Democracy, Security, Trust and Integrity

What are the conditions under which liberal democratic states can remain strong, stable and reliable settings for human flourishing?

Parliament House Canberra

How can democratic states like Australia ensure that the people remain sovereign and that governments properly represent their interests? How do we ensure that our governments behave within reasonable limits, accountably and with integrity? How well are Australia's integrity institutions performing? What factors affect the perceived and actual legitimacy of Australian governments? What factors affect the perceived legitimacy of election outcomes and ensure the peaceful transfer of power? What are the underlying dynamics of political disaffection and rising extremism?  What can be done to enhance public trust in Australian state institutions? How does technological change impact upon these issues? These are just some of the questions that members of our Democracy, Security, Trust and Integrity (DSTI) program focus upon.

Members of the DSTI Program within the Stretton Institute have research interests in:
  • Forces that undermine democracy, both endogenous and exogenous.
  • Factors affecting the legitimacy of elected governments and election outcomes.
  • Democratic resilience and democratic self-defence, especially in relation to political extremism and ultra-nationalism.
  • Domestic and foreign interference with democratic processes, especially around elections and public opinion.
  • Factors affecting public confidence in political, legal and social institutions
  • Means by which to monitor and enhance the integrity and effectiveness of public institutions using a variety of approaches and policy instruments from political science, computer science, criminology, sociology and public law.
  • Measures to protect personal rights by monitoring institutional and executive over-reach, lack of integrity, cyber-crime and abuse of human rights, particularly those of minority groups.
  • Cyber-security issues affecting Australia's political, economic and social interests.
  • Challenges to Australia’s defence and security across both the physical and information domains.
  • Citizenship, belonging and our relationship to 'outsiders'.

All of the above is pursued with an Australian and regional focus.

For more information, contact the DSTI Policy research program director:

Professor Lisa Hill


Australia is out of the Top Ten in Global Anti-Corruption Rankings - Why? 

The Conversation | Professor Adam Graycar
The latest Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rankings place Australia 11 out of 180 countries. Read Institute Director Professor Adam Graycar's analysis on why in The Conversation.

Australia’s National Integrity System: The Blueprint for Action

This report, co-authored by Professor Adam Graycar, lays a blueprint for fairer, more accountable government. Findings are set out across 5 focus areas and 10 actions to prioritise over 3-5 years. The report is an outcome of an Australian Research Council Linkage Project led by Professor AJ. Brown (the lead author) from Griffith University. 

The Digital Dilemma: Countering Foreign Interference

Stretton Institute Policy Brief | Dr Melisssa-Ellen Dowling
Digitization of democratic processes in Australia induces new vulnerabilities that malign foreign entities can exploit to the detriment of our democratic sovereignty. Problems such as inauthenticity, data insecurity, and disinformation are amplified in today’s epoch of ‘digital era governance’.

Integrity in Government

Stretton Institute Policy Brief | Professor Adam Graycar
Delivering good public policy is hard. Good public policy is distorted when integrity is lacking, or where corruption is present. When it is, policy objectives are damaged and trust is diminished. This policy brief provides a general framing of issues.

Foreign Interference in Australian Elections

This Stretton Institute webinar, co-hosted with the Electoral Regulation Research Network  and the Melbourne School of Government, explored the threats posed to democratic legitimacy and functioning by attempted interference in domestic elections by foreign entities. 

Mapping and Strengthening Australia's Integrity Systems

This Stretton Institute webinar examined Australia's integrity systems and presented key results Australia’s second national integrity system assessment, an ARC Linkage project led by Professor Brown, and presents a way forward.

Democracy's Digital Demise

October 2020 | Research Tuesdays lecture by Tim Legrand, Associate Professor of International Security at the Department of Politics and International Relations and member of Stretton Institute.

Cognitive Dissonance? Contradictions in Australia’s Pacific Islands Policy and Discourse

September 2020 | Professorial Lecture by Joanne Wallis, Professor of International Security at the Department of Politics and International Relations and member of Stretton Institute.

Compulsory Voting: Strengthening Democracy

May 2020 | Research Tuesdays lecture by Professor Lisa Hill, Program Director DSTI and Professor Adam Graycar, Director of Stretton Institute