Human motivators and needs

Direction setting

Action and activation

Explaining Foreign Interference


Australian National University - Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation)

How might we develop an engaging online training program for countering foreign interference for our staff and students?

The Australian National University is widely regarded as one of the best universities in Australia and is consistently ranked among the top universities globally. In response to the University Foreign Interference Taskforce Guidelines the ANU approached us to create a suite of communication to explain and educate staff about foreign interference and ANU systems to mitigate foreign interference.

The challenge lay in demystifying the intricate and potentially dry subject of foreign interference while ensuring that the message resonated with ANU’s diverse staff, each possessing varying degrees of understanding and acceptance of the issue. The aim was to make this critical subject accessible and relevant to all staff members.

Our approach added substantial value to ANU efforts to communicate on the issue of foreign interference, tailoring communication materials to staff needs, and creating a comprehensive resource hub. This empowered ANU staff with the knowledge and tools to actively contribute to mitigating foreign interference risks within the university community.

We undertook a comprehensive approach to address this challenge through the following phases:

  • Audience-centric approach
    We initiated the project by conducting in-depth conversations with a broad range of ANU staff, gauging their understanding and perceptions of foreign interference. This audience-centric approach ensured that the communication materials would be tailored to the needs and perspectives of the staff.
  • Training videos
    Recognising that foreign interference is a complex issue, we created a suite of training videos designed to resonate with staff members. The key to success was keeping the messaging simple, focused on the staff, and presented in an engaging format that encouraged comprehension.
  • Comprehensive communications material
    In addition to the training videos, we developed a range of supporting communication materials. This included an article for the ANU Reporter, fact sheets, and content for the ANU website.
  • Website development
    We also took on the task of developing a dedicated web presence to host the communication materials. The website served as a centralised resource hub for staff seeking information and education on foreign interference and mitigation efforts by the ANU.


Greater value for their audiences was achieved by:


  • Accessible education
    The suite of training videos made the complex issue of foreign interference accessible to all staff members, regardless of their prior knowledge or familiarity with the topic.
  • Tailored messaging
    By conducting interviews and gaining insights from staff, we ensured that the communication materials resonated with the target audience, enhancing comprehension and engagement.
  • Comprehensive resource hub
    The dedicated website became a central resource hub, providing staff with easy access to essential information and materials related to foreign interference and mitigation.
  • Simplified understanding
    We simplified the messaging to focus on staff, making the content relatable and actionable, thereby increasing the likelihood of staff members understanding and adhering to the guidelines.
  • Enhanced awareness
    The project significantly raised awareness among staff about the issue of foreign interference and ANU proactive measures to address it.