Working together for a safer world

Dec 2015 | No Comment

Report on the 2nd international symposium on disaster management, October 12-14, 2015 – Melbourne

The 2nd International Symposium on Disaster Management was an invite-only event held over 3 days at the University of Melbourne which attracted over 130 attendees from across Australia, and internationally from 14 countries. The theme of the event was ‘Working Together for a Better World’ and key sessions of the event were dedicated to discussions on: Global Disaster Management, Mission Critical Communications, Disaster Management Platforms and Technology, Emergency Management, Trends and Issues in Disaster Management, Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction, and Community Resilience. The event was chaired by CDMPS Director, Prof. Abbas Rajabifard, and was supported by several national and international partners including The University of Melbourne, Carlton Connect, GSDI, IBM Research Australia, Emergency Management Victoria, UNGGIM, FIG, CSDILA, APCO International, Victorian Spatial Council, BNHCRC and Coordinates Magazine as a media partner.

Symposium aim and objectives

The aim of the Symposium was to present and discuss the latest innovations, research and practice related to disaster management, and establish connections for future research and collaboration.

Five key objectives were identified for the event:

• To present the latest innovation, research and practice

• To exchange ideas

• To establish and extend partnerships

• To develop a future research agenda

• To contribute to knowledge

Quick statistics of ISDM 2015

• Over 130 attendees

• Attendees from 14 countries

• 63 presenters

• 13 key topics

• 4 workshops

Highlights of the event

The Minister for Emergency Services, the Honourable Jane Garrett officially opened the symposium on Tuesday 13th October. The Minister gave a talk which emphasised the importance of organisational collaboration and community engagement and resilience in the context of disaster management.

The ISDM event coincided with the International day for Disaster Risk Reduction which is held on October 13 each year. The day celebrates how people and communities are reducing their exposure to disasters, and aims to also raise awareness about the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). To mark the occasion, presentations at ISDM on this day focused on community resilience and disaster risk reduction activities and research.

At the symposium the Emergency Management Commissioner of Victoria Craig Lapsley officially launched the new document ‘A Modern Emergency Management System for Victoria’ during his keynote talk within the plenary session on emergency management. Commissioner Lapsley first spoke on the vision for emergency management in Victoria, Australia, and the challenges faced in disaster situations which require the community to survive, adapt and grow, before launching the strategy. The strategy outlines what community resilience is and how this understanding can be used to develop a resilience-based approach to emergency management in the context of Victoria today.

The ISDM event attracted delegated from 14 countries worldwide, and from a large range of organisations and sectors across Australia including representation from a range of sectors including local, state and federal government, industry, and academia. Notably, at Federal level in attendance was a representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and a representative from the Department of Communications. At the Victorian level, attendees included representatives from: the office of the Productivity Commissioner, Emergency Management Victoria (including the Emergency Management Commissioner), the Department of Justice (including the Inspector General of Emergency Management), and the Country Fire Authority (including the CFA Chief Officer).


The discussions throughout the event, including panel discussions and workshops, yielded a broad range of ideas and focus areas to concentrate on for future research and collaborative activities. By bringing together a range of experts from countries around the world with different perspectives and experience, the opportunity for researchers, industry members and government representatives to work closely together to maximise return was presented, and the event acted as a platform for new connections and ongoing relationships to be established. These actions strengthened and mirrored the theme of the event – working together for a safer world.

The event has also emphasized the commitment of the University to addressing disaster management issues and achieving a resilient society in line with the grand challenges, and additionally has highlighted the importance of engagement between government, industry and academia, and the community – at a local, national and international level.

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