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Mastering disaster management – from anywhere in the world

By Leanne Coleman

Emma Kettle with RedR Australia electrical engineer John Simpson in front of a section of Za’atari refugee camp Emma Kettle with RedR Australia electrical engineer John Simpson in front of a section of Za’atari refugee camp

A humanitarian aid worker who took her first volunteer placement in Tunisia as an 18-year-old in the 1980s said that education was key to the recovery and rebuilding of countries facing a humanitarian crisis.

The Senior Emergency Program Manager of RedR Australia, Emma Kettle, has travelled the globe using her training in teaching and humanitarian aid to assist people in crisis-affected countries to re-build their lives.

“What struck me was that in times of a humanitarian disaster or crisis the children stopped being educated,” Ms Kettle said. “The current crisis in Syria is an example of where children may not have been educated for up to three years, which will affect the future of these young people and the country when they re-build.”

Ms Kettle, whose experience lies in training communities, wanted to move further into the humanitarian emergency response field and enrolled in the new Master of Emergency and Disaster Management course at Charles Darwin University.

The course aims to enhance the capacity of current and future practitioners in the humanitarian aid, emergency and disaster management field. It will provide students with a postgraduate qualification that has been designed and is delivered in close collaboration with industry partners.

“Although I have teaching and training qualifications I do not have any postgraduate qualifications in the humanitarian aid and international development sector,” she said. “I wanted to take my skills to another level and improve my understanding of the complex issues from experts in the field.”

CDU course coordinator Jens Oppermann said the course would give students access to more than 20 guest lecturers from across the globe, including current practitioners in specific fields of humanitarian work together with academic researchers.

“The course merges best practice in the industry with high calibre academic research and aims to provide a solid foundation that enables students to gain the professional knowledge and competencies needed in this rapidly evolving sector,” Mr Oppermann said.

“Students will also be able to choose a specific pathway they would like to focus on throughout their study such as environment, health or management, so they can customise the course to meet their individual career development needs.”

Ms Kettle, who has just returned from a field trip that included time in Jordan working with refugees, said she could continue her study while working.

“Responding to emergencies is not a nine-to-five job, and I travel a lot,” Ms Kettle said. “Wherever I am in the world I can log on, access seminars and continue to study online.”