Introduction to Australia’s National Security Challenges and Policy Making

National Security College | Professional course
NSC brand image


This highly interactive one-week program introduces participants to national security. Designed for professionals needing insight into the national security environment and relevant government frameworks.

Course date: 
9am 3 June – 5pm 7 June 2019
9am 21 October – 5pm 25 October 2019
#132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

A fee of $4,750 (GST ex) applies to this course for Commonwealth participating agencies and NSC Partners. The open rate is $5,750 (GST ex).

Course overview

This highly interactive one-week program introduces participants to national security. Designed for professionals needing insight into the national security environment and relevant government frameworks, this program provides a grounding in the wide range of security challenges facing Australia.

It explores how different departments and agencies contribute to a whole-of-government effort and provides insights into the impact of current national security challenges.

The program also introduces participants to the legislative and governance frameworks underpinning national security.

Scope and content

Through engagement with leading Academics and senior policy leaders, the program enables participants to explore relevant national security issues impacting on their organisations.

This program analyses the concept of national security and considers the range of issues and threats to Australia’s national security. It examines the capability and capacity of the National Security community to respond to those challenges.

Participants have the opportunity to consider the roles and responsibilities of public and private actors across the national security dimensions. This includes reflecting on current and future challenges facing professionals working across a range of security issues.

The program includes insight into best practice policy processes and crisis decision-making.

“The program is fantastic, providing a framework for understanding the most important global and regional issues of our time, and how they impact Australia. It really helped me to understand the different – but inter-related – areas of government responsibility, and how my role as a public servant fits within that.”

Learning outcomes

This program will enable you to:

• examine Australia’s national security processes and arrangements

• recognise how your work, and that of your organisation, relates to the broader national security priorities

• outline how the national security community responds to the challenges and issues for Australia’s national security

• establish collaborative networks and professional relationships across the national security community.

Who should attend?

People who work, or who are commencing work, within the national security space and involved (or likely to be involved) in policy, strategic planning, capability development, projects, operations and coordination will benefit from this program. Due to the breadth of the program and the introductory focus, there are benefits for people from all organisations.

This program is targeted at people seeking to progress to middle-management. It also caters to middle and senior management from both public and private sectors (state and federal) with new or developing responsibilities in national security. International participants attend by invitation.

There is no minimum security clearance required to attend. Participants are expected to maintain the confidentiality of information covered during the program.

Program details

• One week non-residential, full-time

• Fully-catered program

• ANU electronic parking permit will be supplied

• Course Timings: 9:00am - 5:00pm


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

All nominations must be completed in line with your organisation’s requirements and approval processes.

“As a long time practitioner within this space I found this course as enjoyable as it was stimulating. Participants and lecturers were able outline new challenges, broadening the understanding of all involved. I would strongly recommend this course to those with an interest or involved in this space.”

Course convenor

Ms Sandra Bourke, Manager Course Design & Delivery

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 theoretical criminology part time at the University of Western Sydney (undergrad). In 2004, Sandra helped establish and manage 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 enrolled in a Master of National Security Policy (Advanced) at the ANU NSC.

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.

Australian Government logo
‘The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and The Australian National University’

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