Our origins & goals

About RNSA

The Research Network for a Secure Australia (RNSA) is a multi-disciplinary collaboration established to strengthen Australia’s research capacity to enhance the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure from natural, human-caused, or accidental disasters, and terrorist acts.

The RNSA has received ARC funding to achieve its goals of establishing a research network primarily under the National Research Priority 4 – Safeguarding Australia: Priority Goal 1 – Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP); and including some elements from other national priority areas such as frontier technologies, advanced materials, smart information use, transformational defence technologies, and protecting Australia from terrorism and crime.

The RNSA seeks to bring together the majority of Australia’s leading researchers, government and industry leaders involved in CIP. The RNSA will facilitate a knowledge-sharing network for research organisations, government and the private sector to develop research tools and methods to mitigate emerging safety and security issues relating to critical infrastructure. The network will integrate complementary, yet diverse research areas including physical and information infrastructure security, and surveillance and intelligent systems.

The Australian government has identified the need to secure critical infrastructure against potential natural or human-caused disasters including terrorism as a national priority. The RNSA is designed to meet this important government requirement through providing research coordination in the areas of critical infrastructure protection (CIP).

The network receives strong support from key government organisations responsible for critical infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism such as the Critical Infrastructure Advisory Council (CIAC), the Attorney-General’s Department, Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) for Critical Infrastructure Protection, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – National Security Division (SET Unit) and Emergency Management Australia (EMA).


  • Open exchange of information and sharing of resources across disciplinary, organisational, institutional and geographical boundaries by organising workshops, focus groups and an annual conference.

  • Development and implementation of cohesive and integrated research plans among researchers by bringing them together and encouraging communication opportunities for cross-disciplinary research collaboration.

  • Nurturing the careers of young investigators and research students through incentives, such as attending an annual summer retreat, as well as opportunities to participate in international and inter-institutional exchange programs.

  • Links with actual and potential end-users, and the broader community through an advisory board composed of recognised key stakeholders in Australian CIP.

Networking Strategies

The purpose of forming the RNSA is to facilitate collaborative research on policy, business decisions, analysis techniques, and treatment options in order to secure Australia’s critical infrastructure. The network will establish integrated research programs enabling collaborative research relationships. The network will launch a program of activities (workshops, focus groups, summer retreat, and an annual conference) throughout each year to foster research collaboration and nurture young investigators.

The RNSA will have a physical presence in a number of Australian and international organisations undertaking research. Synergies between these can be found through the transfer of expertise, and/ or sharing of facilities. The most exciting possibilities come from cross-disciplinary research of new ideas, novel approaches to old problems, or completely unforeseen innovations. This proposal seeks to capture the strengths of relevant Australian and international research on securing critical infrastructure. The RNSA will encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional research by organising a program of activities. The proposed network draws on diverse but complementary research expertise and the resources of three broad research areas identified as essential for a comprehensive and integrated approach to securing Australian critical infrastructure: Physical Infrastructure Security; Information Infrastructure Security; and Surveillance and Intelligent Systems.

The RNSA will develop a diffuse and flexible approach to research collaboration enabling ‘risky’ and innovative research. It is intended that the network will expand and evolve as new research directions are developed and fostered to meet the needs of key stakeholders (including the owners and operators of Australian critical infrastructure and policing, security and insurance organisations), and as new national research priorities arise. Researchers will be encouraged to collaborate across a range of disciplines thereby laying incentives for further research.


The Australian government has identified the need to secure critical infrastructure against potential natural or human-caused disasters including terrorism as a national priority. Incidents such as the Longford and Moomba gas explosions and the water contamination in Sydney clearly show the impacts of critical infrastructure failure. The reasons for infrastructure failure are varied and complex, thus CIP research must be inherently multidisciplinary. Collaborative research by the RNSA can develop methods and tools that can be applied to examine protection needs of widely different infrastructure. These same methods and tools can also be applied in developing counter-terrorist options.

International Standing

The RNSA has been successful in bringing together highly respected research leaders in diverse areas related to CIP. These researchers have strong international standing and are involved in local and international committees where they have access to young and developing researchers as well as leaders like themselves. The RNSA sees each researcher as a member of an existing network. Together they provide an invaluable opportunity for the RNSA to reach out into existing research communities as a means of furthering its agenda.

The RNSA plans to use these links to garner interest and future participation of such research communities in its programs. It is envisioned that RNSA’s researchers will act as its representatives and disseminate ideas to their colleagues resulting in a highly effective means of promotion of the RNSA’s cause both on a local and international level. Their involvement in committees will allow the RNSA to integrate its agenda into that of existing research communities in Australia and overseas towards CIP. The RNSA is also building strong links with local, state and federal government organisations to raise the profile of the network nationally.

The RNSA will create a knowledge-sharing network for government, universities and the private sector producing innovative solutions to secure Australia’s critical infrastructure from threats that have the potential to cause national security, economic, and/ or social impacts. Facilitating a coordinated approach to CIP will align the efforts of researchers and key stakeholders (i.e. government organisations and the private sector) in the broad areas of science, engineering and technology.

The RNSA has strong links with a number of leading research agencies, university research groups, CRCs, ARC centres of excellence, government organisations and industry. Together these will tailor a CIP research agenda to meet Australia’s needs. In particular, the RNSA will be a valuable asset to the Federal Government’s Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) structure by providing to both its Critical Infrastructure Advisory Council (CIAC) and its associated EAGs (Experts Advisory Groups) appropriate R&D insights into fundamental and applied CIP issues. The RNSA has already established and will continue to establish notable contacts and collaboration with equivalent or similar activities overseas, e.g. in Europe, Asia, USA, Canada, and NZ.

About the Directory

The National Security Researchers Directory, sponsored by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, is a consolidated listing of Australian research experts, PhD students, and sources of expertise in key areas of national security.

It will enable policy makers, practitioners and researchers in government and industry to rapidly identify leading edge researchers of relevance.

The Directory was launched on 23 September 2010 by the Deputy National Security Adviser.