Speaker ProfileS

Comm Shane Fitzsimmons
Commissioner, Resilience NSW

Shane has over 30 years experience with the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) serving as both a volunteer and salaried officer.

In 1998 he was appointed an Assistant Commissioner with the RFS and has held portfolio responsibilities for Operations, Strategic Development and Regional Management.

In 2004 he was appointed the inaugural Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) Visiting Fellow to the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM) for a 12 month period.

In September 2007 he was appointed Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) and also the Chair of the NSW RFS Bushfire Co-ordinating Committee and the Rural Fire Service Advisory Council.  

Following 12 years as Commissioner of NSW RFS, he recently accepted the new appointment of Commissioner, Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management, in the newly created agency, effective 1 May 2020.  

Clare Parker
Head of Communications, Forest Research, UK

Clare Parker has worked in public sector communications for nearly 20 years. Starting as a press officer at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, she specialised in crisis and CBRN policy communications. After a short posting to internal communications she took up the role of global media and information environment analyst. The role included analysing and assessing the evolving social media landscape of the Middle East and Asia and she presented to a number of NATO and allied nations training social and traditional media trends. In later roles Clare led training and development in media operations and strategic communications at the Defence (Joint) Media Operations Centre before establishing the Insight and Evaluation team in the Directorate of Defence Communications. She has worked across NATO nations sharing expertise and advising on social media, government communications and national media organisations and non-state actor use of the internet. 

Clare is currently Head of Communications at Forest Research, the GB-wide science agency of the Forestry Commission but she retains links into and active interest in UK and international strategic communications. 

Clare holds a MA in Mass Communications and MSc in Strategic Communications Leadership, and is currently researching a PhD on UK government communications evaluation. She is a Founding Chartered Practitioner of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. 

Hon. Lianne Dalziel 

Mayor of Christchurch, NZ


Hon Lianne Dalziel (LLB) is serving her third term as Mayor of Ōtautahi Christchurch after serving for 23 years in the New Zealand Parliament (1990-2013), the first two terms representing Christchurch Central and the last four and a half terms as MP for Christchurch East. Lianne served as a Cabinet Minister in the fifth Labour Government under the leadership of Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, holding a wide range of portfolios.

As a result of representing an electorate that was hard hit by the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and developing a strong understanding of post-disaster challenges and opportunities, Lianne has become a champion of disaster risk reduction and resilience. She is committed to the priorities for action to prevent new and to reduce existing disaster risks: to promote better understanding of the need to place communities at the heart of recovery planning, emphasising the need for honest and effective communication, and ensuring that any government support provided in a post disaster environment increases local capability to respond to and recover from future events.

Lianne believes that Christchurch’s experience of the 2010/2011 earthquake sequence and the terror attacks of March 15 2019 stand testament to the capacity of communities to instinctively come together and offer meaningful support in times of need. It is within these very human responses that we find the essence of resilience, not as a destination, but as a journey that highlights the capacity of communities to adapt to change and to co-create a new future when there is no going back to the way it used to be.

Alicia Smith
Apunipima Cape York Health Council

Alicia Smith has a passion for sharing community stories, she has worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Organisations for the last 10 years.

Dr Mel Taylor
Macquarie University & Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Dr Mel Taylor is an Occupational Psychologist in the Department of Psychology, Macquarie University. Her research focuses on human behaviour in the contexts of low probability, high consequence emergency events such as pandemics, terrorism, emergency animal diseases, and disasters.

Mel is a project leader in the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. She is currently working on two research projects; one in flood risk communication, and another on animal emergency management. 

Dr Suze Wilson
Massey University, NZ

Dr Suze Wilson is senior lecturer and leadership researcher at Massey University. Her research critically analyses leadership theory and practice, with a view to identifying how both can be improved. She teaches leadership, teamwork and range of other people related issues as part of Massey’s Executive MBA and MBA programmes. Suze also has an extensive practitioner background having held a number of senior leadership roles, such as GM HR at NZ Post, and Deputy Commissioner (People Capability) at the State Services Commission, as well as providing consultancy advice and executive coaching services to a diverse range of organisations and senior leaders.

David Newberry
Industry & Engagement Officer, Clarence Valley Council

David is a strategic communications and engagement professional with over 20 years experience with large, high profile public and private organisations. He specialises in marketing, communications, and local government sectors and has worked in five countries (Ireland, UK, Spain, Australia & USA). He brings a holistic marketing communications perspective, focused on defining objectives and developing a sound strategy to leverage the appropriate channels.

Andrea Peace
Bureau of Meteorology

Andrea joined the Bureau of Meteorology in 2006 as a Meteorologist, working in Queensland and Victoria. A champion of video in the Bureau for many years, I am honoured to now be leading the Bureau’s talented Video Production team. In this role I continue to combine my passion and knowledge of meteorology, with my ability to communicate weather, climate, observation and water information, that assists Australians make more informed weather and climate related decisions.

Jeremy Hillman
Manager Communications and Engagement, Resilience NSW

Jeremy hails from South Australia but has called Sydney home for the last six years, following a long stint in Canberra with the Federal Government.

Since 2017 he has worked for the NSW Office of Emergency Management, now Resilience NSW, and prior to that was with the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Jeremy has been involved in a number of disaster operations and deploys with recovery teams to help manage on the ground media, communications and community engagement. He spent six months in the field following the recent fires.

Jeremy is passionate about honest, meaningful engagement and in particular how we can better connect with and support disaster-impacted communities.

Sascha Rundle
Emergency Broadcasting, ABC

Sascha Rundle has headed up emergency broadcasting at the ABC for the last four years, overseeing the emergency broadcasting preparedness of ABC staff and stations around Australia. She’s been a producer and reporter, including on the ground coverage of the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi in 2011. Sascha has a unique perspective in her role and works closely with emergency services across the country to ensure the community is prepared for natural hazards.

Ellie van Baaren
Asia-Pacific correspondent, International Federation of Red Cross

~coming soon~

Lauren O’Connor
Risk Communication, Health Emergencies Program, World Health Organization

Lauren O’Connor is a risk communication professional passionate about supporting countries to communicate more effectively with at-risk and affected communities during outbreaks and emergencies. Serving the World Health Organization since 2010, her skills have been honed in response to a wide range of emergencies including conflict in Yemen, food insecurity in Ethiopia, catastrophic flash flooding in Lao PDR, and polio outbreaks across the globe. She is currently responsible for WHO’s strategic communications response to COVID-19 in the Western Pacific Region.


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  • 2 June 2021EMPA Australia Conference

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