The New Weapons: Propaganda, Misinformation and Fake News

National Security College | Professional course
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International experts have been engaged by the National Security College to present on the use of information and its threat to national security. Join this unique program while they are all in Canberra.


A fee of $1230 (plus GST) applies to this course for Commonwealth participating agencies and NSC Partners. The open rate is $1450 (GST exclusive).

Course overview

The 2016 US Election was a watershed moment, in terms of the blatant use of state-directed propaganda and misinformation directed at the democratic institutions of a major western power. Extremist narratives are proving incredibly difficult to combat and demand more of government and mainstream society. A host of actors across the landscape of global technology are increasingly using information as a weapon. They are breaking 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 will consider whether Australia is sufficiently prepared and resilient for when the weapons of propaganda and misinformation are trained on our institutions, or our communities.

This program will benefit people working across the national security arena including strategic policy, communications, intelligence, assessment, cyber security and those responsible for data holdings

Scope and content

This course addresses the rise of propaganda and misinformation as weapons to consider the implications for Australia’s national security and the wider region by:

  • providing a strategic overview of the risk environment that includes 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 designed for staff from all organisations who would benefit from a deeper understanding of the increasing use of information as a weapon.

Course details

  • One day, non-residential, fully-catered program

  • An ANU parking permit will be supplied.


Please contact us at for further information and to obtain the registration form.

Course convenor

Ms Sari Sutton

Sari Sutton joined the National Security College in February 2016, on secondment from the Department of Defence, as a manager of the Executive and Professional Development team. Her career focus has been on international policy, in particular Defence engagement with Australia’s partners in the Asia-Pacific, capacity-building, inter-agency crisis response and multinational operations. She has worked directly on a broad range of bilateral and multilateral policy issues, including peacekeeping and arms control policy and the anti-personnel landmines treaty. She has managed bilateral defence relationships with a number of ASEAN nations, the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, and the coordination of Pacific defence cooperation assistance with New Zealand, France and the US.

Sari served as a civilian peace monitor in 1997 in the inaugural deployment to Bougainville with the regional Truce Monitoring Group. In 2001, she deployed to the Solomon Islands with the International Peace Monitoring Team. During 2003-04, Sari was posted to East Timor as the strategic policy and planning adviser to the East Timorese Defense Secretariat, working with a team of multinational advisers and UN officers. She returned to that country again in May 2006 on operations as the inaugural Defence policy adviser to the Operation ASTUTE Force Commander (International Stabilisation Force).

In 2008 Sari deployed to Iraq as the senior Defence adviser responsible for implementing the government’s policy to offer humanitarian visas to Iraqi interpreters working for the ADF, for which she was awarded a Chief of the Defence Force Commendation. On this mission, she worked jointly with officers from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship, and the International Organization for Migration.

Most recently she worked on personnel security policy development, governance, strategy and reform at the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency, and on South-East Asia and the Pacific at the Defence Intelligence Organisation. Sari has degrees in Arts (Politics) and Law from Monash University.

Course presenter(s)

Associate Professor Matt Sussex

Associate Professor Matt Sussex is the Academic Director at the National Security College His research specialisations include international security, Russian politics and foreign policy, strategic studies and international relations theory. His most recent publications have been in the areas of energy security, power relations in the Asia Pacific, security in the former Soviet space, and Australian strategic policy. He has received grants from the Australian Research Council (Discovery Grants), the Fulbright Foundation and the International Studies Association, among others. He is currently interested in information operations, hybrid war and propaganda, with particular reference to the Russian Federation

Dr. Alastair Reed

Dr. Alastair Reed is Acting Director of International Centre for Counter Terrorism (ICCT) in the Hague. His doctorate was research focused on understanding the processes of escalation and de-escalation in Ethnic Separatist conflicts in India and the Philippines. His main areas of interest are Terrorism and Insurgency, Conflict Analysis, Conflict Resolution, Military and Political Strategy, and International Relations, in particular with a regional focus on South Asia and South-East Asia. His current research projects address the foreign-fighter phenomenon, focusing on motivation and the use of strategic communications.

Dr. Craig Whiteside

Dr. Craig Whiteside is an Associate Fellow at ICCT, an Associate Professor for the Naval War College Monterey and teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is a senior associate with the Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and lectures at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School. His current research focuses on the doctrinal influences of the leadership of the Islamic State movement, the evolution of its political-military doctrine since 1999, and the tribal engagement strategy that fuelled its return since 2008. His doctoral research investigated the political worldview of the Islamic State of Iraq (2003-2013). He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Washington State University.

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