Australian Disaster Resilience Conference 2021

Speaker profiles

Speakers and panels

Explore the people and presentations coming to the 2021 Australian Disaster Resilience Conference.

Dominique Hogan-DoranDominique Hogan-Doran SC

Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements


Keynote speaker – shared with AFAC21

Dominique Hogan-Doran SC is a leading Senior Counsel of the Australian Bar. She conducts a national practice, appearing as an advocate in superior courts & tribunals, as well as Royal Commissions & public inquiries, including ICAC. Drawing on her operational experience as a trustee & company director, she also advises on risk, integrity, and governance issues.

During 2020, Dominique led the Counsel Assisting team for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

Dominique is a graduate of the University of Sydney (B.Ec (Soc Sc), LLB (Hons I), LLM) where she was awarded the Convocation Medal, and the University of Oxford (BCL (Hons I)), where she was the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholar in Law.

Dominique was called to the independent Bar in 1995, following stints as Research Director to the Chief Justice of New South Wales and as a lawyer at Mallesons Stephen Jacques. She built her career as a barrister whilst balancing the responsibilities of raising three young children.

Dominique is a past President of Australian Women Lawyers Inc and the Women Lawyers Association of New South Wales. She is Chair of the Australian Bar Association’s Futures Committee and an Officer of the International Bar Association’s Bar Regulation Committee.

In 2016, Dominque was awarded ‘Barrister of the Year’ at the Australian Law Awards.

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Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM


Resilience NSW


Keynote speaker – shared with AFAC21

Shane Fitzsimmons was appointed as the inaugural Commissioner of Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management with the Department of Premier and Cabinet from May 1, 2020. This appointment followed a distinguished career with the NSW Rural Fire Service of over 35 years.

In 1998, he was appointed an Assistant Commissioner with the RFS and has held portfolio responsibilities for Operations, Strategic Development and Regional Management. In 2004, he was appointed the inaugural Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) Visiting Fellow to the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM) for a period of 12 months.

From September 2007 to April 2020, he was Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service and was also the Chair of the NSW RFS Bushfire Coordinating Committee and the Rural Fire Service Advisory Council. He was also a member of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee and the NSW State Rescue Board (SRB) and was Chair of SRB from 2008 to November 2015.

In July 2012, he was appointed a Board Member of the NSW Government Telecommunications Authority. He was appointed a Director of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) in March of 2008 and was the Chair of the NAFC Board from 2009 to 2013. He was a Director on the Bushfire Co-Operative Research Centre from 2009 to 2014.

He was a member of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council from 2007 and was a member of its Board from November 2016 to November 2019 and held the position of Deputy President upon retirement from the Board.

In January 2016, he was appointed as a Councillor of the Royal Humane Society of NSW Inc. Commissioner Fitzsimmons was awarded the National Medal in 1999 and the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in 2001.

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Turia PillTuria Pitt

Mindset Coach, Author and Athlete



Keynote speaker – shared with AFAC21

Turia Pitt is living proof that, with the right mindset, anything is possible.

Caught in a grassfire while competing in a 100km ultramarathon in 2011, Turia suffered full-thickness burns to 65% of her body. But surviving is the least of her achievements.

One of Australia’s most admired and widely recognised people, Turia has gone on to become a bestselling author, two-time Ironman and humanitarian - raising well over a million dollars for not-for-profit Interplast. Through her online presence, books and online programs, Turia has inspired millions to live with more confidence, drop their fears and smash epic goals.

Stan Grant

International Affairs Analyst

Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Keynote speaker – shared with AFAC21

Stan Grant is the International Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – a multi-award-winning current affairs host, an author and an adventurer.

Well-known for having brought the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to tears when interviewed about Indigenous affairs on The Point, Stan’s keynotes are insightful, engaging, always professional and at times, controversial.

Stan Grant’s Aboriginal heritage has shaped his dynamic, resilient personality. Born in Griffith in south-west New South Wales in 1963, Stan Grant’s mother is from the Kamilaroi people and his father is of the Wiradjuri.

Stan spent most of his childhood on the road living in small towns and Aboriginal communities across outback NSW. His father was an itinerant saw-miller who worked when and where he could. Stan moved so often, he attended 12 different schools before he was in his teens.

The early traveling gave Stan a love of adventure and stories. He grew up listening to the tales of his grandfather and uncles and aunts. Despite poverty and an early sporadic education, the security of his family and the larger Aboriginal community gave him a strong platform for life.

After attending University, Stan won a cadetship with the Macquarie Radio Network, launching a career in journalism that has spanned more than 30 years and more than 70 countries. In that time, Stan has travelled the world covering the major stories of our time from the release of Nelson Mandela, the troubles in Northern Island, the death of Princess Diana, war in Iraq, the second Palestinian intifada, the war on terror, the South Asia Tsunami, the Pakistan Earthquake and the rise of China.

