EP#99: What does a whole-of-nation approach look like for Australia?

Whilst the ‘whole-of-nation’ approach is not new on the global stage, it is still a relatively new concept in Australian international policy circles. Amidst global challenges that demand more than just government action, it is also becoming increasingly vital. Unlike the familiar whole-of-government strategy, the ‘whole-of-nation’ approach includes a broader coalition, encompassing public sector agencies and actors from science, sports, arts, industry, civil society and more. But what are the nuances of this approach, and what potential does it hold for Australia on the global stage? 

In this episode, host David Pembroke welcomes Melissa Conley Tyler, executive director of the Asia-Pacific Development Diplomacy & Defence Dialogue (AP4D) and honorary fellow at the University of Melbourne. The discussion hones in on a comprehensive report published by AP4D in February, which involved consultations with 113 individuals from 93 organisations on the whole-of-nation approach. Throughout the episode, Melissa sheds light on the perceived benefits, potential barriers, and the critical balance between commercial and national interests. Tune in to discover how this approach applies to various areas, from major sporting events to climate change initiatives. 

Discussed in this episode:

  • The ‘whole-of-nation’ approach in the Australian context 
  • Consulting with diverse sectors on national engagement 
  • Necessity and benefits of a collaborative national strategy 
  • Challenges and effective strategies for implementing the approach 

Show notes:


Melissa Conley Tyler FAIIA

Melissa has extensive experience in Australian foreign policy, particularly in fostering Australia-Asia relations. She’s currently the executive director of the Asia-Pacific Development, Diplomacy and Defence Dialogue.  

She led the Australian Institute of International Affairs as its National Executive Director for 13 years, earning global recognition. With a background in law and conflict resolution, Melissa is known for her work in in fostering Australia-Asia relations through various Track II dialogues and is also known for her contributions to the discourse on diplomacy and international relations, notably co-authoring ‘Think Tank Diplomacy’.