Women in National Security: diversity in the national interest

National Security College | Professional course



This two-day intensive course examines challenges and opportunities for women leading, or seeking to lead, in defence, cyber, law enforcement, intelligence, border control and/or foreign affairs. Women in national security are having an increasing positive impact across these areas, adding depth and diversity to counter the current threats to security in Australia and globally.

Join us to consider the impact of gender on national security thinking, policy, decision-making, implementation and practice. Explore the value of women’s participation and leadership, and the risks associated with their exclusion or absence. Link theory and concepts, with experience and contemporary practice, drawing on frank insights from senior leaders and experts. Benefit from the insights of key speakers with experience and high-level involvement in Australia’s agenda on women and national security.

The program is designed for participants across government and industry, regardless of gender, and there is no minimum security clearance requirement.

The 2020 program is timed to coincide with International Women’s Day celebrations and will explore two primary themes: ‘leadership, diversity and representation– why gender matters in national security’; and ‘women tackling national security issues’.

The program opens with a Women in National Security Networking Breakfast, attended by 70+ community members and addressed by Director-General Australian Signals Directorate, Rachel Noble.


Please click here to register or contact us at epd.nsc@anu.edu.au or on (02) 6125 2233 for further information.

National Security College, Level 3, Crawford Building #132 , 1 Lennox Crossing, ANU

$2,250 (GST ex) for government, $2,700 (GST ex) open rate. Course is fully catered.

Course presenter(s)

Rachel Noble

Rachel Noble is the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate.

Prior to Rachel’s appointment as Director-General, Rachel was Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Rachel has served in positions within the private sector and across Government Departments, including senior roles in Department of Home Affairs, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Department of Defence.

Rachel was awarded a Public Service Medal for her work as the National Security Chief Information Officer and Cyber Policy Coordinator in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Rachel has a Masters of Business Administration in Technology Management and a Bachelor of Science with Honours.

Ms Gai Brodtmann

Ms Gai Brodtmann, was a former Australian politician, who served as a member of the Australian House of Representatives for the seat of Canberra representing the Australian Labor Party from 2010 until 2019. A career public servant, diplomat and later small business owner, she succeeded Labor MP Annette Ellis, who retired from politics at the 2010 federal election. Appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence following the 2013 Election, Brodtmann has been the Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence in the Outer Shadow Cabinet since the 2016 election.

Ms Elise Stephenson

Elise Stephenson is an award-winning social entrepreneur and researcher from the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University, Australia. Elise’s PhD presents leading research on women in international affairs, working at the highest levels of Australian foreign policy and security sectors to understand the experiences and impact of women in Australia’s international representation. Her current research is focused particularly on Australian diplomacy, defence, policing and intelligence sectors. A Fellow of the Gender and Governance Programme and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Elise is also an Australian representative on the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network and sits on local, state and national roundtables for LGBTI+ inclusion. Elise is recognised as one of ProBono Australia’s most influential Australian change makers, nominated for the 2019 Impact25 Awards. She is one of 2019’s 25 ‘Young Women to Watch’ in international affairs and one of Boston Consulting Group’s 30 Under 30 LGBTI+ Role Models. Driven to increase Australia’s influence within the region, Elise is currently the curator of a the Youth Entrepreneurs & Leaders Speaker Series, part of Australia’s largest public diplomacy program ‘Australia now’, in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This has seen her work directly with just over 3000 individuals from government, academia, civil society and NGOS across ASEAN in 2019 across topics of gender equality and more.

Major General Kathryn Toohey, AM, CSC

Major General Kathryn Toohey joined the Australian Army in 1987, graduating from the Royal Military College – Duntroon in 1990 was assigned to the Royal Australian Signals Corps. She has served in various positions; including on operations, at the Royal Military College Australia and as the Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General. More recently, MAJGEN Toohey has filled acquisition and capability related appointments. This included a posting to Belgium as the European Liaison Officer where she represented Defences capability interests. It was for her work, as the Director of Capability and Technology Management Course and Director General Integrated Capability Development respectively, that she was later admitted as a Member of the Order of Australia. In 2016, MAJGEN Toohey took leave from the Army to take up the statutory appointment as the Deputy Electoral Commissioner in the Australian Electoral Commission. Returning to Army in 2017 as Head of Land Capability, MAJGEN Toohey is now responsible for cradle-to-grave management of land capability. MAJGEN Toohey has several tertiary qualifications, including Honours degree in Electrical Engineering and an Executive Masters in Business Administration.

