The Value of Engineering and Logistics Capabilities Collaborating in Support of Disaster Management

Highly skilled engineers and logisticians provide critical value to disaster recovery programs in Australia. As enabling professions to disaster management engineers and logisticians are often employed across projects, programs and organisations, yet their relationship is rarely examined.  The combination of their services and the impacts that both professions contribute is rarely acknowledged in driving effective recovery.

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference warmly thanks Mr Neil Greet, Executive Director, Collaborative Outcomes and co-author Dr Elizabeth  Barber, Senior Lecturer, UNSW, ADFA School of Business, for presenting at the previous conference in May 2013 at Mercure Brisbane.  Mr Greet delivered this paper which highlighted Australian frontline disaster management requiring an integrated engineering and logistics capability which provides enhanced supply chain management service delivery and improved community outcomes. The contributions to disaster management practices of both skill sets were examined.

The paper also investigated the existing potential reliance and integration of logistics and engineering capabilities in disaster management relief operations in Australia. The current application of engineering and logistics in disaster management delivers key contributions to community recovery, but is also afflicted by wasteful practices.  A survey was undertaken which focused on the response and recovery of recent disasters including the 2011 floods and cyclones in Queensland and the 2009 Black Saturday’ bush fires in Victoria. The questionnaire was undertaken in semi-structured interviews. Both States developed multi-agency recovery agencies which were reliant on engineering and logistic capability.  The implications of this study raise a series of challenges for disaster agencies and policy makers in government, and involved organisations. The need to develop an adaptive capacity based on the integration of these two crucial skill sets involved in disaster management in Australia will substantially improve outcomes. Engineering and logistics in disaster management needs to focus on humanitarian and social outcomes with trusted well practised collaboration.

There is a need to improve the preparedness levels in disaster prone areas in Australia by co-ordinating the engineering and logistical services more closely before events occur.

This and most other presentations from this conference are available via podcast by clicking here