Home Event News The success of AFAC21 VIRTUAL is a testament to resilience

The success of AFAC21 VIRTUAL is a testament to resilience

by Marcus
The success of AFAC21 VIRTUAL is a testament to resilience

The success of AFAC21 VIRTUAL is a testament to resilience

The first virtual event in the conference and exhibition’s 26-year history attracted more than 2,500 attendees, featured 120 sessions across seven streams, 9 keynote presentations, and 37 virtual exhibitors.

AFAC21 Virtual Conference and Exhibition concluded with more than 2,534 registered delegates in attendance over four days, with presentations that shared insights and tackled the tough issues and affecting the fire and emergency service sector.

The conference and exhibition ran from 5-8 October 2021 and was hosted on a state-of-the-art, interactive platform as a result of COVID-19 necessitating an alternative to a face-to-face environment. The AFAC21 conference was complemented by The Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) Australia Conference and the Australian Disaster Resilience Conference (ADRC) as well as a day dedicated to the Professional Development Program.

The highly attended sessions covered diverse topics around the theme Balancing Impact and Expectations and included:

  • Prescribed burning
  • Simulation and data
  • Cultural land management
  • Community engagement
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Climate change and environment
  • Volunteer capability

Unforgettable keynote presenters included Turia Pitt, Stan Grant, Dominique Hogan-Doran SC, Bronwyn Ray, Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM Dr Michelle Dickinson, and Adriana Keating. (See below for 7 of the most inspiring quotes from these sessions).

The Professional Development Program focused on managing extreme wildfires and offered delegates the opportunity to expand their knowledge and understanding, while being able to virtually connect with colleagues. .

One-of-a-kind virtual exhibition

AFAC21 was delivered virtually in in a state-of-the-art virtual environment that was designed to emulate the physical aesthetic of the ICC, Sydney venue. This one-time virtual event showcased the latest and best equipment, technology and services of 37 innovative exhibitors via an easily accessible, feature-rich platform.


Off the back of the phenomenal success of AFAC21 Virtual, preparations have already begun for AFAC22 due to be held in a face-to-face environment in Adelaide, 23–26 August 2022. More information to come on www.afacconference.com.au

7 Inspirational Keynote Quotes from AFAC21

The most stirring AFAC21 talks have a way of creating energy and giving pause for reflection. In less than 30 minutes they can make you think deeply and empower you to act.

Here are 7 thought-provoking quotes from this monumental virtual event:


“It can be really powerful if you’re going through something tough, to lean in to that and say, ‘what I am going through right now is really tough’, and there is nothing wrong with that, you don’t have to find a silver lining. It can be really powerful to just own how are feeling.”

Turia Pitt – Mindset Coach, Author and Athlete

Day 3 Keynote: Never, ever give up: overcoming adversity


“While ever we don’t tell the truth of our history, while ever we don’t deal with the legacy of our history, history festers, and where that festers, violence and conflict follows.”

Stan Grant – ABC’s International Affairs Analyst

Day 3 Keynote: Talking to my country


“You need to have strong systems of transparency and accountability because of the connection it has with public confidence. The next time, in the absence of these structures being really well resourced, supported, acknowledged and engaged with, if that does not happen, then there may be a real push for the next Royal Commission to be a ‘blame game’. It’s a big call for this sector to try and achieve all of these things, given the pressures that you’re under. Something I came away with from this Royal Commission is a sense of pride in how much people give – not just in their voluntary time in preparing and defending their own communities from disasters – but also the leadership. We only look to you in times of disaster, we need to trust you, and we need good reason to do so. I hope you get to take this time to network virtually and to take comfort in each another. Going forward, you will certainly have my support.”

Dominique Hogan-Doran SC – Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements

Day 2 keynote: Australia’s Royal Commission into national natural disaster arrangements: insights, experience, lessons to be learned


“Preparing for extreme climate events means we need better information on how weather extremes will collide, with what frequency, and with what intensity. Future compound events could look nothing like events we’ve seen in the past and will almost certainly have a larger footprint.”

Bronwyn Ray – Program Director, Australian Climate Service

Day 1 keynote: Australian Climate Service – better understanding societal impacts of our changing climate and natural hazards


“Community has to be at the heart of all our thinking, of all our planning, of all our investments, of all our decisions in the full cycle of disaster management from planning right through to recovery. Remembering that recovery is more than rebuilding, repair and reconstruction of houses, property, infrastructure and things – one of the most critical parts of recovery is healing and the emotional and psychological wellbeing of communities, individuals and families.”

Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM – Commissioner, Resilience NSW

Day 2 keynote: Resilience NSW: a new approach


“It’s not about what we know, it’s about how useful it is to others. Creating a language and experiments that are inclusive allow more people to help you problem solve, which is a way better way of getting a diverse set of answers and solutions to a problem. It’s crucial for long term success.”

Dr Michelle Dickinson – Nanotechnologist and Materials Engineer

Day 1 keynote: Communicating for impact: the power of curiosity


“All this thinking about the importance of collaboration comes down to value. There’s a challenge with investing in research on risk reduction and risk reduction itself because the return is in what doesn’t happen. Estimating that can be very difficult. If researchers can build their competence in projecting and reporting on damage costs avoided, we will start to see more bang for our buck in disaster research because more research will be funded, and this will lead to enhancing our risk reduction activities.”

Adriana Keating – International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and RMIT University

Day 1 keynote: The value of CRC research

These sessions are an important but small selection of the AFAC21 conference presentations that took place at AFAC21. Pass holders can view these and all other AFAC21 presentations on demand until 31 January 2022.

Find more information about AFAC on www.afacconference.com.au

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