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Knowledge shared to strengthen emergency management

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30 Aug 2013
More than 1700 fire, emergency service, and land management staff will meet with fire researchers in Melbourne next week as part of AFAC 13 conference.

They are meeting for the 20th annual Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) and 10th annual Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) conference held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (2-5 September). 

AFAC CEO Stuart Ellis said the conference was the biggest ever, and a chance for Australia’s fire, emergency service and land management agencies to get together with leading scientists to discuss the latest challenges and trends in emergency management at the most important all hazards conference of its kind in Australasia. 

“The AFAC and Bushfire CRC conference is the most important knowledge sharing event in the emergency management annual calendar. Our key objective is to ensure that the collective industry knowledge and experience is captured and shared between peers,” Mr Ellis said. 

Gary Morgan, CEO of the Bushfire CRC, believes the conference will show why research and innovation are more important now than ever. 

“Sharing research knowledge has been, and continues to be, a significant element of the Bushfire CRC. The research outcomes to be released this week will highlight the breadth and quality of the science the Bushfire CRC has delivered in the last decade.” Mr Morgan said. 

Chair of the Conference Steering Committee Euan Ferguson, Chief Officer of the Country Fire Authority, welcomed the opportunity to host the conference in Melbourne in partnership with the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Service Board, Parks Victoria, Victoria State Emergency Service and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. 

“We are pleased that Victoria can play host to the many national and international representatives working in the emergency services industry,” Mr Ferguson said. 

Over 90 national and international speakers are presenting over four days, said Department of Environment and Primary Industries Chief Officer Alan Goodwin

“It’s great to hear from experts in their fields on key issues, not just in fire management, but also land management and planned burning,” Mr Goodwin said. 

Fire Service Commissioner Craig Lapsley believes the timing of the conference is important. 

"As Victoria moves towards an integrated, all hazards and all emergencies model of emergency management, it is more important than ever to share and build on existing and new knowledge to 
ensure the fire and emergency management sector state wide and across Australia continuously improves the way we operate together for the benefit of the community," Mr Lapsley said. 

MFB CEO Nick Easy said conference would benefit MFB staff. 

“The conference is an excellent opportunity for MFB staff to meet with staff from other agencies around the country to discuss the newest advances and developments in emergency services,” said Mr Easy. 

Mary Barry, Victoria State Emergency Service CEO, said the conference will provide new insights for the sector. 

“Victoria’s emergency services have a strong culture of working together during major emergencies and it will be interesting to share our experiences with our counterparts across Australia and the globe,” she said. 
Leading international and Australian experts speaking during the week include: 

  • Professor Tim Flannery – Chief Climate Commissioner 
  • David Kaufman - Associate Administrator for Policy, Program Analysis, and International Affairs, Federal Emergency Management Agency, USA 
  • Professor John Handmer - Centre for Risk and Community Safety, and Human Security Program, RMIT University 
  • Dr Stefan Hajkowicz - Principal Scientist, CSIRO 
  • Ivan Pupulidy, Director, US Forest Service 
  • Vij Randeniya - Chief Fire Officer, West Midlands Fire Service, UK 
  • Dr Richard Gasaway – ex Chief Officer and founder of Situational Awareness Matters, USA 
  • Professor Kate Auty - Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria 
  • Neil Comrie - President, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board 
  • Professor John Alford - Professor of Public Sector Management at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government 
  • Sam Johnson - Founder of the New Zealand Student Volunteer Army 
  • Philip Stittleburg - Chief of the La Farge Fire Department, Wisconsin, USA 

For more information contact: 
Nathan Maddock, Bushfire CRC, 0439 377 080 
Shesiedo Frederiks, AFAC,, 0413 187 997 

About AFAC 
The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC )is the peak body for Australasian fire, land management and emergency services, creating synergy across the industry. 

About the Bushfire CRC 
The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre is funded by the Australian Government as the national research centre for fire and emergency services.

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