Paul Pogba later scored the winning goal in the 81st minute, and goal-line technology was used to confirm the ball had crossed the line after bouncing down off the crossbar.
Referee Andres Cunha had initially thought it a fair tackle but was summoned to review the footage, and after a moment of deliberation, he awarded the spot kick.
Antoine Griezmann converted to give them the lead after a goalless first half, but Mile Jedinak struck from the spot to equalise minutes later before Paul Pogba's deflected strike hit the bar and bounced in for a late victor.
"That's disappointing but I think we can be proud with the way we played against one of the best teams in the world". "The referee did not bow his whistle, so I moved on with that".
The result makes it hard for Australia to get out of the group stage, with matches to come against Denmark on Thursday and Peru the following Tuesday. Mile Jedinak as captain stepped up and was able to sned Hugo Lloris the wrong way.
The French enjoyed a lion's share of the possession for most of the first half, but they were unable to carve out another clear-cut opening in the half.
It's the ideal start for France, whose ambition is to finish at the top of a group that also includes Peru and Denmark.
"‘I’m the best in the world", Neymar says
According to both reports, the Spanish tax agency has yet to agree to substitute a fine for a potential suspended sentence. We now have a classic between Portugal and Spain .
While Deschamps was giving nothing away on Friday, only three will start with Griezmann's form making him nearly certain to lead the line and the experienced Giroud perhaps the player to miss out.
Samuel Umtiti bizarrely put his hand up to alter the direction of a cross and from the resulting penalty, Jedinak calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner. But the French showed guts to secure the three points with a good pressing toward the end. Also, Hull City's Jackson Irvine would also come on in the second half to help Australia compete against France's all-star team which included the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Thomas Lemar.
"And then you have to take a decision - France or Australia". Having the more attack-minded Massimo Luongo joining Aaron Mooy at the heart of a five-man midfield, though, might just give the Asian champions the balance Van Marwijk wants between protecting the defence and providing a springboard for attack.
France's early promise quickly faded before they were presented with a ideal chance to break the deadlock in questionable circumstances 13 minutes into the second half.
However, it did not take much longer before France regained the lead.
Before Griezmann's feat, Mbappe had made history at kick-off by becoming the youngest French player, at 19 and six months, to start a World Cup game.