Looking back: almost two decades of natural hazard research | Natural Hazards Research Australia

Looking back: almost two decades of natural hazard research

Release date

30 June 2022

Today marks the final day of my tenure as CEO of Natural Hazards Research Australia before my retirement and I look back over the achievements of the various research centres with a degree of nostalgia and pride. As a sector we have come so far.

When I first started in the emergency management sector back in February 2004 as Research Director of the newly formed Bushfire CRC, I was greeted by whole new cohort of people dedicated to public service and keeping our communities safe. That has not changed over the past 18 and a half years – individuals have come and gone but the ethos and belief are still here no matter who is undertaking the role.

At the end of summer 2004, the country was coming off what were horrendous years for bushfires with various inquiries underway following the fires that burnt into Canberra, New South Wales and north-east Victoria. Little did we then know that things would only get much worse.

Since then, the various research centres – the Bushfire CRC, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and now Natural Hazards Research Australia – have provided new knowledge, systems and thought leadership to the sector.

It has been a great period and a little relentless at times but having now secured ongoing research for the sector from 2003-2031, it was well worth all the effort. This was not done alone of course. The sector is lucky to have had, and continue to have, many great people within the centres, agencies, departments and other research organisations, ensuring the right research has been done to result in tangible changes to the ways we protect communities. All of this has saved lives and helped the environment. To those people who are too numerous to mention, I wish to say thank you; you have truly made a difference, not just here in Australia, but worldwide.

In departing, I know that I am leaving the Centre in great hands. We have an engaged Board of Directors, a great management team, now to be led by Andrew Gissing, and a fantastic team spread over our three nodes. I now hand over the baton to all of you; this is your research centre.

If you are an end-user partner of the Centre, I implore you to get involved; drive the outcomes you need, don’t stand back and wait to see what will happen. If you are not currently engaged with the Centre, please reach out as there is always room for more involvement.

I am sure our paths will cross again – I do not currently have plans beyond taking a big breath, travelling and spending time with my family, but I am sure there are challenges remaining to be solved that may lure me back.