Confronting and countering the threats from Espionage, Foreign Interference and Terrorism

8th – 9th May 2019, QT Canberra


Across 8 and 9 May 2019, Safeguarding Australia will bring government and industry together to counter the threats facing all Australians. Safeguarding Australia will unite international and Australian experts to explore the issues in this space; considering the past, present and future of security response.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has warned that espionage and political interference by foreign powers is at unprecedented levels in Australia and poses a major risk to security.

Duncan Lewis, the Director-General of ASIO, told a Senate estimates hearing that he was concerned about escalating activities.

“Hostile intelligence poses a real and potential existential threat to Australian security and sovereignty,” Mr Lewis said. “The harm from this threat may not manifest for many years, even decades, after the activities occur. We are concerned about threats from wherever they emanate.”

 According to the Lowy Institute, foreign interference has not seeped into the Australian consciousness in the way terrorism has. In this year’s Lowy Institute poll, terrorism was cited as the No.1 “critical threat” facing Australians. Foreign interference ranked eighth – behind the US presidency of Donald Trump.

While the public has not recognised this growing threat, the Australian Parliament has. In June 2018, the Senate passed laws that amount to the most significant overhaul of Australia’s security and foreign interference laws in decades – creating new espionage offences, introducing tougher penalties on spies and establishing a register of foreign political agents.

The theme for Safeguarding Australia Summit 2019 on Confronting and Countering the Threats from Espionage, Foreign Interference and Terrorism are attracting a range of international and local key senior security professionals presenting at the Summit.

The  Program Committee is pleased to announce participation from one of our keynote speakers, Elizabeth Bodine-Baron of RAND Corporation in the U.S. co-author of Countering Russian Social Media Influence. Elizabeth is an engineer specializing in complex networks and systems at the RAND Corporation.  She has used network analysis of social media data to study CVE messaging, Russian propaganda, ISIS support and opposition networks, CENTCOM information operations, and US Army recruiting efforts. Bodine-Baron received a B.S. in electrical engineering and a B.A. in liberal arts (Plan II Honors) from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from California Institute of Technology in 2012.

Pierre Pasinetti, the Vice President of Security for Thales, will be visiting from France to address the threat and response to espionage to international defence and security industry.  Pierre has extensive global experience in both private and government sector and leads internationally on protective security and crisis management.

Academic and policy input to the key topic is coming from Professor Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College and supported by Associate Professor Matthew Sussex will be addressing the subject of Democratic Resilience and Foreign Influence: lessons for and from Australia.

The Summit committee also welcomes Ryan Pardee of the FBI and Nick Pietrowicz of the U.S State Department who will be contributing in the area respectively on the cyber aspects of Counter Intelligence (CI) in the region and measures the US Government uses to protect our staff and information from CI concerns.

Safeguarding Australia 2019 will focus on this and more over the one and a half days of plenary sessions, followed by two highly focussed immersive workshops offered as an elective on afternoon of Day 2 following conclusion of the main conference at lunch - this is a programmed activity where all participants are actively engaged in analysing the issues and contributing to a good practice model for addressing it,  It would require some background and pre-reading for participants to get the best from the below immersive program

  • Cybersecurity – defeating the foreign and domestic adversaries

This in depth workshop will examine the nature of the threats, targets and operations of foreign adversaries.  It will be limited to citizens of Australian allied countries which have security agreements with Australia.  The workshop will develop models for detecting, preventing and responding to cyber-attacks and look in detail at the NIST Cyber Security Framework, ISM Essential 8 and UK Cyber Essentials. It will be facilitated by leading government, academic and private sector cyber security specialists.

  • Insider Threat – people and the culture of security.

The in depth workshop will consider the best models for an insider threat program and work through what may be the best approach for your agency and business. It will also examine the current Australian Standard 4811 Employment Screening which is to be reviewed for reissue to address “whole of work life assessment”.  The Australian Standards Technical Committee for Security and Resilience will be leading this work and members will be in attendance. An outcome of the workshop will be a model plan transferable to your work place.  

  • Full program under development…..updates to follow.


Program overview

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.


Attendee Profile

Safeguarding Australia is the only high-level conference run by and for leading thinkers, policymakers and practitioners in the national security domain, working across whole-of-government at state and federal levels, including law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as engaging with corporate and private security practitioners and providers.

Past attendees and current bookings include:

  • Senior representatives from security, intelligence, military and law enforcement

  • Government Agency Security Advisers

  • Leaders and practitioners in cyber security

  • Corporate and business executives responsible for security and risk management

  • Critical infrastructure owners and operators

  • Engineers, scientists, technologists, researchers and academics