Address at the launch of the UNSW Defence Research Institute in Canberra

It gives me tremendous pleasure be here to launch the UNSW Defence Research Institute.

This is a big day for UNSW Canberra, in a number of ways. Later, this evening we will gather at Parliament House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our relationship with the Australian Defence Forces.

Such milestones give us pause to reflect on not only where we have come from, but where we are heading. The UNSW Defence Research Institute is a perfect example of where our future lies.

It speaks of UNSW’s enduring and evolving relationship with the ADF and our ongoing contribution to Australia’s security. It is that relationship – that shared history – which puts us in a unique position to carry out valuable research.

We have worked with our defence forces over the last 50 years and responded to their changing needs. When our first students enrolled in 1968, Australia was in the middle of its involvement in the Vietnam War – a time when field telephones and paper maps were still being used.

Today’s servicemen and women operate in a very different era. And they rely on their governments to equip them – not just physically but intellectually – to meet the demands of a constantly changing, high-tech defence environment.

The UNSW Defence Research Institute will add a critical dimension to our knowledge base. Its research will be relevant and wide-ranging and cover areas as diverse as public sector management and conflict studies; cyber security; space; systems engineering; and logistics.

As with so much of the work we are doing at UNSW, collaboration is key to the success of this venture. We will work across academia, government and industry, as well as with global policy makers. Our intention being to create a hub of defence-related knowledge.

We want to galvanise research clusters across all UNSW campuses working on research relating to defence and security. And expand our network of contacts across the defence industry in Australia, and importantly overseas. It just makes good sense to centralise experience and knowledge from across the country and across the world, if we are to achieve the best outcomes for the communities we serve.

A Defence Research Institute of this scope and ambition sits well with the ambitions of UNSW Canberra, as a whole. We are also working with the ACT Government to develop an important proposal for a new campus in Reid – and we hope to be able to share an update on that by the end of the month.

This would complement our plans for the current Canberra campus and the Defence Research Institute. It would also give a much-needed increase in capacity and allow us to better respond to the changing demands of society. And that is a central pillar of our institution’s mission.

At UNSW, we share a passion about the role of universities as servants of our community – regionally, nationally and globally. This Defence Research Institute will help us fulfil that role – especially sitting here in Canberra, where it has the chance to inform and influence the nation’s top defence and intelligence agencies.

I congratulate all who have brought this to fruition. Particularly the Rector of UNSW Canberra, Michael Frater. And now. It is my great pleasure to officially launch, The UNSW Defence Research Institute.

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