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The Australian National University

National Security Senior Executive Development Program (NSSEDP)

The National Security College’s premium program provides exceptional depth
of insight across the full spectrum of Australia’s national security challenges and opportunities. It is an immersive four week course that focuses on trusted exchanges of insights with about 100 of Australia’s foremost policy practitioners and experts including serving and former heads of government departments and agencies. You will also engage with private sector leaders and international perspectives, including heads of foreign missions in Canberra.

Key areas of attention include fostering whole-of-government and whole-of-nation responses to contemporary and future security problems with an emphasis on the vital role of leadership. The program will challenge you to identify and address, strategically and collaboratively, the emerging challenges in Australian national security policy. There is in-depth analysis of contemporary events, along with hypothetical scenarios and sensitive case studies.

The program includes both international and interstate visits for high level insights into how other governments manage security challenges. (In 2016, these will be to New Zealand and Victoria). Participants will form and deepen high level professional contacts. We are confident that you will build trusted networks with other leaders, which the College will help sustain through its alumni program.

Who should attend the program?

SES Band 1 (or equivalent) officers from the broad national security community who are involved, or may be involved, in developing and implementing strategic policy frameworks and/or managing practical responses to national security issues will benefit from this program. The program will develop the ability of participants to identify and address, strategically and collaboratively, the emerging challenges in Australian national security policy. It provides the opportunity to engage with leaders of the national security community, consider the current and evolving issues faced by the community and discuss the options to address those issues. Participants will develop strong professional contacts based on shared expertise. They will build trusted networks with other leaders, assisted by the ongoing engagement and support provided by the National Security College’s alumni program.

Program scope and content

The program provides a contemporary perspective on the evolution of the national security community and the intersection between domestic and international issues. It incorporates sessions focused on strategic assessment of key regional countries and current security hot-spots, and examines Australia’s management of these challenges. Other sessions cover key thematic issues influencing national security policy-making and strategy planning across the spectrum of traditional and non-traditional national security issues. The program examines approaches to building resilience through capability planning and strategies for managing risk and opportunity.

Dates and venue

30 October – 24 November 2017
National Security College
Crawford Building #132
1 Lennox Crossing
The Australian National University

Target audience

This program is open to Senior Executive Service Band 1/Military One Star (or equivalent) officers of the national security community. State and Territory officials are encouraged to nominate. A minimum SECRET (NV1) security clearance is required for this program.


Please contact us to obtain the nomination form and submit this, in line with individual departmental requirements and processes, to Nominations close two weeks prior to the commencement of the course.


The fee for this program is $27,000 (GST exclusive).The fee for this program is $27,000 (GST exclusive) for Commonwealth participating agencies and NSC Partners. The open rate is $32,000 (GST exclusive). Agencies have funded cluster allocations - additional places may be considered on a fee-for-service basis. Please contact us for information about becoming an NSC Partner organisation.

Program details

This is a four week, full time, non-residential program (with an interstate and international component). This is a fully-catered program and an ANU electronic parking permit will be supplied. There is a requirement for each participant to hold a valid passport.


Further information

Interstate and international travel

The third week of the program is committed to interstate and international travel. The week provides an opportunity for participants to extend their strategic learning from the first two weeks of the program to incorporate the challenges and priorities faced by State agencies and an international partner. Participants engage with senior officers from policy and operational agencies, who provide perspectives on the development and implementation of policy to address national security challenges. They also provide reflections on personal challenges and lessons learned from responses to recent major events and national disasters.

Syndicate exercises

Small group, hypothetical scenario activities provide a practical complement to the strategic and thematic perspectives of the plenary sessions. The syndicate activities employ reality-based scenarios to draw on the program content and the experience brought by participants to examine the practical implications for national security policy and decision-making.


This program is practical and interactive. Through facilitated discussion, it identifies and explores the complex and important issues facing the participants and their agencies. A range of learning approaches is employed including discussions, case studies, guest speakers, site visits (in Canberra, interstate and internationally), review and reflection time, hypothetical scenarios and syndicate exercises. Speakers are drawn from the public sector, academia and the private sector. They have recognised expertise and practical experience in their presentation fields.

Outcomes and structure

Learning outcomes

The NSSEDP will improve participants' understanding of, and ability to harness and contribute to, the expanded national security community. In particular, participants will be better able to:

  • synthesise and evaluate policy options to meet emerging challenges to national security
  • synthesise and evaluate strategy options in unfamiliar and complex national security situations
  • promote collaborative leadership, build trusted networks and employ risk as a management tool
  • contribute positively to the developing national security architecture.

Program themes

  • Theme A: Australia's national security environment.

    • Provides a thorough understanding of the national security environment including traditional, non-traditional and emerging challenges. Sessions covered under this theme will include the strategic environment, translating assessments into policy responses, international terrorism, globalisation, fragile states, cyber security, border security, proliferation and counter-proliferation, serious and organised crime, modern conflicts, natural disasters, climate change and resource security, and the economy and national security.
  • Theme B: Australia's national security architecture.

    • Provides a thorough understanding of the national security architecture including the capabilities, priorities and challenges of the expanded national security community. Sessions covered under this theme will include the National Security Statement and the role of the National Security Adviser, visits to the major national security agencies, a visit to an overseas mission, visits to state governments and industry, the roles and capabilities of other national security actors such as the community sector and academia, information sharing, the National Security Strategy Planning Process and Budget, resilience and emergency management, a media perspective on national security, non-government influences on national security policy, health and national security, international perspectives on national security policymaking, and innovation, technology and research in national security.
  • Theme C: Collaborative leadership.

    • Provides an enhanced ability to deliver high quality, whole-of-government national security outcomes, and improved collaborative leadership capabilities. Sessions covered under this theme will include thinking strategically about policy, implementing national security policy, leading cultural change, ethical decision-making and accountability, a reflection on the leadership and risk in national security, a ministerial perspective on national security policy, civil-military cooperation, and leadership in the public service and national security community.


"The month long National Security Senior Executive Development Program is the best professional development course I have undertaken and has fundamentally changed my approach to my work and career more broadly. The course was well organised and very well run, including the overseas component. Highlights of the course are gaining a new network of supportive, collaborative peers from a wide range of national security agencies; listening to, and engaging with, a fascinating array of subject matter experts and senior leaders from a wide variety of the public and private sector; and participating in the group work, ably guided by the course mentors. I have and will continue to recommend this course to my Senior Executive peers and look forward to a continued association with the National Security College." November 2015 Participant)


Updated:  9 January 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/ Page Contact:  Web administrator, National Security College