Royal United Services Institute of Australia

United Services Institute of the Australian Capital Territory

Leo Mahony Bursary

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 the Australian Defence Force Journal. The Bursary and certificate of Honorary Membership are traditionally presented at the Members' Dinner, which is held in September each year.

USI of the ACT gratefully acknowledges the support of our partner, Rolls Royce, and the Australian Defence Colleges Association.

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:
    •  Email:
    • Mail:      PO Box 7912, CANBERRA BC ACT 2610.

Key dates

  • 31 July 2018.  Applications close.
  • 31 August 2018.  Winner announced.
  • 26 September 2018.  Bursary presented at USI of the ACT Annual Members' Dinner.

The winner will be invited to provide a presentation to USI of the ACT members in 2019.

Any questions?

  • Contact our office:
    • Email:
    • Telephone: 02 6266 3446

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 Service 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:

LTCOL Richard Maurice
Secretary USI of the ACT Inc.
CP3-1-155 Campbell Park Office

(membership and all other)

Mail address: 
Australia Post Mail to:
CP3-1-155 PO Box 7912 CANBERRA BC ACT 2610

0410 496 721 Treasurer

for Membership Inquiries
0477 358 580 Secretary

Special Thanks: 
The RUSIDSS-A gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of Defence for its continuing assistance.

Queries on website and membership: 
Our major sponsor, Rolls-Royce Australia, underwrites the production of this website.

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