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DFAT Facebook Digital Media and Communications

DFAT needs to join a digital age

Every day a single American diplomat communicates with over a quarter of a million Indonesians using Facebook. Australia’s own diplomatic service (DFAT) doesn’t even use social media in Indonesia.

The latest report from the Lowy Institute, A Digital DFAT: Joining the 21st century – launched today on Twitter and YouTube – argues DFAT has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to e-diplomacy.

The report’s author, Fergus Hanson, met with the heads of the e-diplomacy teams at the US, UK and Canadian foreign ministries in preparing the report. He said: ‘a look at what benchmark foreign ministries are doing in this space shows how much DFAT stands to gain from adopting some of the many innovations these organisations have pioneered’.

‘Increasingly DFAT is cut off from important audiences, like the blogosphere, younger people and Australians travelling to remote parts of the world’, Hanson said. ‘The State Department, for example, maintains nine full-time Arabic language bloggers, two Farsi bloggers and two Urdu bloggers, yet DFAT is completely absent from this space’.

In theory yes, although part of Australia’s mythical self identity i.e. innovation and creativity, most prefer the status quo. In practice you would find that the personnel culture of DFAT (and other government entities e.g. DEEWR, DIAC, Austrade, Tourism Australia, state equivalents, universities and TAFE) includes perceived “neo colonial” high status and international travel opportunities, these facets would be precluded by more effective digital channels.

Already, similar roles can be carried out more effectively and economically from related Australian other language speakers both onshore and offshore within various social and business communities….

AIEC QUEST Australian International Education Centre Europe.

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