The domain name was originally allocated by Jon Postel, operator of IANA to Kevin Robert Elz of Melbourne University in 1986. After an approximately five-year process in the 1990s, the Internet industry created a self-regulatory body called .au Domain Administration to operate the domain.
Oversight of .au is by .au Domain Administration (auDA). It is a not-for-profit organisation whose membership is derived from Internet organisations, industry members and interested individuals. The organisation operates under the consent of the Australian government which has legislative power to decide the operators of electronic addressing in the country.
Policy for .au is devised by policy development panels. These panels are convened by auDA and combine public input with industry representation to derive policy.
It is no longer possible to register directly in the second level of .au (such as mycompany.au). The naming rules for .au require registrations under second-level categories that describe a type of entity. .com.au, for example, is designed for commercial entities.