Professional Development Program


The AFAC17 powered by INTERSCHUTZ Professional Development Program will give you the chance to embark on engaging field trips and enlightening workshops led by industry professionals. These sessions provide you with the opportunity to get hands-on experiences and interact with peers sharing common interests.

If you are participating in the professional development program, you may also like to consider attending the Bushfire Building Conference and Exhibition in the Blue Mountains 8-9 September.

1. Hawkesbury-Nepean
Field Trip

The Hawkesbury Nepean valley is situated on the edge of the Sydney metropolitan area. The residents and businesses of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley face unique risks in terms of economic or social damage and loss of life in the event of a flood. The Insurance Council of Australia identifies that this Valley has the highest flood risk in New South Wales. The bathtub-like topography of the Valley increases the potential depth and speed of flooding relative to other floodplains. This puts some population centres at risk of becoming ‘flood islands’ without any access to evacuation routes, and potentially being completely inundated in large floods. In 2016 the NSW Government announced the Hawkesbury Nepean flood strategy to address the complex flooding issues faced in the valley.

On this field trip, participants will tour the Warragamba Dam and the populated areas that can be flooded. Ranging from rural to peri-urban to urban areas, this field trip will provide opportunities to appreciate the scale of and complexity of the flood problem. Participants will gain an understanding of the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery strategies for this complex river system.

8:30am – 5:00pm

2. Blue Mountains
Field Trip

The Blue Mountains is a unique heritage area and also one of the most bush fire prone areas in the world. The population across the district is 75,000 people who live in, or in the vicinity of 27 towns and villages across 143,000 hectares of land in the mountains. About 70 percent of the area is incorporated into the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Parks, with about 11 percent of the total land area in private ownership.

In October 2013, the Blue Mountains was impacted by the most devastating bush fires NSW has experienced in more than a decade. In one day, more than 200 homes were destroyed, with multiple fires burning across the Mountains. Despite the significant loss of property no lives were lost.

This field trip and aerial tour of the Blue Mountains will provide an appreciation of the risks and complex challenges faced by combat agencies and the community. Participants will gain an appreciation of the complexities involved in managing bush fires in one of the most bush fire prone areas in the World. The field trip is designed to be a practical and hands on experience targeting the areas of response, re-build and innovation.

9:00am – 3:30pm

3. Rozelle Building Fire and Explosion 
Field trip

Participants will learn about the Rozelle building fire and explosion event, where Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) worked closely with NSW Police. The explosion and subsequent fire killed three people and destroyed a two-storey retail/residential premises. The incident attracted widespread state and national media and public attention. Additionally, participants will then travel to Ingleburn in Sydney’s south west to tour the FRNSW Urban Search and Rescue facility.

9:00am – 3:30pm

4. Learning from Incidents 

Preventable human error is cited as the third leading cause of death in medicine. In other high-risk industries “human” or “pilot error” has been named as a primary cause of accidents and fatalities. But error is a common to all human actions. We are all human and we all err. Dr Ivan Pupulidy has spent the last 10 years exploring another way to look at error. This research has resulted in a new way for organizations to respond to accidents and incidents, called the Learning Review.

In this workshop, Dr Pupulidy will team with Roger Strickland, and together they will introduce the principles of the learning review, asking participants to consider the system and the conditions that surround human actions. This path allows us to use error as the starting point for an investigation and places learning ahead of blame.

9:00am – 3:30pm

5. EMSINA Presents – Geospatial Intelligence, proudly supported by Fujitsu


Geospatial Intelligence is a field of knowledge, a process, and a profession. As knowledge, it is information integrated in a coherent space-time context that supports descriptions, explanations, or forecasts of human activities with which decision makers take action. As a process, it is the means by which data and information are collected, manipulated, geospatially reasoned, and disseminated to decision-makers. The geospatial intelligence profession establishes the scope of activities, interdisciplinary associations, competencies, and standards in academic, government, and the private sectors.

This workshop is focused at all levels of emergency management to gain stronger understanding of the concepts and technologies as applied to ‘emergency management Geospatial intelligence’.

9:00am – 3:00pm

6. Safety Symposium – Proudly supported by Emergency Services Health



The Safety Symposium is a gathering place for members of the global fire and emergency community to focus on safety. To discuss significant events and trends in safety, to promote best practices in safety training, equipment and operations, to reveal safety related research findings, and to explore new approaches to safety.

In a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, time pressured and ambiguous for emergency managers, the forum is themed on decision making in high risk and high consequence environments.

9:00am – 4:00pm

7. Introduction to Disaster Resilience Education for Schools, incorporating the National DRANZSEN Forum


The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) will host a development session to introduce Disaster Resilience Education for Schools. This event will include presentations and discussions about current research and activities for disaster resilience education for young people, and identify where gaps exist. AIDR will host their annual National DRANZSEN Forum in association with this event, allowing participants to gain a greater understanding of the work currently underway in their jurisdiction.

9:30am – 4:00pm

8. Utilisation best practice prescribed burning tools developed by the National Burning Project

The intention of this professional development session is to facilitate greater understanding of and uptake of National Burning Project (NBP) products, frameworks, principles and best practice guidelines within fire and land management organisations.

The session will include a combination of interactive group sessions and presentation sessions. The presentations will provide an overview of the NBP as well as present case studies of organisations that have used NBP products. The interactive sessions will feature group work based on applying the NBP products to real-life prescribed burning scenarios for phases of prescribed burning including strategic planning, program planning (developing a program of burns), operational planning (developing a burn plan) and burn implementation.

9:00am – 3:30pm

9. Igniting collaboration for bushfire management

This facilitated workshop will apply collaboration theory to bush fire management planning and preparation and challenge participants to put collaboration into practise in their role. Participants will consider opportunities for collaboration to improve bushfire management planning, preparation and response.

The workshop will run in three parts:
1. A scenario exercise where participants will share the processes and relationships that are critical to bushfire management planning and preparation for them, and their current understanding of collaboration
2. Collaboration theory, covering the what, when and why of collaboration, exploring the link between complexity and collaboration, and working through the Twyfords Power of Co pathway. The session will touch on culture and mindset and have participants think about barriers and possibilities in their workplaces
3. Applying collaboration. Participants will put their collaborative knowledge and mindset into operational practise and reflect on the impact of collaboration on outcomes.

Participants will be challenged to share one action they will implement to integrate collaborative practice into their bushfire management planning and preparation and will leave better equipped to apply collaboration to their work.

9:00am – 12:30pm

10. Strategic risk ownership and implementation

This workshop will walk participants through the risk ownership framework for emergency management policy and practice, which has been developed as part of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Program, to support implementation of risk ownership of natural hazard risks for strategic decision making. It uses a values-based approach to assessment that is designed to build consensus and increase the understanding of natural hazard risk in the broader community. The aim is to build a distributed and shared ownership of strategic risk actions that includes the emergency management sector, the community, business and industry and all levels of government.

The framework has been aligned to current risk assessment processes, in particular the NERAG, to support usability and integration of strategic risk ownership tasks into operational activities.

This professional development training workshop will cover the following:
• The process components needed for risk ownership
• How these components can be applied and integrated into different risk assessment frameworks and what tools are useful to support this
• The key concepts needed to exercise risk ownership effectively including strategic decision making and implementation
• Case study examples

9:30am – 3:00pm