Statement of purpose and values

Our Vision

Antarctica: valued, protected and understood.

Our Mission

The Australian Antarctic Division advances Australia’s strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean by protecting, administering and researching the region.

The international context in which we work

The international governance of Antarctica occurs through the Antarctic Treaty System, which includes the Antarctic Treaty and its associated international agreements.

Australia has a long and close association with Antarctica, dating back to the 1800s. Australia was one of the 12 original signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, which came into force in 1961. Australia takes its responsibility as a Treaty nation seriously and actively works through the Antarctic Treaty System to advance Australia’s Antarctic interests.

Australia led the development of the Protocol on Environmental Protection (the Protocol) to the Antarctic Treaty, which includes the ban on mining in Antarctica.

Australia recognises the immediate importance of Antarctica as a priority location for conducting globally significant scientific research, particularly as it relates to climate change science. Australia places a strong emphasis on Antarctic environmental protection, particularly through the adoption and implementation of measures under the Protocol. Australia also seeks to pursue economic opportunities arising from Antarctic related activities (other than exploitation of Antarctica’s mineral resources).

The national context in which we work

Australia’s national interests in Antarctica have been endorsed and reaffirmed by successive Australian governments; these are based on the region’s strategic, scientific, environmental and potential economic importance for Australia. These include:

  • Preserving our sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT), including our sovereign rights over the adjacent offshore areas.
  • Taking advantage of the special opportunities Antarctica offers for scientific research.
  • Protecting the Antarctic environment having regard to its special qualities and effects on our region.
  • Maintaining Antarctica’s freedom from strategic and/or political confrontation.
  • Being informed about and able to influence developments in a region geographically proximate to Australia, and
  • Deriving any reasonable economic benefits from living and non-living resources of the Antarctic (excluding deriving such benefits from mining and oil drilling).

Further, a number of key policy priorities have been agreed regarding Australia’s future engagement in the Antarctic that will further/progress Australia’s national interests in Antarctica. These policy priorities set the context for the Australian Antarctic Program going forward, and include:

  • Maintaining and increasing Australia’s physical presence in the AAT, including through scientific research, facilities and transport capability and the ability to conduct activities in all parts of the AAT, the Heard Island and McDonalds (HIMI) external territory and their adjacent waters.
  • Maintaining and increasing Australia’s diplomatic presence and increasing Australia’s influence in Antarctica through actively engaging internationally in matters affecting Antarctic governance arrangements, including under the Antarctic Treaty and other international instruments.
  • Continually improving the environmental management of Australia’s activities and encouraging other states active in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean to do likewise. Delivering scientific outcomes that meet the defined policy needs of government.
  • Pursuing collaborative science and logistics relationships with states active in eastern Antarctica focusing on Australia’s key bilateral partners.
  • Pursuing possible economic opportunities arising from Antarctic related activities, including from:
    • Well managed Antarctic tourism
    • Sustainable, well regulates Southern Ocean fisheries
    • Australia’s Antarctic gateway cities (Hobart, Perth and Sydney).

Policy documents that articulate the national interests and policy priorities that guide and set the context for the Australian Antarctic program include:

Our shared values

In doing their job and making decisions, employees of the Australian Antarctic Division will:

  • uphold the laws of Australia and the ethical values of the Australian Public Service
  • accept professional responsibility for their part in pursuing AAD corporate goals and be personally accountable for their actions
  • be positive in responding to the needs of the Minister, staff and clients, and be honest, frank and forthright with advice.
  • be innovative, receptive to new ideas and responsive to new circumstances
  • strive to improve their skills and knowledge and give of their best to every task
  • be fair, considerate and cooperative in their dealings with others
    • sharing knowledge and skills,
    • avoiding preferential treatment,
    • respecting others’ confidence,
    • supporting others’ aspirations,
    • and being alert to others’ well-being and safety
  • always consider the impacts of their actions and decisions on the environment and seek the course which causes the least environmental harm

In performing its functions and making decisions, the organisation will:

  • strive for the highest corporate standards in ethics, probity and accountability
  • protect the rights of its employees
  • value and acknowledge its employees’ contributions
  • be flexible and receptive to innovation
  • actively foster a culture of high quality work and continuous improvement
  • provide employees with training and development opportunities
  • provide a cooperative, supportive, non-discriminatory and openly consultative working environment
  • take all reasonable measures to ensure that its employees are safe when at work

Service charter

The Department of the Environment’s service charter sets out the standards of service clients can expect from us, their rights and responsibilities and how to find out more about the department.