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Australia : History

Australia lies between the Pacific and Indian oceans. It is the largest island – and one of the largest countries – in the world. Its closest neighbours are New Zealand to the east and Papua New Guinea to the north. It has a large mountain range that runs down its east coast. Most of the centre of the country is covered by desert. The majority of its population live on the coasts. 

Key facts

  • Region: Pacific
  • Population: 25 million (2018) 
  • Area: 7.7 million square kilometres 
  • Capital: Canberra 
  • Joined Commonwealth: 1931, under the Statute of Westminster 
  • Commonwealth Youth Index: 1 out of 49 countries 

Secretariat support for Australia 


In November 2018, Australia used the Secretariat's good practice guide and recommendations to improve its management of elections. 

Human rights 

In September 2018, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative partnered with Australia to investigate working with civil society to improve human rights. 


The Secretariat is helping Australia’s La Trobe University prepare to run a course on global citizenship. Students will learn about different cultures and religions. 

Sustainable development 

In February 2019, the Secretariat worked with Australia to explore how best to deal with sea-level rise and climate change. Australia has included the Commonwealth’s Blue Charter Action Group activities in its budget and planning.  

Australia also provides support for the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub. The Hub helps small and vulnerable states secure funding to tackle climate change and experts in government departments to help with grant applications, strengthen climate change policy and build capacity.


In March 2018, in Durban, South Africa, Australia worked with the Secretariat to improve connections with trading partners. They investigated reducing physical barriers to trade – for example, by improving infrastructure. 

Blue Charter

Australia is a co-champion of the Blue Charter Action Group on Coral Reef Protection and Restoration, alongside Belize and Mauritius.

The Australian Institute of Maritime Science (AIMS) hosted a meeting in July 2019 where delegates shared ideas on achieving the goals of the Action Group. This included ways to improve government policies, build awareness, and empower communities, while also tackling barriers such as lack of funding, limited capacity and weak governance structures.

Australia is also a member of the Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods, Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, Ocean Observation and Sustainable Coastal Fisheries Action Groups.

Connectivity Agenda

Australia is a member of the Physical, Digital and Regulatory Connectivity clusters of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda. The Connectivity Agenda is a platform for countries to exchange best practices and experiences to trade and investment and undertake domestic reform.

Australia in the Commonwealth 

Australia provides support for the Secretariat's Countering Violence Extremism Unit. The Commonwealth Secretariat is uniquely placed to assist member countries in sharing good practice and harnessing the role of governments and individuals to prevent terrorism through early prevention and increased resilience.

11 Australian writers have won overall Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, 8 for Best Book and 3 for Best First Book.

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