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Northern Institute

Emergency Management Volunteering Workshop

Australian and Japanese Experiences and Challenges of Emergency Management Volunteers
Presenter Hosted by Associate Professor Akhilesh Surjan
Contact person
Northern Institute
T: 08 8946 7468 E:
Location Savanna Room (Building Yellow 1, Level 1, Room 48)
Northern Institute
Open to Public

Join us for brief presentations from Japanese and CDU experts, NT Emergency Service, and other organizations, followed by open discussion and light refreshments.

CDU, in collaboration with Keio University (Japan), is conducting a project on the topic of Australian and Japanese Experiences and Challenges of Emergency Management Volunteers, which is supported by the Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF).   

Volunteers are very important in Australia and Japan in helping disaster-struck communities. Australia’s emergency service providers recruit about 200,000 volunteers and provide regular training; however, retention of volunteers is a growing concern. Approximately 90% of the firefighting and emergency services workforce across Australia is made up of volunteers.

In Japan, the volunteering landscape is dominated by ‘spontaneous/non-formal volunteers who provide significant post-disaster assistance but with very little or no formal training. Japan’s volunteering landscape is continuously evolving from the Kobe earthquake of 1995 to the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami of 2011, where approx. 1.5 million volunteers assisted the disaster-affected area. Gradually, a system is emerging to spread volunteers’ engagement over a period of time with adequate insurance and basic training.   

In conversation with emergency management organizations, NGOs and volunteers from NT and experts from Japan, this workshop aims to facilitate meaningful experience sharing and mutual learning. 

Guest experts from Japan

Professor Sakiko Kanbara

Professor Sakiko Kanbara is the founder of EpiNurse Incorporated, which won the Risk Award for the 2017 UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, and a professor at Kobe City College of Nursing and the University of Kochi. She is also a board member of the Japan Society of Disaster Nursing and a member of the Science Council of Japan. She received her BS and MS in Health Science from Kobe University and PhD from the Department of Public Health and International Health at Okayama University.

She earned her place as a researcher at the Research Institute of Nursing Care for People and Community, WHO Collaboration Center for Nursing in Disasters and Health Emergency, University of Hyogo. She has developed new courses for Doctoral Degree Course for Disaster Nursing Global Leadership Program at the University of Kochi, Japan, since 2012.


Professor Rajib Shaw

Professor Rajib Shaw teaches at Japan’s Keio University and conducts research on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation while also contributing as the Chairperson of SEEDS Asia and CWS Japan, two Japanese NGOs. He holds several honorary titles and has championed multi-hazard community-based disaster risk reduction in several Asian countries, and his work has led to the establishment of village-level community-based working groups. His expertise also includes community-based disaster & climate risk management, urban risk management, and disaster and environmental education. He served as the Chair of the United Nations Global Science Technology Advisory Group (STAG) and current Co-chair of the Asia Science Technology Academic Advisory Group (ASTAAG) and CLA (Coordinating Lead Author) for the IPCC 6th Assessment Report (Asia Chapter). He is the editor of a book series on disaster risk reduction published by Springer. Prof. Shaw has published 61 books and over 400 academic papers.

Professor Shaw is the recipient of the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2022 for his lifetime contributions to the field of disaster risk reduction. He also received the prestigious “Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA)” in 2021 for his contribution to the education sector. PBSA is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians and persons of Indian origin by the President of India. Professor Shaw is actively collaborating with key stakeholders involved in disaster volunteering in Japan.

Experts from Northern Territory

Mark Cunningham NT Expert

Mr Mark Cunnington is the Manager of Northern Command Operations at the Northern Territory Emergency Service (NTES). NTES is part of the tri-service agency known as NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services. Mark brings with him over 40 years of rich experience in actively working with emergency services, communities, volunteers and relevant stakeholders and has coordinated a wide range of emergency operations in the Territory. Mark has volunteered as an ambulance officer, firefighter and emergency service member working in frontline response roles, team leadership and managed the Darwin Unit of NTES over 10 years before taking a paid staff role in NTES delivering emergency response and emergency management training across the Northern Territory. For the last 10 years, Mark has worked in his current role undertaking emergency management planning, response and coordination while working to enhance community resilience through volunteers. 


Associate Professor Akhilesh Surjan

Associate Professor Akhilesh Surjan Prof Surjan has successfully engaged with issues of disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and urban sustainability for two decades. He served as a Lead Author for the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He also served as Contributing Author for the United Nation’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. He has also successfully worked in academic, civil society and government institutions in Asia-Pacific region. Prof Surjan is editor of the international journal Sustainability Science (2017 Impact Factor 3.855) and program committee member of the Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference.

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