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  • Exploring Insights from the Emergency Management Public Affairs (EMPA) Conference: A Conversation with KirstenPhillips and NarelleJones

Exploring Insights from the Emergency Management Public Affairs (EMPA) Conference: A Conversation with KirstenPhillips and NarelleJones

Gathering insights from the recently concluded Emergency Management Public Affairs (EMPA) Conference, Kirsten Phillips and Narelle Jones shed light on how the conference enhanced their capacity as members of the National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT). The event’s focus on public information delivery within disaster and incident management provides valuable lessons and connections that prove instrumental in their roles.

The EMPA Conference offers a platform to engage with professionals across various sectors, enriching the knowledge and capabilities of attendees, particularly in crisis situations such as biosecurity emergencies. Kirsten Phillips, a long-term member and a Public Information mentor of the National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT), highlights the significance of the conference as a means of expanding her skill set and improving the team’s overall response capacity.

“The EMPA conference gives me a chance to connect with public information professionals from a broad spectrum of organisations who have experience in incidents ranging from natural disasters to cyber-security to terrorism to major events. Learning from the lived experience of others is extremely valuable. The conference also gives me the opportunity to hear about the latest trends and research in communications around preparedness, response, resilience, and recovery.”, says Phillips. The event provided her with an opportunity to delve into real-life scenarios and gain insights from those who have navigated the complexities of various emergencies.

The Professional Development (PD) opportunities that the NBRT offers have a direct impact on Phillips’ capabilities within her Business as Usual (BAU) operations. “The opportunity to attend this event has provided me with the basis to progress a number of projects within Queensland (BQ) that will have benefits to Queensland but also potentially the wider public information cohort,” says Phillips.

One of the conference’s key features was its focus on the latest trends and research in communication strategies concerning preparedness, response, resilience, and recovery. As a newcomer to the National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT), Narelle Jones from the Public information function discovered immense value in participating in the recent Emergency Management Public Affairs (EMPA) Conference. “We had the opportunity to hear from international disaster communication experts, researchers, and professionals from a range of communication roles.

As a new recruit to the NBRT, it was extremely valuable to hear from and have conversations with such a wide range of people within the communications space. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone in the public information cohort in the future.”, says Jones.

Amid the array of lessons, she absorbed during the event, two concepts particularly stood out the most. The importance of inclusivity and accessibility in messaging, not only for those who may be illiterate, but also for people with a disability or that have English as their second language. “This was a topic covered by multiple speakers across the two days and it was a great opportunity to reflect on the way we currently do things and how we can improve our messaging to support those most at risk in our community,” Jones explained.

The second key takeaway was around community-centric conversations. Jones says, “The idea that we don’t get to set the agenda. We need to be having the conversations that the community want/need to have. To build trust, it’s so important to listen to and acknowledge people’s lived experiences rather than just telling them all the great things we are doing for them.” With a strong focus on fostering connections, sharing experiences, and staying abreast of communication trends, the conference equips attendees like Kirsten Phillips and Narelle Jones with the tools needed to excel in their roles, contributing to more effective responses and recoveries during critical incidents.