Recently at the Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference held at the Mercure Hotel, Brisbane from the 28th to the 30th of May 2013, Dr Valerie Ingham (Lecturer in Emergency Management, Charles Sturt University) discussed how over the past 10 years there has been an increase in the scrutiny of emergency managers and the decisions they have made during emergency events. Major Government initiated enquiries are now a common occurrence after emergency events and, in a number of cases, these have resulted in senior emergency managers being stood down or losing their jobs.
Within Australia there is now an increased expectation from the public as well as our political leaders that emergency managers have the required skills, knowledge, expertise and qualifications to effectively and efficiently manage disaster events of an increasingly complex nature. The bushfire events in the ACT (2003), Victoria (2009) and Western Australia (2011), as well as the flood event in Queensland (2011), are examples of complex disasters that have had dire consequences for not only the communities impacted, but also for some of the emergency managers tasked with coordinating the response to these disasters.
With this increased expectation and requirement placed upon emergency managers, more and more are today seeking out professional qualifications in the field of emergency management. Tertiary level courses in disciplines such as geoscience, town planning, architecture and environmental science, are increasingly incorporating an emphasis on natural hazards in relation to disaster planning. Within the social sciences the current tendency is to discuss disasters in terms of vulnerability and resilience, and from the psychosocial perspective of trauma. There are a relatively small number of programs specifically targeting existing and potential emergency managers.