Australian Government departments and agencies

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science leads Australia’s whole-of-government science initiatives and is the lead adviser to the government on science policy, interaction with industry, and science matters more broadly. The department incorporates a number of science agencies within its framework and that of the broader portfolio. It hosts the Office of Australia’s Chief Scientist and acts as the primary coordinator of science policy issues across government portfolios. Via the Office of the Chief Scientist it provides secretariat support for the Commonwealth Science Council and also works closely with the Department of Education and Training.

View the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website.

Australian Astronomical Observatory

The Australian Astronomic Observatory operates the Anglo-Australian Telescope and UK Schmidt Telescope on behalf of the astronomical community of Australia. These world-class facilities are amongst the most scientifically productive telescopes worldwide for their size.

View the Australian Astronomical Observatory website.

Australia and New Zealand Square Kilometre Array project

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a next-generation radio telescope due to be built in Australia and South Africa from 2018. When complete, it will far exceed the capabilities of any existing radio telescope allowing scientists to make ground-breaking observations and discoveries about the Universe. Australia is one of 11 countries in an international partnership working together to make the telescope a reality.

The SKA will be a major driver of innovation and Australia is already developing technology and capabilities as our science organisations and industry work to solve the logistical, computational and manufacturing challenges of a project of this scale.

View the Australia and New Zealand Square Kilometre Array project website.

National Measurement Institute

The National Measurement Institute (NMI) is Australia’s ‘one-stop shop’ for measurement and sits at the peak of Australia’s measurement system. Through the breadth of its activities, the NMI helps realise the potential of measurement to enhance Australia’s economic prosperity and well-being. NMI’s measurement expertise, infrastructure, standards and services are simultaneously world-class and practically oriented.

It develops and maintains Australia’s primary measurement standards to deliver internationally recognised measurement services to Australian industry covering calibrations, chemical and biological analyses such as food and environmental testing, sports drug and forensic drug testing, and training in specific measurement techniques. The NMI also provides support and advice on measurements made for legal purposes, assist industries to develop new measurement methods and administer Australia’s national trade measurement system.

View the National Measurement Institute website.


Australia’s ongoing social, environmental and economic well-being depends on the continued and cost effective access to satellite data. Australia’s Satellite Utilisation Policy sets out Australia’s use of space and space-related technologies and includes strategies that enable Australia to meet its national priorities through space and to ensure Australia meets its future space-related education and innovation needs.

Under this framework, the Australian Government Space Coordination Committee (SCC) was established to coordinate and prioritise the government’s involvement in civil space.  

Membership to the SCC comprises agencies across government with an involvement in civilian space activities. The agencies and the space-related activities they are involved in include:

  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science: government coordination, industry capability, licensing and regulation
  • CSIRO: space science and research
  • Bureau of Meteorology: space weather and earth observation
  • Geoscience Australia: position, navigation and timing, and earth observation
  • Department of Communications: satellite communication and spectrum management
  • Australian Media and Communications Authority: spectrum management
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: international engagement
  • Department of Defence: national security.



Questacon is a ‘hands-on’ interactive science centre that encourages learning about science and technology through participation. In addition to its exhibitions in Canberra, it manages the Shell Questacon Science Circus; a travelling outreach program that engages with teachers and students all over Australia, including in remote Indigenous communities.

View the Questacon website.

Inspiring Australia

The department, through Questacon, delivers Inspiring Australia, which is the national strategy for engagement with the sciences and works across all levels of government and industry to promote science and science literacy in Australia. The Inspiring Australia strategy aims to deliver a more scientifically engaged Australia where:

  • Australians are inspired by and value scientific endeavour
  • Australia attracts increasing national and international interest in its science
  • Australians critically engage with key scientific issues
  • Young Australians are encouraged to pursue studies and careers.
  • To help achieve an inspired Australia, the Government has allocated $28.1 million over four years in the 2014-15 Budget towards national science engagement strategies which include Inspiring Australia initiatives and Questacon programmes.

The Inspiring Australia report proposes a way forward for national leadership and coherent action in public engagement that will further harness the potential of Australia's investment in the sciences.

View the Inspiring Australia website.

Portfolio agencies

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is one of the world's largest and most diverse scientific and industrial research organisations, supporting Australia's industry needs.

View the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation website.

Australian Institute of Marine Science

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is Australia's - tropical marine research agency.

It plays a pivotal role in providing large-scale, long-term and world-class research that helps governments, regulators, industry and the wider community to make informed decisions about the sustainable use and protection of Australia's tropical marine estate.

View the Australian Institute of Marine Science website

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) conducts research and development across a broad range of nuclear science and technology activities. ANSTO works across areas such as health, environmental science and materials to find solutions to some of the biggest questions in science.