Stan has hosted major news and current affairs programs on Australian commercial and public TV. He has been a political correspondent for the ABC, a Europe correspondent for the Seven Network based in London, and a senior international correspondent for the international broadcaster CNN based in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Returning to Australia in 2013, Stan continued to cover international events for Sky News Australia and reignited his passion for telling the stories of his own indigenous people. He has worked as the Indigenous editor for the Guardian Australia, managing editor for National Indigenous Television and international editor for Sky News. In 2016 Stan Grant was appointed as the special advisor to the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Indigenous constitutional recognition.

Stan has won many major awards including an Australian TV Logie, a Columbia University Du-Pont Award (the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize), and the prestigious U.S. Peabody Award. He is a four-time winner of the highly prized Asia TV Awards, including reporter of the year.

Stan has written ‘The Tears of Strangers’ and ‘Talking to My Country’ (Harper Collins) and has published numerous articles and opinion pieces for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

Stan Grant is passionate about justice and humanity. His years of international reporting has given him a deep understanding of how the world works. He is deeply immersed in the politics and history of Asia and the Middle East. He can link the importance of leadership and the impact of history and above all believes in the power and resilience of people.

Stan is married to ABC Sports Broadcaster, Tracey Holmes, and has four children. He lives in Sydney.

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Nico Padovan PSM

Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO

National Recovery and Resilience Agency


A National Approach to Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

Join National Recovery and Resilience Agency Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO Nico Padovan PSM who will present on the Agency’s establishment and vision for a national approach to disaster recovery, resilience and risk mitigation. Nico will provide an overview of the work the Agency is delivering to support recovery from previous disasters (including DRFA activations, the Black Summer bushfires and the 2019 North Queensland Monsoon Trough), the Agency’s renewed national focus on resilience, new initiatives that are in the design and implementation phases, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.

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Karen McPaul

Director, Policy, Research and Analysis, Resilience Division

Queensland Reconstruction Authority


Policy maker to policy taker - applying learnings from a lived experience

As policy makers, we base our decisions on research, knowledge and understanding. But what happens when the policy maker becomes the policy taker? What happens when the decisions made in a city office are put into practice on the ground and that same person is on the other side of the counter, in their community, standing side by side with other disaster-impacted community members?

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deborah o'connellDr Deborah O'Connell




Disaster resilient and adaptive to change - narratives to shape achievable visions of resilience, support coordinated practice and catalyse collective action

Narratives are increasingly important to catalyse systemic change. A wealth of evidence demonstrates the ways in which stories help create sense and meaning for people and support decision-making. This presentation uses the example of narrative development and use for adaptation and resilience in Queensland. 

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Daniel Aldrich

Director of Resilience and Security Studies

Northeastern University, Boston



Kate Carnell AO

Company director and small business advisor




Renae Hanvin

Founder and Director




David Parsons


Crisis Management Australia



James Ritchie

Strategist and International Disaster Risk and Resilience Advisor



Panel: Sharing responsibility with the business community to build national resilience 

In this panel presentation Company Director and Small Business Advocate, Kate Carnell AO, global social capital expert Professor Daniel Aldrich, emergency management planning specialist David Parsons and international resilience advisor, James Ritchie will share insights and examples.

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Shauna Coffey

Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities



A deeper look at the economic cost drivers of natural disasters

In 2016, the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities looked at how natural disasters impact mental health, domestic violence and other social issues and developed, for the first time, a comprehensive estimate of the total economic cost of natural disasters in Australia. This presentation will share an update on the economic costs of natural disasters. 

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briony towersDr Briony Towers





leigh johnson

Leigh Johnson


Harkaway Primary School


Learner agency in bushfire education: an explanatory case study from Harkaway Primary School, Victoria

RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC partnered with Harkaway Primary School to conduct an explanatory case study which sought to establish how project-based learning can promote learner agency in bushfire education and support children’s genuine participation in risk reduction initiatives at home, at school, and in the wider community.

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Quinn Obran

Youth Affairs Council Victoria



Carla Hall

Youth Affairs Council Victoria



Engaging young people at the centre of bushfire recovery

Immediately following the devastating Victorian bushfires over the 2019-20 summer, Youth Affairs Council Victoria consulted on and developed a Youth Focused Disaster Recovery Protocol. At the heart of the Protocol is the principle that young people are experts in their own lives and deserve to have their perspectives and abilities included in recovery and rebuilding.

