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  • Future Strategic Leaders' Program and USI of the ACT: Is Australia a Fragile State?

Future Strategic Leaders' Program and USI of the ACT: Is Australia a Fragile State?

  • 21 Aug 2013
  • 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
  • R1 Ground Floor Theatrette, Russell Offices ACT


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The Kokoda Future Strategic Leaders' Program and USI of the ACT

Is Australia a Fragile State?:
Resilience Thinking, Adaptation and National Vulnerability

Professor Jenny Stewart
School of Business, UNSW@ADFA

Rita Parker
Visiting Fellow, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

We tend to think of Australia as a robust state, and at least some others as fragile. But the Australian state may be more vulnerable than we imagine. Recent work by the Australian Academy of Science (in which Stewart and Parker took part) suggests the power of systems thinking in teasing out the issues involved.

Envisaging Australia as a complex adaptive system, Jenny and Rita argue that resilience means the capacity to adapt to change without compromising fundamental values. So far, Australia has been resilient in this sense (with a close call in World War 2). However, this continued resilience cannot be taken for granted. Through their continuing faith in free trade and responsive markets, Australian planners may be emphasising economic adaptation at the expense of strategic awareness. This preference, or ‘framing’, carries with it risks from non-traditional sources. Three forms of security may be at issue: food, energy and water. In exploring each of these, Jenny and Rita suggest that adaptation requires both a top down as well as a bottom up perspective.

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