Community Engagement Initiative of the Year Award

Girls in Cyber Security Advancing (GiCSA) project

Finalist of the Community Engagement Initiative of the Year Award

"‘Yindyamarra Winhanganha’ (an Indigenous (Wiradjuri) phrase that means the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in)"

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The GiCSA project is all about engaging, supporting, and inspiring communities. The project contributes to strengthening relationships with high schools in regional New South Wales and Victoria. By increasing cyber security awareness in young girls, the project contributes to preparing a cyber-aware future generation as well as inspiring girls for cyber careers. Cyber threats and scams such as hacking, identity theft, phishing, and remote access are on increase. Our young generation spends a large portion of their time in online social networks. Making them aware and conscious about the cyber threats contributes largely to the economic, social, and environmental outcomes for our communities. Women representation in cyber security industry is very low. Currently it is 11 percent in Australia, 10 percent in Asia-Pacific and only 5 percent in Middle East. The global representation is also only 11 percent despite women being approximately 50% of the global population. To address this decline in women participation in ICT in general and cyber security in particular, and to increase women participation in cyber security, GiCSA project plays a vital role in providing awareness about the cyber security training and careers for high school girls.

Key People

Professor Tanveer Zia
Associate Head of School
School of Computing & Mathematics,  Charles Sturt University


We acknowledge the sponsorship and support of following organisations and departments: Australian Government – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Australian Information Security Association Charles Sturt University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Engagement) Charles Sturt University Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences Charles Sturt University School of Computing and Mathematics Charles Sturt University AgriTech Incubator


2019 Women in Security Award - Best Higher Education Program for Young Ladies in Security

2019 Women in Security Award - Best Higher Education Program for Young Ladies in Security - Closeup Photo

GiCSA Port-Macquarie Group 2

GiCSA Port-Macquarie Group 1

GiCSA - Griffith Group

GiCSA - Bathurst Group in Action

GiCSA - Wagga Group

GiCSA - Albury Group

GiCSA - Albury Group 2

GiCSA - Dubbo Group


Impacting lifes

The GICSA project has impacted on 137 young girls in educating them about the need for women involvement in cyber security education and training. Most of the girls (59%) who participated in the project expressed interest in continuing their education in cyber security. The project has inspired many participating girls but one of the participants ‘Tamara Baker’ stood out.

Tamara is currently a Year 9 student at Melbourne Girls Grammar where she is excelling academically, with a focus on cyber security and computer science. Tamara was recently chosen to be one of six Ambassadors for Melbourne Knowledge Week 2019, the only one of which was under 18. The nomination was partly due to her developing a highly innovative mobile app to help vision-impaired people cross roads safely. Tamara has developed a passion for pursuing a career in cyber security as a means of helping her community and family. Tamara has been featured in recent media interviews, including a segment on ABC Radio Afternoons where she expressed an interest in working for the Australian Signals Directorate. Tamara is a role-model for her fellow female students, encouraging them to take consider learning coding through programs like Code Like A Girl. Tamara is well-ahead of the curve for young ladies in cyber security and is deserving of the Best Student Security Leader recognition. Video and blog on her efforts (

A short video about how the project has inspired a group of girls can be viewed through the following link:


Lessons learned

Women participation in cyber security education and career is normally undermined by the stereotype that cyber security is a man dominated career and women are less likely to progress in this career. However, women who are successful in cyber security related careers express their excitements when they are involved in solving complex problems, learning new technologies and contributing in innovative solutions. We also learned that women who receive sponsorship and mentoring are more likely to be successful in cyber world.

When we commenced the project we were not expecting the overwhelming response which we received from some the schools and career advisors. Similarly, sponsorships and support from industry organisations and the Faculty was very encouraging and this idea was well received by the education department. Another reason for the project to be successful was involvement of STEM Industry School Partnership (SISP) which is an initiative of the NSW Department of Education. SISP representatives in some of the regional areas were very active to liaison between the schools and the project team.

We didn’t expect that the project will be so popular that we were contacted by some schools outside NSW regions to offer the programs to their participants.


What's coming?

The GiCSA initiative is aligned with the "Our Communities" component of the Charles Sturt University strategy. The project has directly contributed to the impact and engagement of local communities in Charles Sturt University footprints by involving high schools in towns where Charles Sturt University campuses are located to promote greater participation of girls in the project.

Although the real outcomes of this project will not be realized until a few years, hoping this will increase female participation in STEM at broader and particularly ICT related courses in universities, the feedback received from participating students has been very positive and encouraging. The girls really enjoyed learning environment outside their schools.

The project is initially funded for two years. However, we have developed the cyber security training resources that can be available for schools to use beyond completion of the project. We have also found expression of interest from more schools in Victoria and South Australia. We are in conversation with the University of Adelaide in South Australia and Deakin University in Melbourne to explore if the project can be replicated. There is also possibility of receiving additional funding from other organisations such as Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre to extend the program.



High school girls participated in the project


Government and private high schools in NSW involved


Students further participating in Entrepreneurship and leadership workshop


Participating girls expressing intention to study cyber security

The Official Twitter account for Charles Sturt University


Twitter account of the GiCSA project lead


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