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Belinda Dunbar

Child and Youth Project Officer

South Australian Country Fire Service



Chris Sedunary

Community Engagement and Partners Project Officer

South Australian Country Fire Service


Shifting the paradigm: trialling student and school community led disaster risk reduction programs in South Australia

This presentation will show how school communities can be empowered to reduce their disaster risk, create robust procedures and safer sites and deliver quality disaster resilience education through proactive and adaptive community engagement of the entire school community with embedded youth voice.

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kylie mcmahonKylie McMahon

City of Ryde Council



City of Ryde resilience planning - A journey of collaboration and engagement

This presentation shares key elements of this resilience journey and learnings from a complex process of collaboration. The Ryde Resilience Plan 2030 is the first to be adopted by local government in NSW and one of the first of its kind in Australia. The Plan serves as a local blueprint combining planning, governance, conservation and adaptive risk management to ensure our city will ‘thrive and survive’ in the face of resilience obstacles.

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Dr Kamaljit K Sangha

Charles Darwin University



Building resilience in remote Indigenous communities across northern Australia

Scenario planning workshop discussions and associated analyses will be presented, offering insights into the delivery of cost-effective and improved emergency management services and country-based economic opportunities that can empower and build resilience of vulnerable remote communities, and help address emergency management issues in culturally appropriate ways.

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Dr Jean Renouf

Southern Cross University



Resilient Byron Inc - A systems thinking model to bolster community regeneration and resilience

The presentation provides a comprehensive and inclusive model to bolster community resilience and regenerative capacities through the study of Resilient Byron Inc., a not-for-profit charity operating in the Byron Shire, northern NSW. Resilient Byron is a model of systems-thinking approach that fosters the cocreation of dynamic responses to uncertainties. Resilient Byron helps communities and neighbourhoods develop their own capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters, by increasing social cohesion and regenerative capacity at the individual, community, and bioregional scales in times of nonemergency.

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Helen Styles

Mackay Regional Council




A/Prof Michelle Villeneuve

Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney



Person-centred emergency management approach: A case study from Mackay, Queensland

This presentation describes how one regional city employed a capacity development approach to engage community, health, aged care, and disability service providers, together with emergency managers, to learn about and use the Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) toolkit to impact the disaster resilience of people with disability and other high-risk groups.

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Berinda Karp

Autism STEP Australia



Ask me what I need? Autism awareness training project for emergency services

This project won both the NSW Resilience Community Award and the National Resilience Community Awards for 2020. The end product is a five minute training video providing basic Autism awareness for emergency services personnel to implement when engaging with youth and adults that identify as autistic. It is the first project to address the needs of Autistic adults in relation to emergency services. At all stages of the project Autistic adults were equally consulted and included. The Presentation will provide background to the project, further autism awareness and viewing of the video.

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John Richardson 

National Resilience Advisor

Australian Red Cross



Agathe Randrianarisoa

Australian Red Cross



Understanding preparedness and recovery. A survey of people’s preparedness and recovery experience for emergencies

Emergency recovery goes beyond survival. It is a complex process with potentially long-lasting impacts on people’s lives. Within research, policy and practice, there is a widespread assumption that preparing for a disaster has a positive impact on recovery. However, there is a limited amount of research proving this link between preparedness actions and recovery.

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Louise Mitchell

Social Recovery Reference Group




Miranda Hampton

Senior Community Resilience Officer

Adelaide Hills Council


An Australia wide learning network: Grappling with complexity to sustain a responsive community recovery

The Possibility Lab Community of Practice for Recovery Practitioners was established in recognition of the potential benefits of connecting recovery practitioners across the nation, with information, expertise, peers and other resources to support and guide good practice and decision making. This presentation will outline the feedback from the evaluation of the Possibility Lab that can inform any future iterations of supports across the nation for these positions supporting our communities.

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Prof Lisa Gibbs

University of Melbourne



Andrew Coghlan

Australian Red Cross



Seeking the ideal in the realm of recovery - community led recovery

The post disaster community context is characterised by widespread loss, damage, disruption and ongoing demands on people’s time and energy. The 10 years Beyond Bushfires 2020 report will be presented as an accessible summary of evidence about individual and community recovery experiences following the 2009 Black Saturday Victorian bushfires. High levels of resilience were evident but also profound impacts on mental health, emotional stability and social connectedness for many.

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Trish Curtis

Upper Murray Regional Neighbourhood House Network



Enabling communities - from the heart of the community

Neighbourhood houses have a unique and important role in their local communities. However, they are generally not recognised by emergency services and rarely included in emergency planning. At the same time, it is difficult for external services coming into a community during and after an emergency to connect effectively and support the community to lead their own recovery. The project aims to bridge this gap by mobilising existing local knowledge, capacity and relationships to support innovative, locally relevant recovery initiatives and to improve future disaster resilience.

