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Media release: Group of Eight Measures to Safeguard Australia’s Research

“For the sake of Australia’s economy and for the future of all Australians, Group of Eight universities must maintain their place as world research leaders while working cooperatively with Government on issues of national security,” said Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson.

The Group of Eight’s Measures to Safeguard Australia’s Research released today, provides an overview of the programs in place at member universities to detect and target risks to Australia’s national security, as well as key laws and regulations Go8 universities abide by. These best practice measures demonstrate the Go8’s commitment to protecting Australia’s national security.

The Go8 accounts for approximately 70% of Australian university research activity, spending some $6.5 billion each year on research, a small proportion of which intersects with national security concerns.

“We are acutely aware of the unique and pivotal role we must play in helping Australia’s national security agencies safeguard our country and its sensitive research efforts. We are managing this risk seriously, responsively, and methodically,” said Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson.

“It is however critical to the future well-being of our nation and our post COVID-19 economic recovery that our leading research-intensive universities are able to get on with their core role of educating students and fostering innovative research, including hosting foreign students and collaborating with international counterparts.

“As the Director General of ASIO Mike Burgess told Parliament’s Joint Security and Intelligence Committee ‘Addressing national security risks doesn’t need to come at the expense of academic freedom.’ (11 March 2021)

“Australian universities have a world class reputation – we’ve made a significant contribution to the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, including in areas of social, economic and crucially medical research. We are committed to safeguarding Australia’s future, turning research into new industries and jobs, and building our sovereign capability.

“We are aware of the challenges of the current geopolitical environment and perception by some that Australian universities have not done enough to manage the threat of foreign interference. We have a responsibility to inform the Australian community about the many measures Go8 universities have in place to protect our sensitive research,” said Ms Thomson.

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472