Mr Chris Austin, Director, CTS Consultants (QLD) Co-chair
With over 20 years of experience in corporate management and having built and managed his own business enterprises, Chris has developed a broad range of skills and experience. He has had extensive experience in management, sales, and marketing roles primarily within manufacturing and distribution organisations within the Building and Construction Industry.
In recent years, Chris has provided Management Consultancy services specialising in strategic planning, emergency and disaster management planning, investigations and inquiries and process improvement. He is a member of a number of Boards including Crime Stopper Queensland and the Veterans Review Board and is the Vice Chair of the Queensland Advisory Committee for the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary. Chris is a serving officer in the Army Reserve holding the rank of Colonel and is now posted as Deputy Commander of the 11th Brigade – Queensland’s Army Reserve brigade. Chris has represented the ADF on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief working groups and exercises throughout Asia over the past four years. He has operational service in East Timor, the Middle East and the Queensland Flood Recovery. Chris is an Honorary Aide de Camp to the Governor General of Australia.
Chris provides his experience as an Independent Company director specialising in SME’s in the private sector.
Ms Kate Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Police, Fines and Crime Prevention, Department of Justice and Community Safety Victoria. Conference Co-Chair
Kate Fitzgerald is the Executive Director Police, Fines and Crime Prevention in the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety. In this role Kate is responsible for working with Victoria Police and other key partners to lead major policies and projects on policing.
Kate has recently moved from Emergency Management Victoria where she was the Director Relief and Recovery. Kate was responsible for leading relief and recovery reform across the sector and operational coordination during major emergencies. Previously Kate worked for Emergency Management Australia and Prime Minister and Cabinet in emergency management, national security, crisis management and community safety.
Volunteering has been a critical part of Kate’s career over the last fifteen years including with the State Emergency Service, Rural Fire Service and Australian Red Cross, including operational deployments in the Blue Mountains and Canberra Bushfires, Queensland Floods, Cyclone Yasi and Hurricane Sandy.
Kate holds a Masters and Bachelor Degree in Emergency Management from Charles Sturt University, is an International Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii and currently studies Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT Melbourne.
Associate Professor Akhilesh Surjan, Theme Leader – Humanitarian Emergency & Disaster Management Studies, Charles Darwin University (NT)
Akhilesh Surjan is an Associate Professor / Research & Theme Leader of Humanitarian, Emergency and Disaster Management Studies at the Charles Darwin University. He has successfully engaged with issues of climate and disaster risk reduction and urban sustainability for about two decades.
Akhilesh has served as a Lead Author for the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has also served as Contributing Author for the UN’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction published in May 2011. He has successfully worked in the United Nations, academic, non-governmental and government institutions in Asia-Pacific region.
He lived in Japan for 10 years and worked with the United Nations University (Tokyo) and Kyoto University, where his contributions were directed towards postgraduate teaching and research, capacity building and productively collaborating and networking with multi-tiered stakeholders. He is also a trained architect-planner – an interest zone that keeps him enthused when free.
Mr Steve Jenkins, National President, Australian Institute of Emergency Services (AIES)
Steve Jenkins is the National President of The Australian Institute of Emergency Services (AIES) having formerly held the positions of President and Vice-President of the Queensland Division and is the Institute’s representative on the Australian Emergency Management Volunteers Forum facilitated by the Commonwealth Government’s Attorney-General’s Department. Steve is a volunteer fire-fighter with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (Megan Brigade). In September 2016, he was elected as a Councillor on the Bellingen Shire Council in New South Wales and is now Chair of the Dorrigo Saleyard Committee and the Council’s Councillor representative on the Mid North Coast Bush Fire Management Committee.
Steve recently retired from the Queensland Police Service (QPS) following a distinguished 34 year 5 month career. During his career he served in numerous locations throughout Queensland including: Brisbane and suburban areas; Ipswich; Townsville: Cairns; Cooktown; and Mt Isa where he spent a substantial period of time in remote areas, particularly around the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Indigenous communities of Doomadgee and Mornington Island. Steve experienced many facets of policing including: general duties; criminal investigations, he received appointment as a Detective; forensic crash investigations (advanced level); education and training; complaint investigations and disciplinary hearings; police communications centre operations and management; search and rescue mission coordination; project and program management (information and communications technology in particular); and extensive managerial experience which he gained as the officer-in-charge of varying sized stations and sections including a district police communications centre, 24-hour district headquarters station, and a 24-hour watchhouse. He also relieved at commissioned rank as a district inspector, district audit inspector, and regional professional practices manager.
Dr John Bates, Research Director, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC (VIC)
Dr Bates joined the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC as Research Director In 2017, where he Is responsible for managing the CRC’s research and utilisation program. Prior to joining the CRC, he was the founding Director of the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience.
Dr Bates has formal qualifications in health and life sciences from the University of Melbourne and has worked extensively in the development, translation and commercialisation of research in industry, and in the research sector. He has significant experience in the development and delivery of undergraduate and graduate education in Australia and overseas and has taught at universities in Australia and Asia.
John has worked in complex environments in areas including defence, public health, animal health, transport, higher education and food.
John is an active volunteer in the Victorian State Emergency Service and Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management.
Mr Cameron Anderson, Deputy Manager, Emergency Operations, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria Government (VIC)
Cameron Anderson is an Advanced Life Support paramedic and firefighter with extensive experience in disaster response and major incident management across Victoria and Queensland. Cameron’s professional interests include emergency response to remote and austere environments, and the management of mass-casualty incidents. His career has spanned fire and rescue, USAR and ambulance specialist operations, including responses to many of Australia’s most significant disasters including the 2009 Victorian bushfires and cyclones Debbie, Oswald and Yasi. Cameron holds a Master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Response and is a doctoral candidate with Edith Cowan University exploring the role and responsibility of paramedics in a public health crisis.
Ms Wendy Graham, Director Resilience & Recovery, NSW Office Of Emergency Management (NSW)
Wendy is the Director of Resilience and Recovery in the NSW Office of Emergency Management. She has provided leadership and whole-of-government coordination of recovery strategies for numerous disaster events over the last 13 years, including the Lindt Cafe Siege 2014, Northern Rivers Ex Cyclone Debbie flooding 2017 and Tathra and districts bushfire 2018.
Wendy has led the implementation of disaster resilience strategy in NSW including the establishment of the NSW Community Resilience Innovation Program (CRIP), the Get Ready NSW all-hazards preparedness initiative and the Community Resilience Networks pilot project.
Wendy is a Winston Churchill Fellow and has researched disaster resilience in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada and New Zealand. These learnings continue to inform Wendy’s practice and she brings an in-depth knowledge and passion to working with disaster affected communities.
Mr Collin Sivalingum, State Manager, Emergency Services, Red Cross (QLD)
Collin Sivalingum is a trained member of the International Federation of Red Cross – Field Assessment Coordinating Team, responsible for assessing response and recovery needs after a disaster. Collin has extensive management consultancy and project management experience and has worked in countries in Africa and parts of Europe. Much of his humanitarian work was in communities, where he experienced firsthand human suffering and highly displaced communities. Collin has worked in many disaster management roles and a Commander for Red Cross Emergency Operations. He is a Board Member for CASSI and currently the State Emergency Services Manager for Queensland Red Cross.