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Cristel Chambers 

Australian Red Cross




Shanti Ramasundram

Australian Red Cross



Australian Red Cross South Australia Community-Led Emergency Resilience Project

Emergency planning in Australia has traditionally been focused on the roles, responsibilities and strategies of emergency management agencies, with little input from community organisations, groups, business, and community leaders and members themselves. Recognition of a 'shared approach' to emergency planning resulted in the 18 month, Red Cross Community-Led Emergency Resilience project, based in the South Australian townships of Kangarilla and Gumeracha. 

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Margaret Moreton 

Minderoo Foundation





Community leadership and emerging partnerships

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Beck Dawson

Chief Resilience Officer

Resilient Sydney


The Resilient Sydney story

The Resilient Sydney story showcases the role a regional local government approach can make to local resilience. The program has made significant progress. Initial feedback from survey results indicates very high levels of support for network bodies to research, network and facilitate action for community resilience and reducing large-scale community risks from shocks and stresses.

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Anne Crestani


Step by Step Recovery Support Service



Jo Davies

Community Development Worker

Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre



Vicki Edmunds

Community Development

Blue Mountains City Council



Andrew Kaye

Deputy Captain

Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service



Kris Newton


Mountains Community Resource Network



Esther Perry 

Community Recovery Team

Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network


Panel: Putting together the jigsaw puzzle: a case study on collaborative grass roots community-led and coordinated efforts driving recovery and resilience

Black Summer & the subsequent COVID pandemic were the second time in recent years that the Blue Mountains community has dealt with Recovery from a major disaster. Our community is suffering from complex community trauma since last summer; and, due to COVID restrictions, we have also faced huge challenges most-needed activities - connecting folk (with each other, and services and supports). This panel will present a case study from the Blue Mountains on how we have dealt with two major recovery efforts in a decade, and critical collaboration lessons we have learned in the process.

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Dr Amanda Howard

University of Sydney




Madeleine Dignam

Community Outreach Program Manager

Hawkesbury Nepean Flood Risk Management Directorate 


Social housing and flood risk in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. A place-based community engagement and action research approach

In many parts of Australia, some of the residential locations with highest flood risk are also areas with significant social and economic disadvantage. Research shows that vulnerable, disadvantaged communities are more susceptible to natural hazards and that communities with higher needs will face barriers in preparedness, evacuation and in recovery. This case study draws on the project to look at the convergence of natural disasters exposure and existing economic and social disadvantage. It will focus on the lessons learnt including key barriers, achievements to date and the community engagement and development principles used. 

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Dr Sandra Carrasco

University of Newcastle




A/Prof Temitope Egbelakin

University of Newcastle



Harnessing community networks responding to COVID-19 - The case of African migrants in Melbourne’s public housing

On the 4th of July, 2020, around 3,000 residents of inner Melbourne’s public housing towers were confined to their units in the hardest lockdown imposed in the city since the beginning of the pandemic. The experience caused significant stress in the affected residents, especially African migrant and refugees who were already in condition of vulnerability. However, it also promoted the rapid creation of support networks with multiple actors involved. This presentation aims to analyse the networks’ role within and beyond the community to deal with COVID19 response in Melbourne’s public housing estates.

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Amanda Nixon

Volunteering Queensland



The Rockhampton VOAD consortium: a mechanism to support collaboration, coordination and communication of volunteer organisations active in disasters

While local community groups provide important resources in disaster preparedness, response, and in long term recovery in devastated communities, often these resources are under-utilised in the Australian disaster management context. This is particularly evident in formal disaster management arrangements, resulting is missed opportunities and often miscommunication and confusion in the delivery of much needed resources. Volunteering Queensland has partnered with the Rockhampton Regional Council to explore a potential solution by establishing a coordinated network of volunteer involving organisations (VIOs). The Rockhampton Region Volunteer Organisations Assisting in Disasters builds on the VOAD model pioneered in the United States and utilised for over 50 years.

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Karen O'Connor

Missions Program Lead Fire and Flood Resilience

Minderoo Foundation


Lisa Harrison

CEO Insurance Product and Portfolio



Stuart Ellis AM




Alistair Dawson

Inspector-General Emergency Management, Queensland




Carlene York APM


NSW State Emergency Service



Jenny Brockie (moderator)




Closing Panel: Beyond impact and expectations

Shared with AFAC21, this facilitated closing panel discussion will include different perspectives on the key issues facing the emergency management sector and our communities. Panellists will share their thoughts about what can be practically done to make an impact on our goal of safer and more resilient communities.

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The Australian Disaster Resilience Conference is proudly supported Resilience NSW.