We regularly partner with universities, governments and private industry outside of Australia to meet our research objectives. In doing so, we comply with the Defence Trade Controls Act (2012) to ensure we protect Australia's national interests without limiting our research.

This page outlines ACU's requirements with respect to defence trade controls, as well as the support and resources available to our staff and students. 

Export controls

What are export controls?

The Australian Government has legislated strengthened export controls through the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA). The Department of Defence has put in place Australia’s system of controls (Defence Export Controls; DEC) that ensure the export of defence and strategic goods and technologies (including ICT) is consistent with Australia’s national interests and international obligations.

Controlled goods and technologies include:

  • Military items designed or adapted expressly for military purposes or those that are inherently lethal, incapacitating or destructive; and
  • 'Dual use commercial items and technologies that may be used or adapted for use in a military program or contribute to the development and production of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons systems.
  • The restrictions apply not only to physical (tangible) goods and technology, but also the supply, publication or brokering of controlled technology by electronic or other non-physical (intangible) means.

See the DEC Awareness Training Modules for an understanding of Australian export controls legislation, regulations and compliance.

How do they affect ACU and my research?

ACU is committed to complying with the legislation and export control systems while still enabling research, collaboration and dissemination of information. Compliance with this legislation is an essential component of the regulatory landscape governing research.

It is important to understand that the laws and regulations are not there to stifle or limit what we do. They exist to protect Australian and overseas interests by capturing any activity that involves prohibited exports (listed on the Defence and Strategic Goods List DSGL) and issuing permits where necessary.

Even if your research does involve controlled goods, technologies and activities, communicating this information to DEC and being issued with a permit will enable you to continue your work.

What does ACU need to do to be compliant?

The Research Ethics and Integrity team, within the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) (ODVCR) is responsible for ensuring the University’s compliance with The Act and that ACU is registered as a client with the Department of Defence.

In addition to communicating this information to all our research staff and students we:

  • Maintain a compliance framework and export controls record-keeping system;
  • Conduct audits of research undertaken at ACU to ensure compliance with The Act;
  • Facilitate applications for permits, where required, through the DEC;
  • Provide additional information, training opportunities and updates to researchers through this website.

What do I need to do as an employee/student at ACU?

If your research involves, or if you believe it may involve, goods and technologies included in the DSGL, it is vital that you confirm this by contacting Research Ethics and Integrity for advice. We will assist you in performing an online self-assessment (using the DSGL Tool) and reporting any use, development or production of controlled technology, or seeking further advice from DEC.

Remember, dual-use goods and technologies, including those that are intangible, are the most likely candidates at ACU to be classified as controlled – they are also the least obvious! There are scenarios in the Awareness Training Modules (see below) that will help you understand the practical nature and application of the export controls:

These scenarios will provide examples on how the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 impacts*:

*Reading these scenarios does not constitute a self-assessment

What are the consequences if I need a permit and don’t get one?

Conducting controlled activities that involve items on the DSGL without a permit (unless exempted) may result in harsh penalties and, depending on the circumstances, could include imprisonment.

Help, advice and contact information

Sebastian Gimenez
Research Ethics and Integrity Manager
T: +61 2 9739 2519
E: ResEthics.Manager@acu.edu.au

Information and resources

Relevant legislation and guidelines

Complying with the legislation

Resources and Forms

Guidelines and Training


Page last updated on 04/04/2024

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