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Exhibition Opening - Spy: Espionage in Australia

  • Whitlam Institute The Whitlam Institute, Building EZ, Western Sydney University Rydalmere Australia (map)

Join us as we open Spy: Espionage in Australia.

This exhibition, on tour from the National Archives of Australia, reveals the personal experiences of secret agents and the curious history of espionage and counter-espionage in Australia, from Federation through to the present day.

You're invited to join the opening event, to hear from some remarkable eminent speakers:

  • Stephen FitzGerald AO, Whitlam Institute Distinguished Fellow, former diplomat and Prime Ministerial Advisor to Gough Whitlam

  • Sara Dowse, acclaimed author and artist, inaugural head of the first women's unit in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Whitlam and Fraser, and biographer for Amirah Inglis, one of the individuals profiled in the exhibition

  • David Fricker, Director General of the National Archives of Australia, former CIO and Deputy Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)

This event is now SOLD OUT, however you can join the waitlist should tickets become available:

About the speakers:


Dr Stephen FitzGerald AO is a Whitlam Institute Distinguished Fellow. Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Stephen is one of Australia’s foremost China specialists. He began his professional career as a diplomat, studied Chinese and was China adviser to Gough Whitlam. He established the first private consultancy for Australians dealing with China, which he continues to run. Dr FitzGerald founded and until 2005 chaired the UNSW’s Asia-Australia Institute, which is dedicated to building Australia’s role in Asia. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and a Honorary Fellow at the China Studies Centre at Sydney University. He has also been awarded two Honorary Doctorates from Macquarie University and the University of Tasmania.

Dr FitzGerald has consulted to the Australian government, various state and territory governments, the governments of Britain, Denmark and others, and to universities around Australia, on subjects including the teaching of Asian languages, university programs on Asia studies and governance-related aid in China and Southeast Asia. His current research is on changes in Australia’s policies and attitudes towards Asia from the 1960s to the present. Stephen is currently a Board Member of China Matters, which seeks to facilitate constructive dialogue about Australia’s relations with China.


Sara Dowse is a prize-winning author, reviewer, artist and former senior public servant. A feminist and activist, she became the inaugural head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's Women's Affairs Section which under her leadership became the Office of Women's Affairs, later the Office of the Status of Women. Sara wrote the Obituary for Amirah Inglis, who is profiled in the exhibition.

Sara Dowse studied Arts at Sydney University and worked in Canberra as a journalist at the Australian Information Service, and a tutor at the Canberra College of Advanced Education, later the University of Canberra. Recommended for a role with the government by Elizabeth Reid, Gough Whitlam's prime-ministerial adviser on women, Dowse soon ascended to her leading role in developing Australia’s first national women's policy. After the Dismissal, she stayed in the Prime Minister's Department until the end of 1977 when she resigned in response to the office being demoted to a newly created Department of Home Affairs, under a junior minister whose portfolio included ‘museums, archives, shipwrecks and the ACT’. After her resignation she worked as a teacher at ANU, a reviewer for newspapers and journals, and authored her first five novels, beginning with West Block, set in the Prime Minister's Department two years after the Dismissal. At the same time she drafted the women's policy for the incoming Hawke Government elected in 1983. Her sixth novel, As the Lonely Fly, set in British Mandate Palestine, was published in 2017.

David Fricker (002) - Copy.jpg

David Fricker joined the National Archives of Australia as Director-General on 1 January 2012. As Director-General, David’s strategic focus has been on the whole-of-government transition to ‘digital continuity’ in records and information management; expansion of preservation capability for paper, audiovisual and digital records; acceleration of the declassification of sensitive archival documents; and the exploitation of emerging technology to enhance the public’s access to archival resources.

David has been an active member of International Council on Archives (ICA) since 2012, hosting the ICA Congress in Brisbane. In 2013 he was elected President, Forum of National Archivists (FAN), and was appointed President of the ICA in October 2014. In 2015 he was appointed by the Director-General UNESCO to the position of Vice-President of the UNESCO Memory of the World International Advisory Committee.
He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Professional Member of the Australian Society of Archivists. In 2015 he was made Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by the Republic of France.