Sophia Hamblin-Wang

Sophia Hamblin Wang is the Chief Operations Officer of Mineral Carbonation International, a technology platform that transforms CO2 into building materials and other valuable industrial products. Sophia completed a Bachelor of International Business with First Class Honours at ANU in 2009. She has been featured in The New York Times and Time Magazine. An Australian representative at many international stages, Sophia presented on a panel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos, was a delegate at the first ever UN Youth Climate Summit in New York 2019 and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India in 2017. Sophia is a Founding Director of CO2 Value Australia, an advocacy group for technologies utilising CO2 into chemicals, fuels and minerals. A key part of her work is educating the public and policy-makers that carbon dioxide is a resource that can be turned into value-added products, and that utilisation technologies can make a significant impact to our climate change targets. Additionally, Sophia is a Member of the Australian Capital Territory Climate Change Council, Lecturer at the University of Sydney Business School and was titled Resource Innovator of the Year at the New Materials Summit in Berlin in 2018. As Curator of the Global Shapers Canberra Hub, Sophia also engages in many local, national and international volunteer projects primarily focused on Climate Change, Sustainability, Equity and Inclusion.

Ms Katherine Van Gurp

Katherine Van Gurp is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA), a role she commenced at the beginning of 2017. Since commencing, she has implemented a new forecasting and foresight role for policing across Australia and New Zealand examining future trends and implications for policing across Australia and New Zealand. Katherine is also an Independent Advisor on the AFP’s Strategy and Performance Board; the peak governing body for the AFP.
Katherine has over 25 years’ experience working across a range of law enforcement and justice agencies in Australia at the Commonwealth, State and Territory level. She has held senior executive roles in the Australian Federal Police, as the previous Manager of the strategic policy area, and with the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services, as Executive Director and Chief of Staff. Her areas of expertise include organisational change, legislative policy, strategic planning, environmental scanning, policy advice, organisational performance and risk management. Katherine holds a Bachelor of Business (Management) and has undertaken Bachelor of Laws studies. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and was awarded the Northern Territory Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year in 2013.

Dr Jennifer Hunt

Dr. Jennifer S. Hunt is a lecturer in the National Security College and a Research Associate at the US Studies Centre. Dr. Jennifer S. Hunt specialises in the national security of critical systems including energy and cyber. She has published on comparative national security policy in the US, Australia, and the Arab Gulf.

She currently leads two grants: •Foreign Interference and Cyber war (Defence Strategic Policy Grant), •Tracking Disinformation Across Terrains with computer scientist Dr. Marian-Andrei Rizoiu at UTS(ANU Policy Greenhouse Grant)

Dr Hunt has provided expert commentary on ABC’s Q&A, The Project, BBC, and the History Channel. Dr. Hunt holds a PhD and Master’s Degree in International Security from the University of Sydney. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (USA) where she was captain of the Women’s Sabre Fencing team.

Jennifer has served as a delegate at the Shangri-la Dialogue and attended the World Economic Forum in Abu Dhabi. She studied Arabic at the Qasid Institute in Jordan.

Prior to joining the NSC, Dr. Hunt was based at the University of Sydney US Studies Centre, the Centre for International Security Studies, and Sydney Business School. She has been student-nominated for teaching awards across security studies, business and politics departments.

Along with her academic areas of specialisation, Dr. Hunt also publishes on applied research methods. Together with Dr. Zina O’Leary, Workplace Research: Conducting small scale applied research, was published by Sage in 2016.

Dr. Hunt also holds a private pilot’s license.

Tony Sheehan

Mr Sheehan joined DFAT as Deputy Secretary International Security, Humanitarian and Consular Group on 2 October 2018. He was most recently Commonwealth Counter-Terrorism Coordinator from September 2016. In that position, he was responsible for coordinating Australia’s Counter-Terrorism arrangements for the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs and working in close partnership with Commonwealth and State and Territory agencies. Prior to that he served as a Deputy Director-General in Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which followed several years as Deputy Secretary, and then Chief Operating Officer in the Attorney-General’s Department. Mr Sheehan previously served as First Assistant Secretary Homeland and Border Security in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Before this, he spent 19 years at DFAT. He had overseas postings to Taipei, Beijing and Jakarta and then held a number of Senior Executive Service (SES) positions in Canberra with responsibilities for counter terrorism, people smuggling and other transnational issues.

Mr Sheehan is a graduate of Monash University. He majored in Mandarin.

Michelle Chan

Sue Bird

Sue Bird is the former Chief Operating Officer and Chief Counsel for the Australian Federal Police. Sue was responsible for leading the corporate and enabling functions that supported the overarching operations at the Australian Federal Police. A highly motivated leader with a special interest in organisational and cultural change management with a focus on business improvement, Sue has collected over 15 years’ experience in Senior Executive Service roles across the Commonwealth Public Service.

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