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Chaos Reigns At auDA As Security Head Suddenly Departs

Appointed amid much fanfare around October last year, auDA’s Director Technology, Security and Strategy, Rachael Falk, has suddenly departed 8 months later.

auDA, the .au policy and regulatory body, is claiming Falk has advised “that she will be resigning at the end of June to pursue other career opportunities.” According to the auDA statement, Falk says “the decision to offer my resignation was due to a number of factors, as I am seeking to pursue a range of different professional opportunities. I look forward to a close, ongoing professional relationship with auDA and fully support and endorse the leadership and direction of the organisation and its executive”.

However industry insiders who have spoken to your correspondent and also to the Australian Domainer blog have a completely different story. According to those speaking off the record, Falk found her position untenable and walked following pressures from senior management and the CEO calling into question her professionalism. While the auDA announcement states Falk is leaving at the end of June, industry sources say she is not going back.

Cybersecurity is a growing problem for business worldwide and the appointment of Falk was seen as something of a coup at the time for auDA. Prior to her appointment Falk was the General Manager for Cyber Influence at Telstra Corporation, responsible for raising awareness on cyber security issues for all 35,000 Telstra staff.

“Having Rachael join our team will ensure that auDA is at the forefront of cyber security thought leadership within the Australian digital community, and she will help galvanise our policy practises and set a new international benchmark for regulatory best-practice,” auDA said in post by their CEO in October.

Similarly, auDA chairman Stuart Benjamin congratulated Falk on her appointment during the auIGF last October, saying auDA needs to win back the trust of the community it serves, and emphasising the higher expectations of auDA – both externally from stakeholders and driven internally by the organisation itself, announcing he will be “seeking a lot more”, according to a post by Kathy Reid on her blog.

Falk’s departure comes at a time when auDA is going through a process of bringing the .au registry operations in house having broken off negotiations with Neustar-owned AusRegistry. AusRegistry has operated the .au registry since 2002. Falk’s departure is also another in a string of departures to have hit the organisation since CEO for 14 years, Chris Disspain, was unceremoniously dumped last year. While auDA claims to be driving change for the good of the organisation, the constant change and turmoil, as well as transparency and accountability disappearing, appears to suggest otherwise.

Comment was sought from Ms Falk but there was no reply. No comment was sought from auDA as they don’t discuss issues with industry blogs as they’re not considered part of the media and have previously refused to comment.

Thanks to for some references.

* Disclaimer: the writer was an auDA Board member (2005 to 2007), served on 3 auDA Names Policy Panels (2007, 2010 and 2015), was a client of auDA for 14 years and is now a client of AusRegistry proving online media monitoring services and contributing to the Behind the Dot magazine.