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Defence Lecture Series

Synergy Group is pleased to present Dr Matthew Sussex, Associate Professor (Adjunct) at the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University; Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU; and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for European Studies, ANU, Dr Helen Durham AO, CEO of RedR Australia and Mike Hughes AIM, Associate Director Intelligence Services at Protegas.
1 November 2023
Synergy Group with Guest Speakers Dr Matthew Sussex, Dr Helen Durham AO, and Mike Hughes AIM

The need for a sovereign Australian net assessment capability is an important part of the 2023 Defence Strategic Review (DSR). Properly resourced, net assessment can be a powerful tool in helping to shape decisions on policy and strategy. Designed to compare the relative military capabilities and strategic outlook of competing nations, net assessment can assist R&D and weapons acquisition choices, and inform long‑range strategic and joint force decision-making.

Join the conversation - To register your interest to attend Synergy's Defence Lecture Series on 1 November, please contact


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Guest Speaker

Dr Matthew Sussex

Dr Matthew Sussex is Associate Professor (Adjunct) at the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University; Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU; and Visiting
Fellow at the Centre for European Studies, ANU. 

His research specialisations revolve around national security and strategic studies with a particular focus on Russia and Eurasia, Australian national security policy, great power politics, and information warfare. His books include The Palgrave Handbook of National Security (Palgrave,
2021); The Belt and Road Initiative and the Future of Regional Order (Lexington, 2020); Violence and the State (Manchester University Press, 2017); Power, Politics and Confrontation in Eurasia (Palgrave, 2015); Russia, Eurasia and the New Geopolitics of Energy (Palgrave, 2015); and Conflict in the Former USSR (Cambridge University Press, 2012). 

Matthew has previously been Senior Fellow at the Australian Defence College; Associate Professor and Academic Director at the National Security College, Australian National University; and Head of Politics and International Relations at the University of Tasmania. He has been awarded research grants from the Australian Research Council, the Fulbright Commission, the ISA, Australian government agencies, and others. Matthew been a non-resident Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy; he has served on the National Executive of the Australian Institute of International Affairs; and has been the Associate Editor of the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He is regularly invited to speak brief government, academic specialists and think tanks on his areas of expertise. He also provides frequent analyses for local, national and international media, including BBC, CNN, Bloomberg and others.

Guest Speaker

Dr Helen Durham AO

As the CEO of RedR Australia, Dr Helen Durham applies her 30 years’ experience in the humanitarian sector and high-level expertise in international humanitarian law, policy and diplomacy in the direction and governance of the team.

Helen has significant field experience in Asia and the Pacific, as well as engagement in the Middle East, Africa and diplomatic negotiations in NY, Brussels and Geneva. She is widely published, in particular in the area of women and armed conflict. In 2017 she was awarded the prestigious Officer of the Order of Australia. Helen was the first woman and first Australian to be the Director of International Law and Policy for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, a role that saw her actively involved in field missions as well as diplomatic negotiations in New York, Brussels and London.

Helen has regularly addressed the Security Council on topics such as cyber warfare, counterterrorism and women and armed conflict, and has been the Director of International Law and Strategy at Australian Red Cross, Head of Office Australia ICRC, Legal Adviser to ICRC Pacific delegation and Director of Research at the Asia Pacific Centre of Military Law at Melbourne Law School. With a Law/Arts degree, a PhD in international law (Melbourne and New York University), as well as being admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor, she is well regarded and highly sought for her advice and opinion on pressing humanitarian topics. 

Guest Speaker

Mike Hughes AIM

Mike joined Protegas in July 2023 after 25 years in the national intelligence community (NIC). As Associate Director Intelligence Services, Mike leads Protegas’ multi-source fusion capability and
supports clients intelligence planning, collection, analysis and production needs. 

Awarded the Australian Intelligence Medal (AIM) in the 2022 Australia Day Honours List, Mike was recognised for his distinguished service to the NIC and commended for his collaborative style, foresight and initiative in a series of analytical, liaison and senior executive roles in which he enabled the NIC to identify and respond effectively to emerging regional and global security threats. 

Promoted to the Senior Executive Service in 2011, Mike was the Assistant Secretary South East Asia and Pacific in the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) before becoming the Assistant Director-General for Oceania in the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in May 2015. Mike was promoted to Head of Pacific Intelligence Partnerships in the Office of National Intelligence in January 2019, and became the inaugural Indo-Pacific Intelligence Mission Manager in July 2021.

As an analyst, Mike worked predominantly on North East Asia issues in DIO and ONA. He served briefly as the DIO Liaison Officer in London, and as the Senior DIO Liaison Officer to the United States from 2009 to 2011. 

Mike joined DIO after completing the Defence Graduate Program in 1998, during which he served for a short period with the Defence Signals Directorate (now ASD). He previously worked as a policy officer in the Western Australian State government and served in the Australian Army Reserve in the Infantry and Intelligence Corps. Mike spent his early childhood in New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore before settling down in Perth, Western Australia. He graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1995 with a first-class honours degree in Political Science,  having written a thesis on the political, economic and social complications of China’s economic miracle. 

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