Scholar | Practitioner | Author | Public Commentator
Denis’ professional career encompasses the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. He has worked as a civil engineer on multi-million dollar construction projects, led humanitarian aid missions in several war zones, consulted to United Nations agencies, lectured at the University of Melbourne, directed corporate and philanthropic fundraising at Australian Red Cross and now sits on the Australian government's Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
A graduate from the University of Adelaide with a degree in Civil Engineering, Denis relocated to Singapore to work on major construction projects including building a tunnel in Changi Airport. With a background in project management as an engineer and a desire for more fulfilling work led to a move to Washington D.C. to complete the Masters of Science in Foreign Service degree at Georgetown University where he also worked as a research assistant to the former United States National Security Adviser, Anthony Lake.
Following the 1999 civil war in East Timor, Denis was hired as a shelter engineer for the International Rescue Committee, a leading US humanitarian organisation. He spent the next year traversing the country helping communities build thousands of temporary homes as well as supporting job creation through the management of a small business grants program. Handing over responsibilities to Timorese staff as soon as a team was established and trained he then moved to Wau, Sudan, during the country’s long running civil war.
Over the subsequent ten years Denis worked in South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa running humanitarian and development activities including as Country Director, Iraq, for CHF International, where he led community development and micro-finance programs with an annual budget in excess of US$100m.
Through this decade he worked with tribal chiefs, ayatollahs and militants; led the efforts to release the first aid worker kidnapped in Iraq; established refugee camps and along the way saw some of the worst and the best that humanity has to offer. These stories, among others, are now part of a book, No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis (Odyssey Books, 2018).
Not content with the solutions being offered by the international community to countries transitioning from war to peace, Denis completed a doctorate in political theology at the University of St Andrews studying the role of religion in rebuilding countries after war. This research led to the publication of the book Religion and Post-Conflict Statebuilding: Roman Catholic and Sunni Islamic Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and other research on peace, human rights, religion and war. With a focus on the Middle East his scholarly work has been translated into Arabic.
Since returning to Australia, Denis has leveraged his mix of academic expertise and practical insights to establish himself as a regular media commentator on religion, human rights, the Middle East and terrorism. Alongside providing expert commentary he is an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne and a board member of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
On the 9th May 2022 Dr Dragovic was appointed by the Governor-General of Australia, General David Hurley, to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal as a Deputy President where he specialises in hearing appeals on asylum cases.