ONA has a distinctive culture that is one of its main strengths and is remarked on by past and present staff as one of its most attractive features. Its hallmarks are teamwork, intellectual endeavour and integrity.
Despite our growth in recent years, ONA remains a small organisation. That fosters an open and non-hierarchical work culture. Whatever part of ONA you work in, you get to know your colleagues in other areas. That makes for a people-friendly environment.
ONA's job is to help the Government understand international developments and how they affect Australia. In a rapidly changing world, that's a huge challenge. It demands rigor in research and analysis and mastery of vast amounts of information. It calls for imagination, but also a disciplined sense of relevance to Government priorities.
ONA is about ideas, but it's not an ivory tower. Producing first-class assessments requires much more than analysis. It demands teamwork. Information can't be found and exploited, or stored and retrieved, without the right IT systems. Production and distribution of reports, often under demanding timelines; management of inter-agency and foreign intelligence relations; maintenance of security - in these and other areas ONA's culture reflects a strong commitment to collaboration and collegiality.
ONA operates under its own legislation, which stipulates the independence of its judgments. This independence is vital - it gives Government confidence in the objectivity of ONA's work. For those working in ONA, statutory independence underpins the integrity of what we do and our consistently high morale.
In ONA, we know that the world is increasingly inter-connected. So our culture puts a premium on collaboration, both within the organisation and in its dealings with other intelligence agencies and with the policy community. ONA is an intelligence agency and it serves the needs of Government. But to do its job at the highest level demands that ONA search out expertise wherever it resides. So we also interact more with a widening range of experts in many fields in the public domain.