To find these solutions ANSTO operates much of Australia's landmark infrastructure including one of the world's most modern nuclear research reactors, OPAL; a comprehensive suite of neutron beam instruments; the Australian Synchrotron; the National Imaging Facility Research Cyclotron; and the Centre for Accelerator Science.

View the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation website.

Geoscience Australia

Geoscience Australia applies geoscience to Australia's most important challenges by providing information, services and capability to the Australian Government, industry and stakeholders.

View the Geoscience Australia website.

The Department of Education and Training

The Department of Education and Training is responsible for national policies and programmes that help Australians access quality early childhood education, school education, higher education, vocational education and training, international education and research.

View the Department of Education and Training website.

The Department of Health

The Department of Health works to ensure that Australia’s health system is world-class by supporting universal and affordable access to high quality medical, pharmaceutical and hospital services, while helping people to stay healthy through health promotion and disease prevention activities.

View the Department of Health website.

Health portfolio agencies

National Health and Medical Research Council

The National Health and Medical Research Council is Australia’s leading expert body for: supporting health and medical research; developing health advice for the Australian community, health professionals and governments; and providing advice on ethical behaviour in health care and in the conduct of health and medical research. NHMRC funding supports research across the full spectrum of health and medical research, from basic science through to clinical, public health and health services research.

View the National Health and Medical Research Council website.

View the NHMRC Guidelines and Publications.

Office of the Gene Technology Regulator website

The Gene Technology Regulator is responsible for making sure that work with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Australia is conducted safely and does not pose a risk to people or the environment. It is a national scheme that operates in all states and  territories. The Gene Technology Act 2000 provides a legal framework for how this should be done and uses an approach which is commensurate with risk. Gene technology has a wide range of applications including in crops, animal and human medicines and as a basic research tool. Sound science and rigorous risk analysis underpin the Regulator's decisions about GMOs, and are central to providing scientific and technical advice and conducting risk analyses according to the Risk Analysis Framework. This framework provides a guide to the current rationale and approach to risk analysis of GMOs used by the Regulator and the OGTR. The Regulator also seeks scientific and technical advice from a group of eminent scientists, the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee. Science forms the foundation for evidence based regulatory decision making that protects people and the environment from risks posed by gene technology.

The Regulator has a strong commitment to national and international scientific linkages including through the Australian Regulatory Science Network, OECD, Cartagena Protocol for Biosafety under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Staff of the office attend scientific conferences and contribute to peer reviewed scientific journals.

View the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator website.

The Department of the Environment

The Department of the Environment designs and implements the Australian Government's policies and programmes to protect and conserve the environment, water and heritage and promote climate action with the focus under four pillars: clean air, clean water, clean land and national heritage. The Department takes advice from scientists and administers a range of programmes and facilities that undertake scientific research.

View the Department of the Environment website.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources develops and implements policies and programmes to ensure Australia's agricultural, fisheries, food and forestry industries remain competitive, profitable and sustainable. Through specific programmes such as the ABARES University Vacation Employment Program (UVEP), and the Entry Level Professional Program, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources makes a difference to science by delivering economic and scientific research and analysis, and providing an evidence base for areas including biosecurity, climate change, drought policy, fisheries management, food security, forest management and trade.

Although the ABARES UVEP programme is currently on hold, the ABARES Entry Level Professional Programme is still running, and applications are now open for the 2016 intake.

Visit the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website and the ABARES website for more information.

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is a national leader in safeguarding Australia by delivering valued scientific advice and innovative technology solutions for defence and national security. Part of the Department of Defence, DSTO is Australia's second largest public-funded science and technology organisation.

View the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) website.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade works to make Australia stronger, safer and more prosperous by promoting and protecting our interests internationally and contributing to global stability and economic growth. The Department administers the New Colombo Plan (NCP) and the Australia Awards, and it promotes Australia as a destination for international students through the Study in Australia website.

Offering Australian undergraduates opportunities for scholarships, grants, internships and mentorships in the Indo-Pacific region, the NCP aims to lift knowledge of the region in Australia, build leadership skills, foster people-to-people links and further develop business and institutional relationships.

The Australia Awards offers the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development, providing international scholarships and fellowships for people in developing countries to study in participating universities and tertiary institutions in Australia.

Study in Australia is the official Australian Government website for international students to search for courses, institutions and scholarships, and read about studying and living in Australia. International students are attracted to Australia by its high standard of teaching, its internationally accepted qualifications, and a diverse range of study options for international students. Fields of study include natural and physical sciences, information technology, engineering and related technologies, health, agriculture, environmental and related studies.

View the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Share this Page