2019 EMPA Australia award winners

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The Annual EMPA Awards for Excellence in Emergency Communication have been established to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to emergency communications in Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian EMPA Awards for Excellence in Emergency Communications for 2019 were presented at the EMPA Conference Dinner in Sydney on Tuesday, 4 June 2019.

Here are the winners, as well as highly commended entries, in each category:

Excellence in Resilience and Readiness

Winner - State Emergency Management Committee, WA

Recovery Communications Project – the development of a set of Communicating in Recovery Guidelines, distributed to various local governments across WA in order to assist in keeping communities informed, empowered and assured during recovery from emergencies.

Anni Fordham from DFES with Anne LeadbeaterAnni Fordham from DFES with Anne Leadbeater

Highly Commended – South Australia SES

132 500 Campaign - A widely successful campaign run in order to increase awareness of when to call the SES (132 500) instead of triple zero.

John Carr from SA SES with Anne LeadbeaterJohn Carr from SA SES with Anne Leadbeater

Excellence in Response and Recovery

Winner – Bureau of Meteorology

Townsville Floods: 2019 – innovative new messaging approaches with a mixture of content types, while still retaining consistency of message and a constant flow of information in the aftermath of devastating Townsville floods. The communication strategy was not simply to warn people when danger was imminent but alert them to impending risks with enough time to make informed decisions.

Daniel Barty, BOM, Ravenna Carroll-Kenney, BOM, Anne Leadbeater and Rob Clancy, BOMDaniel Barty, BOM, Ravenna Carroll-Kenney, BOM, Anne Leadbeater, and Rob Clancy, BOM

Highly Commended – Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Media Team

QFES Media - Communicating during the North Queensland Monsoon 2019 - after the recent flood event affecting Townsville and north Queensland, QFES Media managed various communication channels to inform and reassure the community, also coordinating the sharing of information between agencies with extra emphasis given to social media when other communication outlets failed.

Chantell Rule-Murphy, QFES, Anne Leadbeater, and Hayley Gillespie, QFESChantell Rule-Murphy, QFES, Anne Leadbeater, and Hayley Gillespie, QFES

Excellence in Emergency Media

Winner – ABC Radio Melbourne

ABC Radio Melbourne Black Saturday 10 Years On – On Wednesday 6th February 2019 ABC Radio Melbourne marked the 2009 fires’ anniversary with a day of broadcasts from around Victoria. This was done in remembrance of everything lost, in recognition of rebuilding and recovery, in support of local communities, and to educate people on potential dangers.

Sascha Rundle, ABC Manager of Emergency Broadcasting, with Anne LeadbeaterSascha Rundle, ABC Manager of Emergency Broadcasting, with Anne Leadbeater

Highly Commended – ABC Regional QLD, led by Adam Stephen and Kallee Buchanan

Queensland's Unprecedented Bushfires - During November 2018 and the largest firefighting operation in Queensland history, ABC Regional provided a 3 hour dedicated and localised broadcast for the Bundaberg, Rockhampton, and Mackay regions, presented and produced by Adam Stephen and Kallee Buchanan, with contributions from reporters in the field. The calm, measured, and informative program from presenters that know their community worked to help keep them safe as well as provided reassurance at a deeply distressing time.

Sascha Rundle, ABC Manager of Emergency Broadcasting, with Anne LeadbeaterSascha Rundle, ABC Manager of Emergency Broadcasting, with Anne Leadbeater

Excellence in Research

Winner – Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC

Community preparedness, warnings & response to the 2017 NSW bushfires – Commissioned by NSW RFS over the 2017 fire season, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, led by Dr Josh Whittaker from the University of Wollongong, conducted research into community preparedness and responses by affected communities that lead to new processes being put in place to better liaise with communities during major events.

Dr Josh Whittaker, University of Wollongong, and Anne LeadbeaterDr Josh Whittaker, University of Wollongong, and Anne Leadbeater

Highly Commended – Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC & Queensland University of Technology

Conflicting cues with emergency warnings – Conflicting information, such as when a flood evacuation warning has been issued but the weather conditions in the immediate area appears sunny and fine, can cause uncertainty about the right action for people to take. While emergency services have suspected that these conflicting cues exist, this research, carried out in 2018 and led by Dr Paula Dootson at the Queensland University of Technology, is the first research to offer empirical evidence of the impact of conflicting cues and how they influence public behaviour in Australia.

Dr Paula Dootson, QUT, with Anne LeadbeaterDr Paula Dootson, QUT, with Anne Leadbeater

Judges Award

Awarded to entires that may not fit a particular category but hold the judges' attention and regard.

Winner - Science in residence team - Liam Mannix, Josh Whittaker, Katharine Haynes

Scientist in Residence - The Agethe result of a collaboration between Liam Mannix, science journalist with The Age, and bushfire scientists Josh Whittaker and Katharine Haynes, this article ran on the 10 year anniversary of Black Saturday and highlighted the problems we face because people do not heed emergency warnings. Hard-hitting and powerful, with expert information and scientific evidence, it tells a complex but important story in a way that you do not see often in the media.

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Liam Mannix from The Age, delighted by his award.