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.



Dr Norman Swan, Health journalist and commentator  |  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  |  Dr Catherine Bennett, Deakin University


  • DAY 1
  • DAY 2


8:00 AM


Chair: Mark Swiney, Fire Rescue Victoria

8:50 AM

Acknowledgement of Country

8:55 AM

Welcome from the Minister

9:00 AM

Welcome from the Emergency Management Commissioner

Andrew Crisp

Laurie Lavell Keynote

9:25 AM

Communicating during the pandemic – political, medical and community interaction in a complex emergency

Dr Norman Swan, Health journalist and commentator

10:25 AM


Early learnings from COVID-19
Chair: Acting S/Insp Jennifer Forsyth, Victoria Police

Community Engagement

Mental Health Prevention and Intervention
Chair: Siusan MacKenzie, Emergency Services Foundation

10:50 AM

Policing in a COVID environment

Michael Grainger, Asst. Commissioner, Victoria Police

Delivery on Demand – adopting digital

Lauren Eudey & Christina Hanger, Country Fire Authority

COVID forced CFA’s community engagement programs online.

Preparing people for the role of preventing trauma

Deb Parkin & John Chatfield, Office of the Inspector-General for Emergency Management

11:25 AM

Volunteers adapting in pandemic conditions 

Nadine Hutchins, St John Ambulance (Victoria)

When COVID-19 arrived in 2020, events face-to-face training & divisional meetings were cancelled. Discover how St John’s volunteers adapted to ensure they could provide essential services during the pandemic.

Two-way fire safety project

Emma Anderson & Amanda Gaskill, City of Greater Geelong

Improving fire safety in at-risk communities.

A new approach to resilience training

Sophie Barrett, Ambulance Victoria

12:00 PM

The State Control Centre experience

Deb Abbott, Deputy Commissioner, Emergency Management Victoria

Community champions

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

Fire, flood and heat health preparedness for refugee communities.

Ensuring Physiological First Aid is embedded in response

Anthony Tregenza & Kathy Cooney, Australian Red Cross

12:35 PM


Emergency Management Assurance
Chair: Tony Pearce, IGEM

Early learnings from COVID-19
Chair: Brad Quinn, Fire Rescue Victoria

Climate Change and Initiatives

Striving for improvement not perfection

1:30 PM

[1:35 PM] LSV’s COVID-safe plan

Mevan Jayawardena, Chief Operating Officer, Life Saving Victoria

Remote workforces

Greg Stenton, Department of Health

Logistics of responding to COVID, while working remotely.

Climate and Resilience Services Australia

Dr Karl Braganza, Bureau of Meteorology

The national vision for a climate-resilient future

[1:55 PM] DOT’s Resilience planning

Jamie Crowe, Dept of Transport & 
Jodie Wentworth, Transurban

2:05 PM

[2:15 PM] BRV’s outcome and platform approach to support community-led recovery

Eric Savoie, Bushfire Recovery Victoria

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

Operations by wire

Justin Dunlop, Ambulance Victoria

Running an operations centre during COVID lockdown.

Extinguishing the use of single-use plastics

Brenton Hobden, Dept of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Phasing out single use plastic water bottles is increasingly difficult during emergency response conditions. DELWP rolled out water filtering jerry cans to keep emergency workers safely hydrated in an environmentally conscious way.

2:40 PM

[2:35 PM] Panel discussion

Doing battle with the unknown

Bek Ten Hoopen, Leigh McCallum, Edwina Farrell & Kaarina Phyland, City of Greater Geelong

The City’s municipal and workplace response to COVID-19. 

Climate adaptation plan

Sally Mangan, Ambulance Victoria, Sustainability Team

The impacts of climate change are being felt now and into the future. Hear more about AV’s plans and action underway – both for emissions reduction and climate adaptation.

3:05 PM


The Claire Zara Memorial Oration

3:15 PM


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

3:50 PM


4:10 PM


Jason Heffernan, Chief Officer, Country Fire Authority

4:45 PM

National resilience, relief and recovery – new federal arrangements to remove uncertainty across the sector

Joe Buffone, Director-General, Emergency Management Australia

5:20 PM


5:30 PM

Conference Cocktails

7:00 PM

Conference Dinner


8:30 AM


8:45 AM

ESF programs

Siusan MacKenzie, Emergency Services Foundation

8:55 AM

Coronavirus infodemic

Prof Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology, Deakin University

9:35 AM

Interstate incompatibility – How do we improve community safety?

Luke Wilson, Cross Border Commissioner

Issues on the border during national disasters and border closures.

10:15 AM


Future Emergency Management

Mental Health Prevention and Intervention
Chair: Deb Martindale, SentientCo


10:35 AM

PANEL: Critical Infrastructure-managing through major emergencies


Agencies discuss the importance of infrastructure and engagement between stakeholders.

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.

PANEL: Communicating with diverse communities during crises and emergencies 

Dr Hass Dellal, Australian Multicultural Foundation
Tina Hosseini, Victorian Multicultural Commission
[TBC], Department of Health

11:10 AM

Water supply; resilience to shocks and dynamic change 

Joanne Wallace, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Mitigating risk from emerging threats and both man-made and natural incidents.

Starting young to build resilience

Emma Atkins, Lifesaving Victoria

Protecting vulnerable people

Angela Cook, Country Fire Authority

11:45 PM

High-risk community evacuation

Bob Raaymakers, Victoria Police
Kym Mallamaci & Kelly Hofert, Yarra Ranges Council
Tammy Garrett & Tarryn Campbell, Country Fire Authority

Real-life exercise at Powelltown with agencies and community.

What people want: ESF research on stigma and help-seeking

Dr Ellie Lawrence-Wood, Phoenix Australia 

Preventing family violence in the context of COVID-19 

Suzette Mitchell, Respect Victoria 

An advocacy guide for emergency response & recovery agencies. 

12:20 PM


Community Engagement

Future Emergency Management
Chair: Dr Sarah Harris, Country Fire Authority


1:15 PM

Community expectations of engagement

Tony Pearce, Inspector-General for Emergency Management


Dr Simon Heemstra, Bureau of Meteorology

Indigenous recruiting program at FRV 

Aaron Felmingham, Fire Rescue Victoria

1:35 PM  Q&A

1:50 PM

Volunteer driven initiatives – the expertise, adaptability and creativity of volunteers

Faye Bendrups, National SES Volunteers Association

Maritime Emergencies and near misses

Dr Michael Holloway, Department of Transport

Non-SAR incidents at sea.

2:25 PM

Fire Permits Victoria web based digital fire permits

Peter Baker, Country Fire Authority
Kate Elzinga, Dept of Environment, Land, Water and Plannning
Paul Horton, Fire Rescue Victoria

Streamlining the permit process.

Remodelling and production of new Base-Camp equipment

Russell Manning, Dept of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Rollout of new site equipment in 2019-20.

3:00 PM


3:20 PM


3:50 PM

Closing address

Tony Pearce, Chairman, Emergency Services Foundation

Principle sponsors:

Emergency Management Victoria | Bureau of Meteorology | Inspector-General for Emergency Management | Department of Health | Department of Families, Fairness and Housing | Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions | Department of Transport | Dassault Systemes Australia

4:00 PM