The New Weapons: Propaganda, Misinformation and Fake News

National Security College | Professional course
The New Weapons: Propaganda, Misinformation and Fake News


A host of global actors, state and non-state, are increasingly leveraging technology to harness the power of information – and using it as a weapon. What are the implications for global and national security? And is Australia prepared?

#132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

A fee of $1,300 (GST ex) applies to this course for Commonwealth participating agencies and NSC Partners. The open rate is $1,600 (GST ex). Dates TBC please contact:

Course overview

In February 2018, a US Federal grand jury indicted 13 Russians for interference in the 2016 US national elections. This reflects the extent of state-directed propaganda and misinformation targeting democratic institutions of a major western power. At the community level, extremist narratives are proving difficult to combat, demanding more of both government and society. A host of actors across the landscape of global technology are finding new ways to exploit the value of information – and using it as a weapon. This breaks down the distinctions between what is personal and what is political, using new avenues to seek advantages, and new ways to cause harm.

This course critically considers whether Australia is sufficiently prepared for and resilient against weapons of propaganda and misinformation trained on our institutions, and our communities.

Scope and content

This course explores the rise of propaganda and misinformation as weapons and considers the implications for Australia’s national security and the wider region by: - providing a strategic overview of the risk environment, incorporating hostile state actors, organised criminal syndicates, rogue businesses, terrorist organisations and other malicious network actors - evaluating the type and nature of harm that each of these actors poses to business, government and society, and - identifying ways to enhance resilience: whether this is protecting critical
systems, combating disinformation or safeguarding information holdings.

Who should attend?

This course is for staff working across government, including in strategic policy, social policy, communications, intelligence, assessment, cyber security and those responsible for data holdings.

Course details

  • One day, non-residential, fully-catered program
  • An ANU parking permit will be supplied.
  • Course timings 9:00am - 5:00pm


Please click here to register or contact us at for further information.

Course convenor

Ms Sandra Bourke

Sandra Bourke joined the National Security College in February 2018, on secondment from the Home Affairs portfolio, as a Manager in the Executive and Professional Development team. Her career focus has been on intelligence, criminology and defence, in particular delivering and managing technology as an enabling capability for national security.

Sandra’s career commenced in 1990 as a serving AFP Detective before moving into intelligence management positions at the former National Crime Authority and at the NSW Police. Between 1996 and 1998, Sandra also taught criminology at the University of Western Sydney (undergrad).

In 2004, Sandra established the first NSW Police Project Management Office. A highlight project was the establishment of the State Crime Command. This role led to broader PM experience in the private sector with a focus on technology. This included operational management at the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at Macquarie University.

In 2011, Sandra took up the position of Director, Air Force Improvement at Headquarters Air Command. In 2015, Sandra was transferred to Canberra under the Defence Executive Development program. She recently returned to the criminal justice sector, focusing on ICT capabilities for national security. Sandra’s academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (Education and Government) from the University of Sydney and a Master of Social Science (Criminology) from Charles Sturt University. Sandra is currently completing in a Master of National Security Policy (Advanced) at the ANU NSC.

Course presenter(s)

Associate Professor Matt Sussex

Associate Professor Matthew Sussex is the Academic Director at the National Security College. His main research specialisation is on Russian foreign and security policy, but his interests also cover: government and politics in Eurasia; strategic studies; terrorism and counter-terrorism; energy security; and Australian foreign policy. He is particularly interested in contemporary trends in violent conflict, especially in ‘hybrid’ warfare and in the evolution of propaganda. Prior to joining NSC Dr Sussex was Director of Politics and International Relations at the University of Tasmania. He has served on the National Executive of the Australian Institute for International Affairs and has been Associate Editor of the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He is also currently a Non-resident Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Dr Sussex’s research has previously been awarded funding by the Australian Research Council (Discovery Projects), the Australia-US Fulbright Commission and the International Studies Association, amongst others. Dr Sussex’s recent solo or collaborative book projects include Eurasian Integration, Central Asia and the New Geopolitics of Energy (Palgrave, 2015); Power, Politics and Confrontation in Eurasia (Palgrave, 2015); Violence and the State (Manchester University Press, 2015), and Conflict in the Former USSR (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

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Updated:  21 June 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/Page Contact:  Web administrator