First Assistant Secretary, Defence Industry Policy Division
Dr Sheridan Kearnan
Dr Sheridan Kearnan commenced in the role as First Assistant Secretary Defence Industry Policy on 22 January 2018. Dr Kearnan’s responsibilities include the Defence Capability and Innovation Branch, which manages a consolidated innovation program and the associated portfolio of innovation investments; the Defence Export Controls Branch, responsible for managing Australia's export control of military and dual-use goods and technologies; and the Defence Industry Branch, which is accountable and responsible for Defence industry policy.
Prior to this, Dr Kearnan was Deputy Director of Australia's Defence Intelligence Organisation (2017); Minister Counsellor Defence Policy at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC (2014-16) and Assistant Secretary Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the International Policy Division of the Australian Department of Defence (2010-12). Before her appointment as Assistant Secretary, Dr Kearnan was Adviser to the former Minister of Defence, Senator John Faulkner. Between January 2008 and June 2009, she was Director Afghanistan in International Policy Division.
Dr Kearnan's previous appointments also include Director ASEAN in International Policy Division (2005-07), Director Strategic Assessments in Strategic Policy Division (2004-05), and Senior Executive Assistant for Deputy Secretary Strategic Policy (2003). Dr Kearnan has also worked on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific in a number of areas of Defence.
Before entering government service in 1999, Dr Kearnan completed a PhD in International Relations and a Masters of Social Science (Asian Government) at the University of Queensland. Dr Kearnan also attended the 2013 course of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.
First Assistant Secretary, International Policy Division
As First Assistant Secretary International Policy, Mr Hugh Jeffrey is responsible for managing Australia's international defence relationships.
Mr Jeffrey was appointed to the Department of Defence in August 2018 with a background in foreign and national security policy and intelligence. Prior to joining Defence, Mr Jeffrey held positions in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Office of National Assessments.
Mr Jeffrey has had four overseas postings, including as Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC, USA, and as a special secondee to NATO in Afghanistan, where he was Senior Adviser to the International Security Assistance Force Commander, General Stanley McChrystal, and the NATO Ambassador.
Mr Jeffrey is married and has two young children.
Acting First Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy Division
Dr Peter Sawczak
Dr Peter Sawczak was appointed Assistant Secretary for Strategic Policy at the Australian Department of Defence in October 2016.
Before joining Defence, Dr Sawczak was Head of Political Affairs at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague 2013–16, where he led the OPCW’s diplomatic and communications strategies, including in relation to the mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, and was closely engaged in strategic planning for the OPCW’s transition.
Prior to the OPCW, Dr Sawczak enjoyed a wide-ranging career at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which included postings to Washington, Brussels and Moscow. He also served as International Security Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Director of Counter-Proliferation at DFAT, where he was closely engaged in the establishment of the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Dr Sawczak holds a PhD in Slavic Studies from Monash University, where he is an Adjunct Research Fellow.