Royal United Services Institute of Australia

United Services Institute of the Australian Capital Territory

Leo Mahony Bursary

Applications Opening Soon!

What is the Leo Mahony Bursary?

The Leo Mahony Bursary is awarded annually to a masters (by research) or doctoral scholar studying in the field of national security and defence at an ACT-based university.

The Bursary commemorates the memory and service of founding National Secretary of RUSI-A and long-time USI member and Councillor, Mr Leo Mahony.

The Bursary comprises a one-off payment of $5000. Recipients are also offered Honorary Membership of the Institute for 12 months and the opportunity to publish an article about their work in a reputable journal. The Bursary and certificate of Honorary Membership are traditionally presented at a function held by the ACT in October which is well attended by USI ACT membership and guests. 

USI of the ACT gratefully acknowledges the support of the Australian Defence Colleges Association in funding the Bursary.

Applications Open now. Applications close on 31 July 21.

Who is eligible?

Australian citizens who:

  • are studying at an ACT university;
  • are enrolled in a Masters (by research) or PhD program that leads to a thesis;
  • have an approved research proposal for their program; and
  • have not previously won the Leo Mahony Bursary.

What are the selection criteria?

  • Relevance. The research must contribute to the body of national security or defence knowledge.
  • Innovation. The research should address a new or under-examined area. Historical papers are welcomed, but must demonstrate explicit relevance to contemporary or future national security or defence issues.
  • Academic merit. The research must have an appropriate standard of academic merit.

How to apply?

  • Submit a single page (400 words) application explaining how your research meets the selection criteria. 
  • Include:
    • evidence that you are an Australian citizen, enrolled and in good academic standing with your academic institution; and
    • a copy of your approved research proposal.    
  • Academic references are not required but will be considered
  • Send your application to this email

A flyer can be downloaded here: Leo Mahony Bursary 2021 USI ACT.pdf

    2019 Winner

    Sasha Vujoka, ANU.

    Research Area: The development of self-reliance within the ANZUS alliance in Australian strategic policy between 1959 and 1989.  Explores how Australia can understand and adapt to a strategic environment in which its traditional allies are in relative decline while other major powers are increasingly assertive with reference to how similar challenges were addressed in the latter decades of the Cold War.

    2018 Winner

    Natalie Sambhi, ANU.

    Research Area: Military culture and the legacies of East Timor for the Indonesian military. Seeks to understand the legacies of the conflict and occupation of East Timor for the Indonesian military (TNI) from 1975 to 1999.

    (Bio: ANU; Photo: USI)

    2017 Winner

    Deborah Jeppesen, ANU.

    Research area: Are we influential? Examining the attributes which make military advisors effective in Train Advise Assist roles. Seeks to understand the attributes required in Train Advise Asist roles, testing the hypothesis that emotional intelligence is the key to success.

    (Bio: Jeppesen; Photo: USI) 

    2016 Winners

    Cameron Hawker, UNSW Canberra. 

    Research area: Australian Prime Ministers and the Australian - American Alliance 1951 - 2001: Crisis Points and Political Decision Making.  Tests the proposition that Prime Minsters are the key figure in alliance policy in a series of case studies of crises ranging from Holt and LBJ managing the Vietnam War to Howard and Bush in the aftermath of 9/11. Summary slides can be found here.

    (Photo: USI)

    Leon Young, UNSW Canberra.

    Research area: Developing Computational Strategic Thinking Models. Seeks to determine whether strategic thinkers can be made, rather than just found, in an effort to understand where the ADF might put more emphasis in its professional military education programs. Summary slides can be found here.

    (Photo: USI)


    Mr Leo Mahony

    Mr Leo Mahony was foundation National Secretary of the Royal United Services Institute of Australia and an outstanding Defence civil servant.

    Mahony was a career member of the Commonwealth public service, serving originally in the Department of Army and later the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), before moving to the Department of Defence in the 1970s. During his long career, Mahony worked on many of the key defence, strategy and security matters of the time, including serving as secretary to a number of high-level Defence committees—including the Chiefs of Staff Committee—and working in the Defence headquarters environment for around 20 years.

    As Secretary of the United Services Institute of the Australian Capital Territory, together with the then President, Major General Ron Hughes, Mahony proposed to the various state Royal United Service Institutes that a national body be set up. This was agreed in 1974, and Mahony played an instrumental role in establishing, then managing, the new national body.

    Mahony was National Secretary of RUSI for 26 years from 1979 to 2005, as well as Secretary of USI of the ACT for 28 years from 1976 to 2004.

    Contact details:
    USI of the ACT is located in Canberra. For further information please contact:

    Secretary USI of the ACT Inc.
    CP3-1-157 Campbell Park Office


    Mail address: 
    Australia Post Mail to:
    CP3-1-157 PO Box 7912 CANBERRA BC ACT 2610

    Membership and Treasurer enquiries:

    Tel: 0410 496 721


    ABN: 69 739 962 119

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