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Our History


Holding a unique place in advancing Australia’s security thinking for over a decade.

Since our inception in 2005, firstly as the Kokoda Foundation and now as the Institute For Regional Security, we’ve been at the forefront of the intellectual effort needed to grapple with Australia’s future security challenges.

Our work has promoted and provided a basis for debate on a range of issues of strategic importance for Australia and the region, including Australia’s place in space, reform and transformation of the nation’s intelligence and decision-making architecture, how to respond to the growing threat of cyber security challenges, and the implications of international geopolitics for the economic security and social stability of Australia and our region. 

A need arises

Between 2002 and 2004, key leaders and senior professionals from across Australia’s national security community began to identify two significant problems that faced Australia’s capacity to meet future security challenges:
First, there was a shortage of innovative research into Australia’s most serious future security challenges and strategic blind-spots, both within government and beyond.

Second, for a range of reasons the Australian national security community had failed to adequately develop a new generation of advanced national security policy analysts during the 1990s. 

As failure to act was not an option, a number of senior government and industry leaders stepped up to the plate and launched the Kokoda Foundation in early 2005 – an effort led by Professor Ross Babbage AM and inaugural Board members  AVM Peter Nicholson AO (Retd),  Dr Gary Waters, Dr David Connery, RADM (Rtd) Simon Harrington AM and Mr Brice Pacey.

Strong support

The power of the idea for a think-tank that focused on long-term, complex, strategic challenges quickly grabbed the attention of both government and industry leaders alike. 

The Foundation won the support of many government ministers, officials senior Defence officers and leaders, as well as leaders of industry and academia. The Australian Department of Defence, a founding sponsor of the Foundation, still supports the Institute to this day.

New Challenges – New Approach - New Name

True security extends beyond military and defence matters – as central as they are to a secure society. Matters of economic stability, environmental and resource security, and national wellbeing all contribute to a nation’s – and ultimately a region’s – sense of security. Holistic security thinking has been a central tenet of our research, and at the start of 2015 we changed our name from the Kokoda Foundation to the Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) to reflect this. 

Our focus in on matters of strategic security significance in the Indo-Pacific region and our growing collaborations with international partners, particularly in Japan, Indonesia and India, underpin this trend of expanding our efforts in regional engagement and understanding.

Major achievements

The Institute’s legacy truly lies in the informed action it’s spurred. 

  • The introduction of the Women in National Security (WiNS) program in 2014 has inspired a generation of women to leadership positions within the national security sector.
  • The introduction of the Future Strategic Leaders scheme has given opportunity and voice to Australia's next generation of national security leaders.
  • The launch of Australia’s first ever space policy in 2013 was the direct result of pioneering work undertaken between 2008 and 2010 by the Institute delving into understanding Australia’s true space interests.
  • In a similar vein, work undertaken behind the scenes by the Institute helped shape the Australian Government’s 2009 Cyber Security Strategy.
  • The 2010 launch of the National Security College at the ANU was a direct result of a 2007 Kokoda Paper examining practical recommendations to enhance the national security community by 2020.
  • Through the launch of Security Challenges, we’ve helped spawn a renewed independent, academic community focused around Australia’s national security affairs.

It’s a story we invite you to be a part of.


Promoting Regional Security & Prosperity

© Institute for Regional Security Ltd