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06 November 2014

With cyclone season underway and the G20 Leaders Summit on in Brisbane next week Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has joined forces with Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Emergency & Disaster Management (CEDM) to expand the development of capabilities for disaster management.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed today and its main focus is to bring a new level of professionalism to emergency management, by combining the future challenges of a state-wide emergency management agency with the full expertise of a modern university, an approach that is unique to Australia.

QFES Commissioner Lee Johnson said the MoU was formal recognition of an opportunity for QFES and QUT's CEDM to work together to enhance disaster management capability and ultimately the safety of Queenslanders.

"Queenslanders are no strangers to disasters. We're experiencing a severe bushfire season and November 1 marked the start of storm, flood and cyclone season," Mr Johnson said.

"This is an opportune time for our agencies to collaborate and explore potential, particularly in the areas of disaster preparation and planning, as well as developing the resilience of Queensland communities."

Dr Paul Barnes, Deputy Director of CEDM, said the MOU formalised a relationship that had been developed over a number of years and would bring together practical and theoretical expertise in emergency response and disaster mitigation in a collaboration that will benefit Queensland.

"The partnership between CEDM and QFES is hoped to create a unique concentration of expertise to support new thinking about emergency management," Dr Barnes said.

"The collaboration will enable access to a range of researchers from across QUT faculties while CEDM brings a specialised combination and practical and conceptual expertise to the partnership and knowledge of innovative ideas in emergency management worldwide."

Initially the collaboration will involve QFES officers and QUT researchers tackling issues and challenges including the modelling of catastrophic events, coordination of the information and communication practices within emergency operations centres and specialised training needs of staff and volunteers.

"Another important area the collaboration will address is occupational health and safety, particularly in relation to extended periods of operation during an emergency, equipment suitability and the management of fatigue, stress and other impacts," Dr Barnes said.

"QUT has a role to play in the community and CEDM is critical to that as our main agenda is to assist the QFES in reducing the impacts of emergencies and disasters on health, the community and infrastructure.

"With the MOU now signed QUT can match research students to solving new challenges in emergency management."

Media contact:
Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 9449, amanda.weaver@qut.edu.au
After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901.

Executive Dean Ross Young (left) and Commissioner Lee Johnson sign the MoU between QUT and QFES.

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