of existing work occurring in the research space, in this submission we focus on how universities and Defence could work together in new and different ways to address the workforce challenges that will underpin every other challenge Defence faces in the coming decades.
Summary of recommendations
Part 1: Current contributions of universities to Defence needs
Part 2: How universities and Defence could work together to better meet national priorities in the future
Part 3: What Defence could do to help universities help Defence