Rob Cameron portraitIt’s an exciting and professionally challenging time to be appointed as the Director-General of Emergency Management Australia (EMA); Australia’s national disaster management organisation. EMA has undergone significant change in the past year following significant changes to the machinery of the Australian Government. It’s appropriate to acknowledge that at the start of a new year and in the first edition of the journal for 2019.

As Director-General, one of my jobs is to ensure we get as much leverage as we can from the other public safety capabilities that make up the still relatively new Home Affairs portfolio to ensure Australian communities are as safe and secure as they can be. That’s why we’re here. More generally, EMA’s enduring strategic intent continues: working to ensure that Australian communities are afforded the best service, support and guidance in preparing for, responding to and recovering from, all sources of risk and threat. We continue to do this by working side-by-side with state and territory emergency management and emergency services agencies, non-government partners and, of course, our own Australian Government agency colleagues.

My predecessor, Mark Crosweller, worked throughout 2018 with a wide range of government, private sector and non-government stakeholders to develop a National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework. This seminal piece of work positions the country to reduce disaster risk more proactively; enables better coordinated risk reduction actions across government, industry and the community and assists decision makers understand the likely future and what that means for decisions made now. This includes decisions about where and how Australians live and the infrastructure and services on which they rely. It’s a big piece of strategic work. We will be working through the course of this year to adopt the framework so that government and industry efforts in emergency and disaster risk management are underpinned by a nationally agreed direction.

This edition of the journal showcases the 2018 Resilient Australia Awards. The national ceremony was held in Brisbane last November and awards were presented by the Australian Government Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC. The national awards are the culmination of individual state and territory awards and they reflect a growing body of achievement, knowledge and activity.

For those who learn most effectively by observing others doing things well, the awards provide practical tutorials in best practice. You can read more about the 2018 Awards in this edition. It is very clear that the winners of the National Award and the National School Award both show how different elements of communities working together can strengthen disaster resilience at the local level. The National Photography Award captures the impact on the environment a fire can have, as well as the endeavour and dedication displayed by first responders. It’s a very powerful image.

Since 2000, the awards have showcased creativity and best practice across Australia and they rightly celebrate accomplishments that serve as exemplars from which we all can learn. The Australian Government, through EMA, is proud to sponsor the Resilient Australia Awards in partnership with the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and the states and territories. We all hope the ongoing prominence of the awards inspires effort to build greater disaster resilience at the community level.

Robert Cameron OAM
Emergency Management Australia