Wednesday, 24 August 2022

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Adelaide, and to the AFAC 2022 Conference.

I extend an especially warm welcome to the three quarters of attendees who have travelled from interstate and overseas, including North America, Europe, Asia and, closer to home, New Zealand.

Jumping on a plane is still not as easy as it once was and I trust you will all enjoy your time in South Australia.

This year’s conference theme is “Connecting communities. Creating resilience”, aimed at building strength and support within the emergency services community.

There is no question that emergency workers are being called to show resilience in the face of growing challenges.

As we have seen in recent years, disasters such as bushfires and floods are increasing in number and severity across Australia, as indeed they are around the globe.

Everyone here will have been impacted by these changing circumstances, either directly or indirectly and you know the way you work together – the way you connect – will have a bearing, sometimes a crucial bearing, on your ability to respond in future.

In promotional video for this conference, your president shared the challenges facing your sector: an increasingly volatile climate, growing community expectations, and responses to reviews, inquiries and recommendations.

This is a considerable load to bear and on behalf of the communities you serve I extend my thanks and admiration to you all, for the dedication, sacrifice and team work you demonstrate in crisis situations and for the way you communicate with the public.

Earlier this month I presented the National Emergency Medal to several deserving recipients here in South Australia for their service during 2019 Adelaide Hills and 2020 Kangaroo Island bushfires.

I have been heartened to hear first-hand from locals the gratitude they feel towards emergency workers who responded to these crises.

I sense, too, that those communities draw some of their own resilience from yours.  Afterall, you are part of those communities too.

AFAC22 provides an opportunity to step out of your day-to-day role and routine, to re-energise by meeting new people and to gain inspiration from new ideas and possibilities.

I trust that the next few days will support you to learn about the latest research, share your experiences with your peers, and provide an overall boost to enthusiasm and morale.

To be effective under challenging circumstances, it is imperative that you look after yourselves and look out for your colleagues.

I’m pleased to see an outstanding line up of keynote speakers, from within your profession as well as the broader community, to offer their thoughts and ideas with you.  Those I know personally are absolutely inspirational.

I thank all presenters, organisers and sponsors of AFAC22, as well as the concurrent Australian Disaster Resilience Conference and the Institution of Fire Engineers Australia Conference.

I am now pleased to officially declare AFAC22 open.