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Featured Speakers 2019

Mr Rob Gordon, Psychologist

Rob Gordon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who has worked in disasters since the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. He has been psychological consultant to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services for Emergency Recovery since 1989 and consulted to Australian Red Cross emergency services for 10 years. He works with government and non-government agencies in health, welfare, justice, environment and education for fire, flood, earthquake, storm, cyclone and drought as well as mass shootings and terrorist events throughout Australia and New Zealand. He conducts a private psychotherapy practice in Box Hill, Victoria and is the President of the Australian Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies.

Dr Michael Eburn, Associate Professor, ANU College of Law

Dr Michael Eburn is a barrister and Associate Professor at the ANU College of Law, Canberra. An expert in the law of emergency management Michael is best known for his popular blog – Australian Emergency Law (https://emergencylaw.wordpress.com/).  He is an associate of the Disaster and Development Network, Northumbria University (UK) and the Joint Centre for Disaster Research (NZ). He is a chief investigator on a BNHCRC funded project looking at preparation for catastrophic disasters.  Michael has served with St John Ambulance (NSW), NSW Ambulance and the NSW State Emergency Service. He is a member of the board of Paramedics Australasia.

Other Confirmed Featured Speakers

Mr Jason Collins, Director, Chief Officer, Northern Territory Police, Fire & Emergency
Ms Anne Leadbeater, Director, Leadbeater Group
Commissioner Andrew Crisp, Emergency Management Victoria

Invited Featured Speakers

Ms Loretta Heiber Girardet, Regional Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)

Conference Committee would like to thank the 2018 Featured Speakers

Dr Jeannette Young, Chief Health Officer and Deputy Director-General Prevention Division, Department of Health, Queensland Government

Dr Young has been the Queensland Chief Health Officer since 2005. Previously she worked in a range of positions in Queensland and Sydney. She has specialist qualifications as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators and as a Fellow by Distinction of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom.

Her role as Chief Health Officer and Deputy Director-General includes responsibility for health disaster planning and response; aero-medical retrieval services; licensing of private hospitals; and policy regarding organ and tissue donation; blood, poisons and medicines; cancer screening; communicable diseases; environmental health; preventive health; and medical workforce planning and leadership.

Mr John Yates, Director of Security, Scentre Group & Westfield Corporation

John joined Westfield in November 2013 in a newly created role as Director of Security for Scentre Group in Australia and New Zealand & Westfield Corporation in the United Kingdom, United States and the emerging markets. He also has responsibility for the corporate security requirements of the Lowy family and their private assets.

John retired from the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) in November 2011 after a 30 year career.  He held a number of the most senior positions in UK policing. His last role was as the UK’s most senior counter terrorism officer and as the senior advisor the Prime Minister and Home Secretary on all law enforcement related security matters.

Previous roles included leading the fight against serious and organised crime in London. He also led the UK’s response to the South East Asian Tsunami for which he was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal.

In between leaving policing and joining Westfield John spent time in the Middle East advising the government of Bahrain on police reform before joining G3, the Good Governance Group, a leading international strategic advisory firm, as their Group Executive Director.

John is based in Sydney.

Dr John Bates, Research Director, Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC

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.

Deputy Commissioner Mike Wassing, Deputy Commissioner, Chief Officer Rural Fire Service, Chief Officer State Emergency Service, Emergency Management, Volunteerism and Community Resilience Division

As Deputy Commissioner for the Emergency Management, Volunteerism and Community Resilience (EMVCR) Division within Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), Mike is committed to enhancing volunteerism, strengthening QFES capabilities and promoting an inclusive and supportive culture that enriches our ability to support our local communities.

He is responsible for the accountabilities for the State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS), Community Resilience and Risk Mitigation, and Volunteer Capability and Coordination within the Department, including support to approximately 42,000 volunteers.

With a shared vision for the cornerstone role volunteers from all organisations play in creating healthy, safe and resilient communities, Mike is leading the development of the QFES Volunteerism Strategy which is premised on the crucial partnerships with volunteer services, not-for-profit organisations, business and the Whole of Government.

With several years serving as a volunteer in Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria and over 25 years’ in fire and emergency management, Mike has extensive experience leading the management and coordination of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for all hazards as well as strategic control and coordination for major emergencies.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Management and Land Use Policy, a Diploma in Firefighting Operations and Fire Management, and a Graduate Diploma of Business (Strategic Management) was awarded the National Emergency Medal for the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria and was a recent participant in the Executive Fellowship Program of ANZSOG 2017.

