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The Institute for Regional Security

Board of Directors

The Institute's activities rely heavily on the efforts of several key groups, led by our pro bono Board of Directors.

Andrew Balmaks    


Andrew is a founder and the Chairman of the Noetic Group which operates both in Australia and overseas. His primary responsibility is as the Chief Executive Officer of Noetic Solutions, overseeing its growth and leading projects of strategic significance. He retired from the Australian Army, after 22 years’ service, and has continued to work extensively on defence and security matters consulting to a range of Government departments both in Australia and overseas. Andrew typically works with and advises senior executives in relation to their key organisational challenges and has built a strong reputation for dealing with difficult and sensitive issues, demonstrating an ability to ‘unpack’ these issues and develop ‘de-sensitised’ and implementable options to address them. He is a twice former visiting fellow with the University of New South Wales and sits on a number of boards / advisory bodies including the University of Canberra School of Government Course Advisory Group.  


Simon Cullen AM, CSC    

Deputy Chair

Rear Admiral Simon Cullen retired from the Royal Australian Navy in late 2014, following a 38-year career.His career highlights included command at sea and ashore, extensive operational service and appointments to key senior military positions in the United States.  Rear Admiral Cullen is now pursuing a portfolio of new challenges, ranging from consulting to working in the not-for-profit and charity sectors. He resides in Canberra. 

Peter Nicholson AO    

Executive Director and Research Committee Member

Former senior Air Force officer who has held several operational commands and strategic level joint staff appointments. He has commanded the RAAF combat force, served as the Head of Strategic Policy and Plans, and as the Chief Knowledge Officer of the Department of Defence.


Brett Biddington AM    

Treasurer and Research Committee Chair

Brett Biddington consults to governments and the private sector on space matters and has more general interests in community resilience, notably in the electronic and communications and cyberspace domains. He maintains strong linkages to all elements of the Australian space community including the national security, space science, astronomy and education sectors. Previously he was a member of the Cisco Systems Space Team, in the vanguard of activities which are transforming global space communications and before that was an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force specialising in intelligence, security and capability development.



Jennifer Jackett    


Jennifer works for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as a Senior Adviser on national security issues. Her areas of focus have included cyber and technology, counter-terrorism, and crisis arrangements. Jennifer has also held roles in the Cabinet Secretary’s Office managing Cabinet and committee processes. Prior to joining PM&C, Jennifer worked for the Department of Defence on international defence policy as well as aerospace capability projects. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Liberal Studies (International) with First Class Honours in Human Geography from Sydney University and a Master of National Security Policy from the Australian National University. Jennifer speaks Spanish and is studying Arabic.


Jim Bancroft    

Jim Bancroft retired from the Australian Army in 2004, following a 28-year career. His military career highlights included command of a United Nations Brigade in East Timor, Battalion command and Commandant of the Australian Army Command and Staff College at Queenscliff. Commercial experience has included Director, Northrop Grumman Australia; Government Account Manager for Hewlett Packard and Business Development Manager, Saab Systems Australia. He has recently established his own Company supporting the growth of high Technology Australian SME’s.




Jasmin Craufurd-Hill    

Jasmin Craufurd-Hill is a Management lecturer and consultant who has held both senior and project management roles within the government, not-for-profit and emergency services sectors. She currently serves as an Executive Board Member of Women in Nuclear (WiN) Global and previously served as the I&C Team Leader for the OPAL Reactor’s Commissioning Operations Group at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). She is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a member of both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Project Management.


Lavina Lee    

Dr Lavina Lee is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the author of the book US Hegemony and International Legitimacy: Norms Power and Followership in the Wars on Iraq (Routledge, 2010), and has published numerous articles, book chapters and commentary on Indian foreign and security policy, nuclear proliferation, US foreign policy, and security relations in the Indo-Pacific. Her current research focuses on maritime security and strategy in the Indo-Pacific, and nuclear proliferation in East Asia. She also periodically publishes opinion pieces in The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, the Hindustan Times, and the New Straits Times, as well as with specialist policy outlets such as The Lowy Interpreter and ASPI Strategist. Dr Lee has commerce and law degrees from the University of NSW, an MA with Distinction in International Peace and Security from King’s College, University of London, and a PhD in International Relations from Sydney University. Prior to joining Macquarie University in 2007, Dr Lee was a political risk consultant with Control Risks Group. 


Drew McKinnie    

Drew McKinnie served for over 34 years in the RAN, as an Engineer Officer, completing full time service as Director General Major Surface Ships. He is now serving as a Reserve Commodore on the Defence Independent Seaworthiness Management Review Panel. He is an expert negotiation consultant, strategist and trainer, with expertise in strategic and enterprise risk management. He is Chairman of Operations for the Gliding Federation of Australia. Drew has a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) and Master of Arts in Strategic Studies.

Steven Pantier    

Steven Pantier has been part of Accenture’s Defence practice for the last 17 years and has more than 30 years’ experience in managing and delivering business transformation projects in the Defence, Automotive, and Construction industries. Steven has worked either directly or indirectly with transforming and advising Defence agencies within the US, Australia, Japan, Singapore, India, The Netherlands, Finland and the UK.

Rebekka Wheate    

Rebekka Rebekka Wheate has over 15 years experience in the national security community and is currently a Senior Advisor at the Department of The Prime Minister and Cabinet.  This follows previous policy and operational roles in the Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.



Christine Zeitz


                                                                                                                  Christine Zeitz is Chief Executive of Leidos Australia and has 30 years’ experience in industry as a defence, security and ICT expert. She is responsible for the performance and delivery of programs, as well as strategic growth of Leidos Australia and Asia Pacific, and has a record of achieving excellent business outcomes in challenging circumstances across geographic regions. Christine holds a Bachelor of Economics (Accounting) from Flinders University, completed post-graduate courses in business administration, management and marketing with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Harvard Business School and the University of South Australia. She is a Board Member of SBS, the South Australian Economic Advisory Board, the Institute for Regional Security and Centre for Defence Industry Capability.


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