News from the CRC


Paul Baxter - NZ Fire Service
Paul Baxter - NZ Fire Service
Release date
01 May 2014

Conference program set to go

Wellington is gearing up for a big event when it hosts AFAC14 in September this year.

The full speaker program for our 2014 annual conference was launched to the fire and emergency management sector last night in Melbourne.

New Zealand Fire Service Chief Executive and National Commander Paul Baxter welcomed the opportunity to host the conference in New Zealand.

"This conference has got more than 90 speakers from the research field, from management and other areas," Mr Baxter said.

"It has got everything you could possibly hope for: it's a really exciting program. The conference just continues to develop, going from strength to strength."

Up to 1000 delegates will gather in Wellington in September to discuss the latest challenges and trends in emergency management at the region’s major all hazards conference, the AFAC and Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC annual conference.

With 16 confirmed national and international speakers presenting at over 90 sessions over four days, AFAC Chief Executive Officer Stuart Ellis said this year’s conference theme After Disaster Strikes – Learning from Adversity was an opportunity for delegates to hear speakers from a range of industries and to network widely across the sector.

“Natural and man-made disasters strike all countries, but particularly in our region. Examining how emergency management services, land managers and communities prepare, respond to and assist with recovery is vital to developing evidence-based policy and practice,” Mr Ellis said.

“This conference is designed to bring together and share the combined wisdom of experience, research and analysis from across the sector to enable a deeper understanding of the approaches needed to secure the region’s future and prosperity.

This is the first time AFAC has partnered with the new Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC for the annual conference, following a decade of partnership with the Bushfire CRC.


Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Research Manager, Dr Michael Rumsewicz (above), said the conference and the Research Forum day will show why research and innovation are more important now than ever.  

“With an emphasis on the diversity of the research being conducted across all hazards, the science on show across the week will highlight the significant work being delivered to emergency service agencies. The conference and Research Forum present a great opportunity for all emergency management practitioners to learn what we are discovering about the biggest challenges in emergency management across Australasia, and finding ways to use this knowledge every day to make our communities safer,” Dr Thornton said.

Delegates will hear from a number of leading international and Australian experts including:

  • Tom Harbour – Director of the Fire and Aviation Management Program for the US Forest Service. Tom’s emergency management experiences have included fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, riots, floods, and other types of disasters all across America.
  • Therese Walsh – Head of New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Therese maintains a strong interest in the international aid sector having served on the Board of Save the Children and currently chairing the MFAT International Development Advisory and Selection Panel. She was also named the inaugural supreme winner of the New Zealand Women of Influence 2013 Award.
  • Professor David Johnston – Director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, GNS Science/Massey University. David’s research focuses on human responses to volcano, tsunami and weather warnings, crisis decision-making and the role of public education and participation in building community resilience and recovery. 
  • Dr Rory Nathan – General Manager Technology and Practice, Sinclair Knight Merz.  Rory was lead author of the Australian guidelines on the estimation of large to extreme floods.

Key activities over the week include:

  • 1-day, all hazards Research Forum:  Tuesday 2 September
  • 2-day conference: 3-4 September
  • Gala Dinner: Wednesday 3 September
  • 5 Professional Development Workshops: 5 September
  • 4 Field Study Tours from 5 September

Check out the full conference program:

More news from the CRC

New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
Black Saturday 2009 Kinglake
Research is helping government and emergency management agencies identify and allocate ownership of risks, how risk owners are responsible, and what they can do to manage them.
Planning for animals during an emergency adds another layer of complexity.
Australians love their pets – and this influences how people behave during an emergency, with emergency services incorporating findings from research to influence their plans and policies during disasters.
A flood wipes out a bridge in southern WA, February 2017. Photo: Dana Fairhead
Changing the focus of warning messages based on research has been the key to ensure critical safety advice is heard and acted upon.
Photo: Sascha Grant CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Using the latest satellite-based earth observation systems and the Himawari satellite, research will allow fire managers to hone in on bushfires before they become too large to handle.
Photo: Michael Dawes (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Research has shown that improvements can be made that can strengthen houses to reduce wind damage, as well as save money through the reduction of insurance premiums.
Photo: South Australia SES
‘What if?’ scenario modelling by the CRC is helping government, planning authorities and emergency service agencies think through the costs and consequences of various options on preparing for major disasters and how...
Photo: South Australia SES
Emergency Management Victoria is embedding national findings to develop a better understanding of resilience at the state level, using baseline data to build a ‘living’ resilience index within the organisation.
Photo: New Zealand Fire Service

Teamwork is essential to ensure incident management teams function to the best of their ability in challenging and high stakes environments. To help improve teamwork, practical tools have been developed by the...

Prescribed burning underway. Photo Veronique Florec
Not everything that is important can be assigned a dollar value, with research helping natural hazards managers justify the use and allocation of resources for mitigation efforts.

News archives

AFAC17 logo

AFAC17 logo

All the resources from our 2017 conference

National research priorities for natural hazards

National research priorities for natural hazards

National priorities for research

November update: Southern Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2017-18

Bushfire outlook 2017-18

Four years of highlights

Bushfire planning with kids ebook

Explore by keyword