Navigating Uncertainty: National Security Executive Level 2 Development Program

National Security College | Executive program


This program unpacks and analyses the concept of national security and provides in-depth exposure to the full range of issues and challenges facing Australia’s national security.

#132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Places on this program are largely pre-purchased by Commonwealth participating agencies and NSC Partners. Subject to availability, a small number of additional places may be offered at a rate of $21,000 (GST ex). Please email to nominate for an additional place. Dates for 2020 TBC

Course overview

This program unpacks and analyses the concept of national security and provides in-depth exposure to the full range of issues and challenges facing Australia’s national security. You will form and deepen broad professional networks within the national security community, and engage in a trusted environment with thought leaders and senior practitioners on national security policymaking. There is a high level of access, including to current or former heads of departments and agencies.

To enrich the learning experience, there is an international study tour and a number of site visits within Canberra. These visits will expose you to current issues and the practical challenges of intergovernmental collaboration to achieve national security outcomes. Reality-based scenarios draw on the program content and leverage participants’ experience to examine approaches to navigating uncertainty for national security professionals at this level.

“I found the NSC EL2 Development program the most rewarding course I have undertaken in my APS career. The National Security College is a first class national institution and I am extremely proud and honoured to be a member of the NSC Alumni.”

Scope and content

The program considers the range of issues and challenges for Australia’s national security, and discusses the capability and capacity of agencies and departments to address those challenges. It covers federal and state responsibilities, the relevant whole-of-government architectures and processes, and measures in place to support both policy and crisis decision-making. It provides an opportunity to consider the roles and responsibilities of national security agencies and departments, and to reflect on current and future challenges for officers working on national security issues.

There will be a number of site visits to expose participants to current issues and to the practical challenges of national security. The program includes a component in an international capital city. This provides an opportunity for participants to extend their strategic learning from the program to incorporate the challenges and priorities faced by close international partners. Participants engage with senior figures from policy and operational agencies, providing perspectives on national security challenges from a state perspective, as well as lessons learned from responses to recent major emergencies.

Learning outcomes

The program will develop your capability to identify and address, strategically and collaboratively, emerging challenges in Australian national security policy. It will:

• challenge you to analyse the ramifications of a range of national security concepts and key drivers

• build confidence in developing and delivering high-level policy advice, designing operational responses and protocols, and implementing and reviewing the effectiveness of major government programs

• establish and deepen relationships across different elements of Australia’s national security architecture

• deepen your ability to navigate through uncertainty – becoming more flexible, aware, and resilient.

Who should attend?

Executive Level 2 (EL2) officers (or equivalent) working in both traditional and non-traditional national security agencies and departments who are involved in policy, strategic planning, capability development, operations or coordination will benefit from this program.

This program is designed for EL2 (or equivalent) officers of the national security community. State and territory officers, as well as senior managers from the private sector, are encouraged to nominate. A minimum SECRET (NV1) security clearance is required for this program.

Program details

• Three weeks, full time, non-residential

• Two day/night interstate/international component

• Fully-catered

• ANU parking permit supplied

• Limited on-campus accommodation is available for interstate participants (At participant’s expense)

• Course timings: 9:00am - 5:00pm


If you are a public service officer, please nominate through your agency’s Learning and Development Manager. Please contact us at for more information.

“I found the course one of the most informative and useful courses I have undertaken in the last 10 years with the APS. I learnt a lot and made some terrific connections which will be a benefit not only to me personally but to the broader APS.”

Course convenor

Mr Brad Fallen

Brad Fallen joined the National Security College as Manager, Executive and Professional Development in March 2018, on secondment from the Department of Home Affairs. Brad’s professional national security experience includes international relations, intelligence, Cabinet and ministerial decision-making, and policy development and delivery. As Senior Adviser International Cyber Policy in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) from 2014, Brad was part of the small team who delivered Australia’s 2016 Cyber Security Review and Strategy. He then implemented the Strategy for 18 months from the Office of the Cyber Security Special Adviser. Brad led PM&C’s National Security Committee Secretariat between 2011 and 2014, supporting Prime Ministers Gillard, Rudd and Abbott, and before this the Department of Defence’s Cabinet and Freedom of Information teams from 2008 to 11. He was Defence Adviser to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, the Hon Bruce Scott MP, in 2000-01. Brad studied South Pacific history at the University of Queensland before joining the Department of Defence’s Graduate program in 1988. Brad’s career in Defence focused on Australia’s regional relationships, and included three years as First Secretary (Defence) at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, and two years seconded to the New Zealand Government in Wellington.

Course presenter(s)

Professor Rory Medcalf

Professor Rory Medcalf has been Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University since January 2015. He has led the expansion of the College into policy engagement as well as education, executive development and research. His professional background involves more than two decades of experience across diplomacy, intelligence analysis, think tanks and journalism, including a formative role as Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute. In government, Professor Medcalf worked as a senior strategic analyst with the Office of National Assessments, Canberra’s peak intelligence analysis agency. He was also an Australian diplomat, with wide experience including a posting to New Delhi, a secondment to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, truce monitoring after the civil conflict in Bougainville and policy development on Asian security institutions. He has contributed to three landmark reports on nuclear arms control: the 1996 Canberra Commission, 1999 Tokyo Forum and 2009 International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. His earlier work in journalism was commended in Australia’s leading media awards, the Walkleys. Professor Medcalf has been prominent in developing Australia’s relations with India. He has been Associate Director of the Australia-India Institute and Senior Research Fellow in Indian Strategic Affairs at the University of New South Wales. He is the founding convener and co-chair of the Australia-India Policy Forum, an influential informal dialogue between the two countries. He has been recognised as a thought leader internationally for his work on the Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian maritime strategic environment. Professor Medcalf was a member of the expert panel providing independent advice on the Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper. His research areas include Australia’s security challenges, the further development of an Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian strategic environment, China-India relations, and prospects for maritime and nuclear stability in Indo-Pacific Asia, on which he has led projects funded by the MacArthur Foundation. He is currently chief investigator in a major two-year research project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, examining the risks to nuclear stability from new submarine-detection technologies. Professor Medcalf is a member of the editorial boards of Asia Policy and the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He is a Non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy with the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and retains affiliations as a Non-resident Fellow with the Lowy Institute for International Policy and the Seapower Centre of the Royal Australian Navy. Professor Medcalf also teaches the NSC’s National Security in the Indo-Pacific and National Security Policymaking courses. Visit his researcher profile.

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