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Canterbury disaster response knowledge shared

Canterbury disaster response knowledge shared with ASEAN nations

The University of Canterbury’s extensive emergency response leadership expertise is being shared internationally with a group of Southeast Asian disaster management experts.

For two weeks, the University of Canterbury (UC), in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), is delivering the Critical Incident Leadership (CIL) course as part of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA) Centre Executive Programme.

From 17-30 September, UC is hosting 26 people from ASEAN National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) and Red Cross National Societies in ASEAN who are in New Zealand on a six-month intensive emergency management response programme.

Along with former Christchurch mayor Sir Bob Parker, UC Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr welcomed the AHA Centre Executive Programme participants to UC.

It’s important to explore the lessons of the past as we contemplate how best to prepare for the future in an uncertain world, Dr Carr says.

“Our role now is to develop the next tier of leaders.”

This is the fourth year UC has been involved in the international programme. Dr Carr says it showcases UC’s expertise in this space, having been approached by MFAT to deliver this training.

Captain Muhammad Azhar Said, who is Rota Commander for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), came to Christchurch as part of an urban search and rescue (USAR) team following the February 2011 earthquake. Sir Bob Parker thanked him for his service.

Captain Said says it is great to be back in Christchurch and see the contrasts in how far the city had come in terms of infrastructure. However he says the thing that has made the biggest impression on him was the community support and people-led activity to get behind the rebuild, such as the Student Volunteer Army. “That’s just really wonderful to see.”

The participants will undertake a variety of leadership activities throughout their study tour of New Zealand, including emergency management exercises and hazardscape tours. They will also learn first-hand from local industry and community leaders, including Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend, Christchurch City Council chief resilience officer Mike Gillooly, UC Student Volunteer Army (SVA) president Jared McMahon, and UC lecturer Dr Matthew Hughes, who is conducting geospatial research on earthquake impacts on infrastructure lifelines.

The AHA Centre Executive Programme is being delivered across six days in Christchurch, two days in Kaikōura, two days in Wellington and three days in Auckland.

David Shearer, Director of UC’s Executive Development Programmes, says that New Zealand experts will be sharing disaster management practices that have or haven’t worked, local experiences for other countries to learn from, networking and creating stronger ties between New Zealand and ASEAN countries.


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