Australian domestic terrorism and the sovereign citizen movement

Melissa de Zwart, Sam Hodge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This paper considers the threat to Australian national security posed by the growing ‘sovereign citizen’ movement. It identifies the key characteristics exhibited by those who may be associated with the ‘sovereign citizen’ movement, briefly outlining the origins and manifestation of these beliefs and actions. It concludes that despite the various and disparate actions of sovereign citizens adherents, its fundamental challenge to the legitimacy of government and its propensity to interact directly with law makers and enforcers, as well as the legal system, makes it an emerging threat to national security. This threat is exacerbated by the spread of sovereign citizen beliefs across online platforms and its cross-pollinisation with other movements such as QANON. The paper will then consider pathways to detect, vaccinate and rehabilitate sovereign citizens to remediate the threat posed to Australian society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2022 Technology Surprise Forum
Subtitle of host publicationResearch Papers compiled by the National Security College Futures Hub
PublisherANU National Security College
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventTechnology Surprise Forum - Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 1 May 20221 May 2022


ConferenceTechnology Surprise Forum
OtherThe 2022 Technology Surprise Forum (TSF), following on from the success of the forum held in 2019, highlighted a range of high-impact future technologies that could exert an influence on the Australian national security environment over the next five to ten years. By sharing insights into fresh ideas, concepts and emerging technologies, we have the potential to drive significant changes in the way Australia’s national security agencies go about achieving their missions.
The Forum brought together researchers and practitioners from across academia and government agencies to strengthen communities of interest that will continue to work together on research in areas relevant to national security. In a time of great change in technological advancements, we are presented with a range of opportunities but also challenges.
In the futures field there is an adage - we underestimate what today’s technology can achieve and over-estimate the impact of tomorrow's technology. Technology disruption occurs because we have underestimated the reach and impact of technologies that are on the verge of transitioning from innovations to new business opportunities. Technology is the result of accumulated knowledge and application of science skills and methods to produce a new capability. Technology surprise might also be the creative application of existing technologies. Often relying on bringing together many different fields of study to converge into a new
The objective of this forum was to crowd source ideas about technologies, or creative application of technologies, that need to be considered for National Security. The forum and this report connects those people who are in need of Science and Technology (S&T) solutions with the people whose bright ideas can help them overcome their challenges. Leveraging our networks across the S&T ecosystems to forge links between Australia’s national security agencies and researchers in Australian universities and other research organisations.


  • National security
  • Sovereign Citizen Movement
  • Domestic terrorism
  • Conspiracy theorists


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