Comprising of renowned former leaders of the Australian Defence Force, the Swinburne Defence Advisory Board contributes to the work of Swinburne’s defence-related research and innovation by offering the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Chief of Defence Innovation critical advice, expertise and experience.

This includes matters relating to the defence sector, including trends, challenges, opportunities, and our key ‘Detect and Protect’ focus areas – space and aerospace, digital capability, manufacturing futures, social and community, and education and training. 

Our members

Kathryn Toohey retired from the Australian Army at the rank of Major General in late 2022. As a Senior Army Officer, Kathryn specialised in defence capability and was appointed as the first Head of Land Capability.

She was responsible for the modernisation and sustainment of army capability, including helicopters, tanks, communication systems and uniforms. 

In her last role as Head of Force Integration, she was responsible for providing test and evaluation advice to the Defence Investment Committee. In 2021, her team released the Defence Test and Evaluation Strategy. 

Kathryn holds an Executive Master in Business Administration, a Master of Management in Defence Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Information Technology and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (Honours).

Since retiring from the Army, Kathryn provides a range of mentoring and advisory services and is a member of several boards, including the Swinburne Defence Advisory Board.

Mel joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an Academy Cadet in January 1980, graduating as a pilot with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983. 

During Mel’s Air Force career, he flew Mirage, Classic Hornet and Super Hornet fighter aircraft in several of the Air Force’s fighter squadrons and achieved over 3,500 flying hours.

He completed several staff appointments, including in the capability development and force design areas and completed the Royal Air Force Advanced Command and Staff Course, graduating with a Master of Arts in Defence Studies from King's College in London in 1998.

In 2001, Mel took command of No 75 Squadron (75SQN) and led the Squadron in operations in the Middle East on Operations BASTILLE and FALCONER as part of Australia’s contribution to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003. 

Mel commanded at every level within the Air Force and notably, on promotion to the rank of Air Marshal, was appointed as Chief of Joint Operations in May 2018 and subsequently Chief of Air Force in July 2019.

He transitioned to the Air Force Reserve in July 2022 and retired to the South Coast of New South Wales. Since then, he has assisted the Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security as a member of the Expert Advisory Board to develop a National Cyber Security Strategy. 

Mel was appointed as a member of the Air Services Australia Board in August 2023 as a non-Executive Director. He also has roles on the Air Force Association Board, the Spitfire Association Advisory Council, the Swinburne Research Institute Advisory Board, and is a member of the Public Service Advisory Board providing strategic advice to government and industry clients.

Vice Admiral Mike Noonan retired from the Royal Australian Navy in 2022 after 38 years of dedicated service. 

As Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Michael was entrusted by government to be the principal naval advisor and to develop, train and sustain Australia’s naval forces.

His command of the Royal Australian Navy spanned a critical period where Australia’s strategic environment underwent rapid and unanticipated deterioration, described as the ‘most consequential strategic realignment since World War II’ with the Indo-Pacific at the centre. 

His tenure was characterised by a genuine respect and care for the people he led, and Michael worked tirelessly to expand the Navy, securing the government’s commitment to grow to 21,000 by 2035.

He oversaw the introduction of new naval capabilities and personally led a small team that transformed the idea of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia to an attainable capability outcome. 

Michael now supports industry and academia on a broad range of defence and maritime issues and is involved with several related boards.

He holds master degrees in Maritime Policy, Business Administration, Marketing Communication, and International Relations. He has also completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

In 2022, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Wollongong for his contribution to the maritime security of Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.

Gary is a former Head of Army Intelligence Corps and Director General of Scientific and Technical Research in the Australian Defence Force. 

He is a graduate of the Chinese National Defence University, taught China Studies at the US National Defense University, was Australia’s first Defence Attaché to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia’s National College of Governance. He served three years as Defence Head at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. 

Following a distinguished military career, Gary served seven years on the Council of Australia’s largest tertiary institution, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He worked as a Senior Adviser for Defence and National Security at professional services firm KPMG before joining the staff of Victoria’s then Defence Advocate Greg Combet.

He was appointed Enterprise Professor for Industry Engagement at the University of Melbourne, where he ran Australia’s only national PhD internship program, placing more than 400 PhD candidates from 32 universities into internships with over 120 government and industry partners.

As a member of Melbourne-based consultancy CIS, Gary was Interim CEO of a CRC proposal in “Care Economy”, helping to build a consortium across six universities and 80 industry partners, attracting over $100 million in cash and in-kind funding.

As manager of the Health Centre of Excellence at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), he led the areas of MedTech, Digital Health and Military Medicine, assisting Australian companies seeking offshore markets and overseas companies seeking Australian partners.

He has served on the Northern Territory Government’s Defence and National Security Advisory Group and as an adviser at market intelligence house DefenceConnect. 

He is currently Professor of Business Analytics at the University of Newcastle and Managing Director of space exploration company Lunaria One. 

Gary is a member of the Order of Australia and was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross while on operational service in the Middle East with US Special Operations Command. His foreign decorations include the US Legion of Merit and the Grand Meritorious Military Order of Indonesia. 

Partner with us

Would you like to know more about Swinburne’s world-class defence-related research or discuss a potential partnership? Email to speak to our team today.

Contact us