Australian Disaster Resilience Conference 2023 wrap

AIDR was pleased to welcome close to 600 delegates to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre for the 2023 Australian Disaster Resilience Conference on 23–24 August – with a staggering 75 per cent attending the conference for the first time.

This year’s program was one of our most diverse, receiving our largest number of abstracts since the Australian Disaster Resilience Conference began in 2018. With over 50 speakers on the program, this year’s conference reflected a diverse range of people, experiences and perspectives that allowed us to hear from fresh voices that proposed new, innovative ways to foster disaster resilience in line with the conference theme, ‘Resilience Reimagined’.

Image: Resilience Lane officially opens for Day 1 of ADRC23.

We officially opened Resilience Lane in the AFAC23 exhibition on day one of the conference. Sponsored by NRMA Insurance, the first-time feature was an excellent accompaniment to the Australian Disaster Resilience Conference program, featuring 15 not-for profit and community focussed organisations who showcased their work to strengthen community resilience.

The AIDR Knowledge Centre, also located in the exhibition, gave delegates the opportunity to discover the latest in research and best practice, as well as the chance to meet speakers from the conference and vote for the People’s Choice Poster Award.

The first day of the conference opened with Christopher Dawson welcoming us to Country in the lands of the Turrbal peoples on behalf of his Aunty, Elder Songwoman Maroochy. Piki Thomas and the extended Fire and Emergency New Zealand team followed by welcoming delegates to the conference and by gifting a Mauri stone to AFAC on behalf of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Image: Christopher Dawson gives his Welcome to Country during the opening ceremony.

Image: The Fire and Emergency NZ delegates welcome AFAC23 delegates to the conference.

Our conference proceedings began with Nazir Afzal OBE, Chancellor of the University of Manchester, delivering a keynote presentation reflecting on his career as the former Chief Crown Prosecutor and his Independent Culture Review of the London Fire Brigade,

As part of the ‘Preparing and recovering’ stream of the Australian Disaster Resilience Conference, Barbara Rix, Jordan Nye and Dr Claire Leppold talked us through the ways in which emergency management organisations can effectively collaborate with and learn from First Nations people in bushfire recovery. Delegates were led through a powerful healing song by Jordan Nye, demonstrating a key message of using culture as a source of healing and community resilience.

Liam Walter from the Insurance Council of Australia provided us with an overview of the growing climate risk in Australian from the perspective of an insurer. As part of the ‘Insurance action and strategy’ stream, Liam discussed importance of land use planning arrangements to reduce risks and how these policies can improve the affordability of insurance for Australians.

Image: Nazir Azfal OBE gives his keynote address.

Image: Barbara Rix, Jordan Nye and Dr Claire Leppold give their presentation at ADRC23.

Image: Liam Walter begins his presentation, ‘Insuring a resilient Australia’.

Day one of ADRC was capped off with the Queensland Ceremony for the 2023 Resilient Australia Awards. The following people and organisations were awarded:

  • Government Award – Department of Energy and Public Works and the Queensland Reconstruction Authority for the Resilient Home Fund, Disaster Resilient Program
  • Local Government Award – City of Moreton Bay for Places of Refuge and Balonne Shire Council for a memorandum of understanding – facilitating community, resilience and collaboration across borders
  • Business Award – JDA Co for Flood Resilience in Action: 2022 and Beyond
  • Community Award – Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation for whole of community resilience in the Southern Gulf of Carpentaria
  • Schools Award – Woodridge State High School Empowered, Resilient and World Changing
  • Photography Award – Bushfire Sunset by Omor Robin.

Image: AIDR Executive Director Margaret Moreton opens the Queensland RAA23 ceremony.

Image: Delegates attending the Queensland RAA23 ceremony.

On day two, Phoebe Quinn from the University of Melbourne and Bhiamie Williamson from Monash University presented on the need for dramatic shifts in disaster recovery approaches in respect to First Nations practices. The pair discussed how Indigenous notions of healing can play a positive role in mainstream discovery effort, reflecting on literature and theory that aligned with real healing-informed disaster recovery support.

Liz Mackinglay led an insightful panel on community perspectives or resilience reimagined, with speakers Natascha Wernick, Zena Armstrong and Melanie Bloor. The group spoke to how they have demonstrated leadership in preparedness in recovery, secured required resources and built cohesion to address long term recovery. The panel concluded with the speaker’s thoughts on what is needed for the resilience industry to be reimagined with communities like theirs.

We closed out day two’s proceedings with Martijn Gough, Kylie Macfarlane, Jean Palutikof, Russell Wise and Major General (Retd) Jake Ellwood providing an insightful panel discussion on the state of disaster resilience funding and the importance of investing in resilience in our communities. The panellists agreed that investment in resilience was not only about money, highlighting the importance of nationally inspired vision of a more just and sustainable Australia that is both disaster resilient and climate adapted.

Image: Phoebe Quinn and Bhiamie Williamson presenting at ADRC23.

Image: The ADRC panel on community perspectives on resilience reimagined.

Image: The closing panel discussing disaster resilience funding.

AIDR’s Executive Director, Margaret Moreton, announced the winners of the People’s Poster Award and the Judge’s Poster Award during the joint conference closing ceremony.

The following people were recognised:

  • Judge’s Choice Award – Dr Andrea Baldwin for her poster, Sharing the driving: Practical learnings from three mental health response programs under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements 2019-2023
  • People’s Choice Award – Rachel Cowling and Briody Walker for their poster, Fire Rescue Victoria Women’s Support Program – attracting, retaining and promoting women.

Image: Andrea Baldwin receiving the Judge’s Choice Award for her poster.

Image: Rachel Cowling and Briody Walker receive the People’s Choice Award for their poster.

The following day, AIDR hosted the National DRANZSEN Forum as part of the AFAC23 Professional Development Day, with people from across many sectors gathering to share their perspectives on disaster resilience education.

AIDR would like to thank our partners and sponsors for helping us to bring our biggest Australian Disaster Resilience Conference ever. Access the full proceedings for ADRC23 here.