The Indian Ocean is a region of increasing importance, with booming economic opportunities, shifting power dynamics and rising geopolitical competition. To manage this transition some Australian policy-makers are advocating the practice of defence diplomacy as a mechanism to help mould cooperative practices and to build regional trust while dissipating potential or ongoing regional flashpoints. Australia's 2013 Defence White Paper identified Australia as an agent who can play a critical part in the emergence of certain types of norms as a means of conflict prevention and crisis management in the Indo-Pacific region. This paper explores the use of defence diplomacy as a means for seeking regional influence. It uses an innovative new framework of norm entrepreneurship to examine the choices facing Australian policy-makers in increasingly complex security environment. This paper argues that while Australia should aim to promote defence diplomacy as a central part of rising security dialogue and practice with 'like-mined' countries, there must also be careful reflection to ensure that this objective is a constructive use of a middle power's limited resources and influence.