About ISS Institute

The International Specialised Skills Institute (ISS Institute) exists to foster an aspirational, skilled and smart Australia by cultivating the mastery and knowledge of talented Australians through international applied research Fellowships.

The ISS Institute is proud of its heritage. The organisation was founded over 26 years ago by Sir James Gobbo AC CVO QC, former Governor of Victoria, to encourage investment in the development of Australia’s specialised skills. Our international Fellowship program supports many Australians and international leaders across a broad cross-section of industries and sectors to undertake applied international research that benefits economic development through vocational training, industry innovation and advancement. To date over 350 Australian and international Fellows have undertaken Fellowships facilitated through the ISS Institute. Our Fellowship Program encourages mutual and shared learning, leadership and communities of practice.


At the heart of the ISS Institute are our individual Fellows. Under our Fellowship Program the Fellows travel overseas and, upon their return, pass on their newly acquired knowledge and skills through:

  • Publication of a detailed Fellowship Report distributed to government, industry, educational institutions and peers
  • Recommending improvements and enhancements in the areas of education, training, trades and community
  • Introducing new practices and techniques
  • Disseminating their learnings, findings and recommendations via workshops, conferences and forums.

The organisation plays a pivotal role in creating value and opportunity, encouraging new thinking and the early adoption of ideas and practice.

“We are a unique organisation. There is no other organisation that provides these kinds of Fellowships, it’s a gap that’s there that has not been able to be filled by others … Increasing productivity is what these Fellowships are all about.”

Sir James Gobbo AC CVO, Founder of the ISS Institute

“I am proud to be a Fellow of the International Specialised Skills Institute, a cache that carries merit beyond the parameters of my particular research and report.”

Archie Fusillo, 2014 Italian Services Institute Fellow

Board of Management

The ISS Institute is supported by dedicated Patrons and governed by Board Members who willingly give of their time to support the organisation’s mission, vision and purpose.

  • Patron in Chief: Lady Primrose Potter AC
  • Patrons: Mr Tony Schiavello AO and Mr James MacKenzie
  • Founder/Board Member: Sir James Gobbo AC, CVO
  • Chairperson: Professor Amalia Di Iorio
  • Deputy Chairperson: Rosemary O’Connor
  • Treasurer: Jack O’Connell AO
  • Secretary: Alisia Romanin
  • Board Members: John Baker, Bella Irlicht AM, Jon Onley, Camilla Roberts and Mark Kerr


The ISS Institute has a team of dedicated and experienced staff who work together to lead our Fellowship Program and other initiatives.

  • Chief Executive Officer: Louisa Ellum
  • Finance Manager: Keith Beecher
  • Fellowship Program Manager: Fiona Waugh
  • Fellowship Portfolio Manager: Wendy Draayers
  • Communications Officer: Gabi Barkmeyer

“The bestowing of Fellowship was an honour. Being able to compare and peg Australian skills against the International best (Finland) was an eye-opening experience. Sharing of the newly learned skills with colleagues in different vocational educational settings was gratifying and rewarding. The support provided to me by the ISS Institute made me feel important; I was an individual with explicit skills and expertise and with specific value equipped to make a difference in the world of education.”

Rajiv Gushlan, 2015 HESG Fellow


The ISS Institute could not provide Fellowship opportunities without the generosity and support of committed Investors who share our desire to build an aspirational, skilled and cutting-edge Australia. We, and our Fellows, are currently supported by the following government, corporate and philanthropic Investors.

Since the ISS Institute was founded, the organization has been supported by a significant number of Investors. We thank each and every one of them for investing in our vision and our Fellowship Program.

The ISS Institute is recognised by the Australian Tax Office and the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission as a Charity with Deductible Gift Recipient Status.

If you are interested in discussing Fellowship investment opportunities please contact our Chief Executive Officer on 03 9347 4583.

International Specialised Skills Institute