The Delta outbreak has created a new hurdle for the Australian National University's student-led Australian Crisis Simulation Summit in its second year of operation.
The five-day event, starting on Monday, includes three crisis simulations where 70 student delegates from across the country take on the role of various government departments such as DFAT, defence, intelligence and home affairs.
The summit was designed to have an in-person collaboration and mentoring component, alongside three virtual hypothetical crises, including tensions in the Pacific, foreign interference and even the effects of international space law.
Connor Kneebone, the chief technology officer, said his room had turned into a tech hub to ensure the summit still runs effectively.
"Since the lockdown it has been pretty crazy, my room has effectively turned into a studio," he said.
Director Gemma Dabkowski said while it was disappointing there wouldn't be an in-person experience like last year, she viewed it as an opportunity to prepare the future generation to adapt to web conferencing.
"Turning completely virtual helps people from across the country have a say on how to approach Australia's pressing national security issues," Ms Dabkowski said.
"It's vital to avoid narrowing our security approach to the perspective of those in the Canberra bubble. Industry, government and academia all over the country is the future multi-disciplinary approach for solving complex security issues.
"We have definitely needed to get creative with tech. Our 40 team members have acquired monitors, cables and video platforming to ensure we have a smooth, functioning week."
Deputy director Isaac Hayne highlighted how the summit focused on supporting students with their career development. This year's mentors include ANU chancellor Julie Bishop and MP Mark Dreyfus, some of the many supporting 70 delegates across the country.
"COVID has completely changed networking for young people. Before the pandemic I used to think it involved handing out business cards," Mr Hayne said.
"We're now using an online networking platform, Brella, to create an ease of access between delegates and mentors all over the country.
"We even had more sponsors agree to support us after Canberra lockdown, which goes to show how much the networking environment is changing due to the pandemic."
ANU historian and intelligence expert, Professor John Blaxland, is one of the mentors. He saw value in combining technology with solving national security crises.
"It's so refreshing to see students challenge the orthodoxy of academic learning, their ability to embrace technology is groundbreaking for the future," he said.
The group has raised up to $70,000 in sponsorship from organisations such as the ANU, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Australian Space Agency and government departments has supported the summit to ensure students experience the security crises in the most realistic way possible.
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