Major General Gregory Bilton, AM, CSC, Deputy Chief of Joint Operations, Department of Defence – Army

Major General Greg Bilton was born in Melbourne, Australia. After completing his secondary education at Melbourne High School he entered the Royal Military College in 1983 and graduated to the Royal Australian Artillery Regiment in 1986. He completed regimental appointments as a Lieutenant and Captain in the 1st and 4th Field Regiments, the 8th/12th Medium Regiment and the School of Artillery.

Major General Bilton has held command appointments as Battery Commander 104th Field Battery, Commanding Officer 4th Field Regiment, Commander 7th Brigade and Deputy Commanding General United States Army Pacific.

He served in staff appointments in the Directorate of Officer Career Management, the Directorate of Force Structure (Army) and as Director General Development and Plans (Army). He has also been an instructor at the Australian Command and Staff College.

Major General Bilton deployed on Operation MAZURKA in 1993 on the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) Headquarters. In 2008 he deployed on Operation SLIPPER as Deputy Chief of Staff for Security Sector Reform on Headquarters Regional Command South, Afghanistan.

Major General Bilton is a graduate of the Long Gunnery Course at the UK School of Artillery, the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies, Weston Creek.

He also holds a Bachelor degree in Military Studies and Master’s degrees in Military Art and Science, and Strategic Studies. He is also a recipient of prestigious academic honours; the Major General Hans Schlup (US) award for excellence in International Relations and the Blamey Award (Australia) for Leadership.

Major General Bilton has been awarded the Force Commanders Commendation for his work on Operation MAZURKA in the Sinai, a Conspicuous Service Cross for his force structure work at Army Headquarters, the Canadian Meritorious Service Medal for his work in Afghanistan, the United States Legion of Merit and the Japanese Defence Cooperation Medal for his work at United States Army Pacific.

He was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in 2014 in recognition of his work as Director General Development and Plans at Army Headquarters and as Commander 7 Brigade.

Major General Bilton is married to Rachael, who is a registered nurse. His eldest son Alex is a second year Officer Cadet at ADFA and his youngest son Nic is completing year 12.


Nev Hyman is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, having established two of the best known and most successful surfboard brands in the world, Nev Future Shapes and Firewire Surfboards. He has since turned his focus to two of the most complex problems of our time: fixing the global plastic problem and providing shelter for the millions of people who need it. Nev is the Founder and Chairman of NevHouse, a philanthrocapitalist company on a mission to provide game-changing solutions in resource recovery, modular housing and closed-loop community development, recently topping a list of 25,000 companies to win the global Pitch@Palace entrepreneur of the year award in 2017.

Plenary Panel - Different Perspectives on Disaster Plenary Panel

Dr Erin Smith is a Course Coordinator and Senior Lecturer at the School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University. Erin is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine, where she also holds the positions of Deputy Chair of the Oceania Chapter and Co-Convenor of the Psychosocial Special Interest Group. Erin is a Committee Member of the Victorian Chapter of Paramedics Australasia and a Research Committee Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Paramedicine. Erin is an expert in the long-term impact of 9/11 on the first responders and their families.

Marian Fontana has been a writer and performer for over twenty-five years. As a writer, her articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Salon.com, The Guardian and more. Her memoir, A Widows Walk was published by Simon and Schuster and was as the Top Ten Great Reads of 2005 by People magazine and the Washington Post’s Book Raves of 2005. A Widows Walk was on the New York Times best selling biography list and was nominated for a Books for A Better Life Award. Marian lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn in the United States.

Gill Hicks is considered to be one of the most thought provoking, powerful and life affirming speakers in Australia and the UK. She is globally known as a survivor of the London terrorist Bombings on July 7th, 2005.

She survived, but suffered severe and permanent injuries, losing both legs from just below the knee.

Originally from Adelaide, Australia, Gill has lived in London since 1991, however in 2012 Gill returned to Australia where she operates nationally and internationally through her not for profit M.A.D. for Peace network and her Public Speaking work. Her unique and compelling projects and initiative’s, aimed at both deterring anyone from following the path of violent extremism and building sustainable models for peace, draw upon Gill’s previous roles within the Arts. Following the bombings, Gill decided to dedicate her life to being an advocate for peace.

Cameron Anderson is a Paramedic (Advanced Care) Senior Station Officer with Queensland Ambulance Service specialising in disaster and major incident management. He is currently Officer in Charge of a busy urban ambulance station with a staff establishment of 50 paramedics. Cameron has 15 years experience across paramedicine, urban search and rescue and rural and urban firefighting. He has attended many of the most significant disasters to impact Australia in recent years, including the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, Cyclone Yasi and Cyclone Oswald. He was awarded the National Emergency Medal for his role in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Cameron is currently completing a PhD in disaster response at Edith Cowan University.