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Research and Innovation

Defence trade controls

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Defence Trade Controls concerns Researchers and Research Students who collaborate with people outside Australia on “dual-use” technologies - technologies designed for commercial or research use but with potential application for military use. These controls are covered by the provisions of the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012(DTCA).

Changes to the DTCA concern the ‘intangible’ supply, publications and brokering of defence and strategic goods and technologies listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL). Intangible supply occurs when controlled technology or information is sent from Australia electronically rather than in a physical form which may include supply via email, fax, telephone, video conferencing, or providing access to electronic files. The DTCA imposes substantial penalties on anyone who ‘intangibly’ supplies details of restricted technologies listed in the DSGL without a permit unless an exemption applies.

Importantly, these changes come into effect on 2nd April 2016.

What is controlled?

The DSGL is the list that specifies the goods, software or technology that are regulated when exported, supplied, published or brokered.

The DSGL is split into Part 1 and Part 2.  

Part 1- Lists military and related items which are designed or adapted for use by armed forces, or goods that are inherently lethal. 

Part 2 - Lists dual-use items that have a commercial and research purpose, but could also be used for the development or production of military systems such as nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Part 2 is divided into 10 further categories and includes several types of technology that may be an important part of the University’s research. This includes:

  • Materials Processing;
  • Electronics;
  • Computers;
  • Telecommunications and Information Security;
  • Sensors and Lasers;
  • Navigation and Avionics;
  • Marine;
  • Materials, Chemicals, Micro-organisms and Toxins;
  • Aerospace and Propulsion;
  • Nuclear Materials
Step one: Self-assessment

It is important to self-assess whether your work could be controlled:

  1. Does my work involve dual-use goods or technologies?
    Please use the DSGL tool at to answer this question. If the answer is yes, then consider the below question
  2. Do any exemptions apply to my work?
    Some research collaborations are exempted from the provisions of the DTCA, so even if your research is included on the DSGL, you may not need a permit.  The Exemptions are listed below:


Work in the public domain

If the technology is already available to the public, for example, in publications, product brochures and public blogs, websites, podcasts or databases, then it is not controlled. This exemption applies to all software and technology in the DSGL.

Basic scientific research

If the technology extends only to the "fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts", and is "not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective", this falls within the definition of basic scientific research, and would therefore not be controlled. This exemption applies to all technology listed on the DSGL.

Minimum necessary information for patent applications

This exemption applies to the supply of DSGL technology where it is done for the purpose of 'seeking a patent' in Australia or overseas. This exemption does not apply to nuclear technology.

Medical equipment specially designed for medical end-use

This exemption applies to equipment that incorporates an item controlled in the dual use section (Part 2) of the DSGL. This exemption does not include equipment that simply has a medical end-use.


You would generally not require a permit to publish or broker dual-use technology. However, at the discretion of the Minister for Defence, the Department of Defence may issue a notice to prohibit a dual‐use publication or brokering activity if they reasonably believe that it would prejudice Australia’s security or international obligations.

Please note there is a specific interpretation of the words supply and publication in this context. For more information, please see:

For further information on the Exemptions, please see

Step two: Further information and support

The Defence Export Controls Office (DECO) has training materials and scenarios which provides guidance for research- related situations:

If you feel as though your work may be controlled or feel unsure, please contact the CDU Export Controls Contact Officer in the Office of Research and Innovation at

We will support you in determining whether a permit is required. We may also be able to have your work assessed by DECO before you apply for a permit.   

If required, the Office of Research and Innovation will seek permission (on your behalf) from DECO before the intangible supply of controlled goods and technology can take place. Failure to obtain a permit when necessary may incur significant penalties.

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