The only thing that is constant is change – Heraclitus c.500BC

Since October 2019, Australia has experienced an astonishing stream of disasters and emergencies like never before. Reeling from widespread bushfires to floods and cyclones, then the Covid pandemic to heatwaves, the emergency management sector was given no time to take stock and refuel. No sooner does one event abate, another strikes.

EMC 2021 will examine how the sector is adapting to constantly changing events and scenarios. There is no ‘down-time’ any more. Emergency responders must move seamlessly from one event to the next. Each event has its own characteristics and demands a different set of responses and recovery procedures.


 Andrew Crisp, Emergency Management Commissioner, Victoria  |   Luke Wilson, Cross Border Commissioner, Victoria  |  Tony Pearce, Inspector-General for Emergency Management, Victoria  |  Joe Buffone, Director-General, Emergency Management Australia  Dr Niki Vincent, Commissioner for Gender Equity in the Public Sector  |  Jason Heffernan, Chief Officer, Country Fire Authority  |  Prof Catherine Bennett, Deakin University


  • DAY 1
  • DAY 2


9:30 AM

Welcome from the Emergency Management Commissioner

Andrew Crisp

10:00 AM

Climate and Resilience Services Australia

Dr Karl Braganza, Bureau of Meteorology

The national vision for a climate-resilient future.

10:30 AM

Policing in a COVID environment

Michael Grainger, Asst. Commissioner, Victoria Police

Victoria Police has responded like never before to the evolving COVID-19 Pandemic. This has required police, government and the public to work together to maintain a safe environment for all.  

11:00 AM

Keeping CFA contemporary in an ever changing climate

Jason Heffernan, Chief Officer, Country Fire Authority

LUNCH BREAK 11:30AM - 2:00PM

2:00 PM

Volunteer-driven initiatives: the expertise, adaptability and creativity of volunteers

Dr Faye Bendrups Vice Chair, National SES Volunteers Association (NSESVA)

This presentation will describe volunteer-initiated projects which lead the way in developing different ways of preparing communities for emergencies as well as encouraging first responders to embrace change and creative thinking.

2:30 PM

PANEL: Youth voices in emergencies

FACILITATOR: Dr Briony Towers, Research Fellow, Centre for Risk and Community Safety, RMIT University

Carla Hall, Youth Affairs Council Victoria
Scarlett Harrison, Eltham High, Alumni of Strathewen-Arthurs Creek Bushfire Education Partnership
Claire Lock, Victorian Student Representative Council, Youth Advisor with Women with Disabilities Australia & Victorian Department of Education
Reagan Morel, Life Saving Victoria
Meg Perry, YACVic Youth Bushfire Recovery Working Group
Faith Perry, YACVic Youth Bushfire Recovery Working Group

3:00 PM

Interstate incompatibility – How do we improve community safety?

Luke Wilson, Cross Border Commissioner

Victoria’s Cross Border Commissioner was drawn quickly into 2019-20 fires and later border restrictions. The lesson is to learn to Ask the Border Question – to avoid, remove, reduce or at least recognise the consequences of border anomalies in your patch.

3:30 PM

PANEL: Doing battle with the unknown: a municipal and workplace response to COVID 19 

CHAIR: Bek Ten Hoopen, Corporate Emergency Management Advisor, City of Greater Geelong

Edwina Farrell, Senior People and Culture Business Partner, City of Greater Geelong
Emma Wheatland, Coordinator Community Inclusion, City of Greater Geelong
Robyn Stevens, Director Community Life, City of Greater Geelong

4:00 PM



Laurie Lavelle Keynote

9:30 AM

Coronavirus infodemic

Prof Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology, Deakin University

The pandemic took the Australian and international communities into uncharted territory where misinformation can fuel fear and panic that is just as unsettling as the virus itself.

10:00 AM

Leading for better mental health –  a ground breaking new local approach

Siusan MacKenzie & Dr Sarah Hewat, Emergency Services Foundation

Leading for Better Mental Health is a pilot program ESF has run this year involving 52 participants from 12 Victorian agencies, to trial a new way of developing team leaders to help them create more mentally health work environments.

10:30 AM

PANEL: Communicating with diverse communities during crises and emergencies 

Mark Duckworth, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Resilient and Inclusive Societies, Deakin University
Tina Hosseini, Victorian Multicultural Commission
Cameron McLeod, Director, The Huddle

11:00 AM

Let’s talk about disability and emergency planning

Angela Cook, Country Fire Authority
Delia Harry, Bushfire Disability Advocate, Gippsland Disability Advocacy

The Preparing Vulnerable People Project aims to improve preparedness planning for people at greatest risk, including people with a disability and people who are older and frail.

LUNCH BREAK 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM

2:00 PM

CASE STUDY: A local government perspective on its response to the June 2021 severe weather event

Kym Mallamaci, Coordinator, Emergency Management, Yarra Ranges Council

The severe weather event on the 9th of June 2021 has been described as the worst seen in Victoria. In Yarra Ranges, 35kms east of Melbourne’s CBD, destructive winds uprooted swathes of trees; destroying over 70 homes in the Dandenong Ranges and surrounds and impacting roads, power, telecommunications and other infrastructure. In the Yarra Valley, moderate flooding also triggered an evacuation. In the 6 weeks that followed, over 360 Yarra Ranges Council staff, working with and beside its partners and community, undertook response, relief and early recovery actions in support of its residents and communities. In this session, Kym Mallamaci will present an overview of the work of Council, reflect on the planning that held Council in good stead and the rough edges that provide an opportunity for improvement.

2:30 PM

PANEL: Emergency Management Assurance 

Chair: Tony Pearce, Inspector-General for Emergency Management

Striving for improvement not perfection.

BRV’s outcomes and platform approach to support community-led recovery

Andrew Haywood, Bushfire Recovery Victoria

Building enduring, adaptive and connected recovery capability to enable better recovery outcomes for people and community.

DOT’s Resilience planning 

Jamie Crowe, Department of Transport & Jodie Wentworth, Transurban

Proactive collaboration between Government and Industry Partners responsible for managing critical infrastructure, enables continuous improvement in preparing for times of duress, stress, and responding to disruption events.

LSV’s COVID-safe Plan 

Mevan Jayawardena, Chief Operating Officer, Life Saving Victoria

The Claire Zara Memorial Oration

3:30 PM

Embedding gender equality in emergency management planning

Dr Niki Vincent, Commissioner for Gender Equality in the Public Sector

4:00 PM

Closing Remarks

Tony Pearce, Inspector-General for Emergency Management


3:00 PM

Community engagement before, during and after an emergency.
What should it look like and why is it so critical?

Tony Pearce, Inspector-General for Emergency Management

Where is our evidence of public sector community engagement drawn from and what does that tell us about the effectiveness of current processes and strategies? What is community, do our strategies consider diversity and what are community expectations of public sector agencies in engagement? What are the barriers to effective community engagement? How do we do it better?


10:00 AM

Preventing family violence in the context of COVID-19

Suzette Mitchell & Martin Turnbull, Respect Victoria

An advocacy guide for emergency response & recovery agencies.


3:00 PM

Ensuring Psychological First Aid is embedded in response

Anthony Tregenza & Kathy Cooney, Australian Red Cross


10:00 AM

Community champions 

Ann-Marie Roberts & Frances Ford, City of Greater Bendigo

Fire, flood and heat health preparedness for refugee communities.