The Australian Department of Defence has awarded A$8.719 ($6.337m) in grants under the annual Strategic Policy Grants Program.

Think tanks and academic institutions were invited to participate in an open-competitive process and propose activities that could help inform the defence’s strategic policy advice.

Of the 59 applications submitted from Australia and overseas, a total of 20 recipients won grants this year for work on projects that will boost Australia’s national security.

Selected proposals are said to have direct relevance to defence policy interests and challenges for Australia’s future defence and security needs.

Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “Australia’s security can be strengthened by a more rigorous debate between policy-makers, think tanks, scholars and the broader public. Defence’s Strategic Policy Grants Program helps ensure that our best minds make valuable contributions to that debate.”

Pyne added: “I offer my congratulations to the successful applicants and look forward to their valuable contributions to strengthening Australia’s national security.”

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“Australia’s security can be strengthened by a more rigorous debate between policy-makers, think tanks, scholars and the broader public.”

The recipients are Australian Member Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (Aus-CSCAP), Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), the Center for Strategic and International Studies, China Matters, Flinders University, the Institute for Regional Security, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Lowy Institute, Macquarie University, National Bureau of Asian Research, and L21.

Other institutions include the National Security College, Australian National University, RAND Australia, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies Australia, SAGE International Australia, the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, and University of New South Wales.