The ACSS will see students studying in a variety of disciplines step into the roles of Australian politicians, ambassadors, advisors, strategists, journalists, public servants, and defence officials. In teams, students will coordinate an all of government response to an unfolding situation that threatens Australia’s national interests.

Students can expect to field calls from the media, handle online chatter, update the Australian public, deal with concerned stakeholders and undertake media interviews. Participants will need to utilise the full extent of Australia’s diplomatic, military and intelligence capabilities to realise our national interests in each of the scenarios. The actions of allies, adversaries and international organisations will either help or hinder their actions as the crises unfold.

The simulations will be enabled by Conducttr’s professional-grade crisis simulation software used by used by NATO, the UK Foreign Office and the UK Ministry of Defence. The software will emulate all facets of modern communication, including instant messaging, social media and live television, creating the urgency and uncertainty of a real-life crisis.

During the simulations, each team will be mentored by either a national security expert, recent graduate or a young professional working in national security. Our mentors will provide teams with strategic advice and insights that will strengthen participants’ knowledge of geopolitics, Australian defence policy and domestic national security law. Additionally, our mentors will endeavor to provide students with a deeper understanding of the opportunities available to build a career within the national security community.

The content of each simulation is being developed by a team of ANU students with some assistance from academics from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific and ANU College of Law. Moreover, our Patron, Admiral (Ret.) Chris Barrie, AC, has a wealth of experience in conducing demanding scenario exercises to compliment course work. He has very generously donated a significant amount of his time to assist our team in developing realistic, immersive and challenging simulations for the Summit.


The three crisis simulations will be focused on the challenges and threats Australian leaders will have to confront in the coming decades. By the end of the Summit, students will walk away with a clearer understanding about Australia’s national interests and its strategic policy objectives.

Given the sensitivity of the issues discussed in relation to Australia’s national security, we’ve decided not to reveal the exact content of the simulations at this time. We will release limited content about the exercises closer to the date and successful delegates will be fully briefed prior to their arrival in Canberra. The simulations will be multifaceted and complex. They will deal with a range of key strategic issues Australian leaders are currently grappling with and will continue to face in the years ahead.

Each simulation will encourage delegates to think about, discuss and debate:

  • What is in the national interest? Who gets to decide?
  • How does Australia create and sustain national power? How can Australia use national power to shape our position and role in the world?
  • What are Australia’s international relations options in an increasingly multi -polar world?
  • How do developments in international law affect Australian policy making?
  • How may economics and economic coercion affect Australia’s ability to defend its national interests?
  • How do Australia’s national security laws work? What are the potential future directions of these laws?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges posed by disruptive technologies to the mission and operations of the Australian Defence Force?
  • What are the emerging trends in Homeland Security (eg: cyber threats, unmanned and autonomous weapons, critical infrastructure, terrorism, climate change, foreign interefence) and what is their impact on Government’s and Defence’s contingency planning?