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Penny Maher

I’m really interested in the physical protection of our national security.

Japan specialist Penny Maher brims with enthusiasm when she talks about her move to the nation’s capital to take up the Advanced Master of National Security Policy. “I actually love Canberra,” she says. “I’m flourishing in the cold, I love the campus life, and I don’t want to go back to Sydney, I’m a converted Canberran!

Penny’s Bachelor of International Studies included in the semester at Tokyo Metropolitan University, for which she was awarded scholarships from both Macquire University and the Japanese Government. Here she mixed Japanese language, politics and culture with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. (“in Japan, it’s more popular than Japanese Jiu-Jitsu,” she assures us.)

She did a stint at the Japan Foundation Sydney, where she worked on the journal New Voices in Japanese Studies and conducted a data analysis of how the Japanese language is studied in Australia.

While considering postgraduate options one of her tutors, an alumna of the NSC Masters program, told her plainly; “Don’t study security in Sydney – go down to Canberra and get taught by the professionals – the people of Sydney reference the people in Canberra.

Penny is the Equity Officer for the National Security Students and Alumni Association, where she handles anything from help with job seeking to serious personal crises. In her final semester, she is busy shaping the central question of her research sub-thesis: What role does demographics play in the Japanese national security debate?

“It will be about the ageing population, the de-sexualisation of the youth, the falling birth rate, and the growth in the technologies that accommodate the loneliness of people,” she says, “It seems to me that the Japanese government needs to stop locking so much at external defence issues and look inwards to fix these problems.”

Penny has thrived as a member of the College family and feels that the degree has prepared her well for a career in Australia’s national security sector; “The lecturers are really approachable and knowledgeable. They are open to discussing any questions that you might raise. They’re very involved, they care about their students and want them to do well. They nurture us and I love it!

“My number one choice is the Australian Federal Police, I don’t mind sitting at a desk, but I’m an active person, so I’d like to be on the ground, working with the people, on operations.

“I’m really interested in the physical protection of our national security, so would love to work in any organization that actively works to protect the physical security of Australia.”