National security gets dual Flinders public policy boost

The Flinders public policy research group has won two grants in the 2019 Strategic Policy Grants Program, which forms part of $8.7 million in research funds to boost Australia’s national security.

Flinders is one of a small number of Australian universities to receive grants from the scheme.

Associate Professor Cassandra Star – Research Section Head of Politics, Policy and Global Affairs and co-convenor of the Environmental Politics and Policy Standing Group of Flinders’ Australian Political Studies Association – says the funding is a significant achievement for the research teams, which are investigating solutions to national Defence issues.

Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne, said the grants program is designed to support original initiatives that help inform Defence’s strategic policy advice, as well as support more public discourse on defence and security issues.

“Australia’s security can be strengthened by more rigorous debate between policy‑makers, think tanks, scholars and the broader public. Defence’s Strategic Policy Grants Program helps ensure that our best minds make valuable contributions to that debate,” Minister Pyne said.

Policy expertise on climate change

One of the Flinders research projects – “Developing policy expertise and a toolkit for evidence-based coordination of national climate resilience using a co-design professional development approach” – received funding of $114,000 to help Defence develop critical skills identified by the 2016 White Paper and 2017 Senate Committee report on Climate Change and Security. Investigators on this project include Associate Professor Star, Dr Peter Tangney, Associate Professor Beverley Clarke and Dr Joshua Newman, all at Flinders University.

“The aim is to build strategic coordination of national security and climate change resilience-building in the Indo-Pacific region, better enabling strategic partnership at home and abroad to enhance Australia’s national resilience,” says project co-Chief Investigator Dr Tangney.

Maritime operations in the Antarctic

The second Flinders project, with Professor Christian Leuprecht, has received funding of $122,000, to research Geostrategic Futures in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, to identify political, scientific, economic and environmental challenges for managing future maritime operations in Antarctic territories. This is a strategic interest noted in Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper.

“In 2048, the existing Antarctic Treaty System – to which Australia belongs – may end. This project takes a comparative approach to harness learning from international policies and institutions that have developed to manage a changing Arctic, and synthesise lessons to be learnt for the Antarctic and Southern Ocean,” says Associate Professor Star.

Together, these newly funded research projects present a unique opportunity for the Flinders public policy research group to collaborate with government to address real-world problems.

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