Resilience: mental health in fire protection

“Resilience” in fire protection doesn’t just refer to a building’s fire resistance.

In a time of increasing workplace stresses, depression, and anxiety, the resilience of individuals is of utmost importance.

A series of projects, recently undertaken in the construction industry, sought to address the drivers of workplace-affected mental health concerns in that sector.

FPA Australia is now seeking to address this growing problem in fire protection, and will draw from such existing initiatives to develop the right strategy for our industry.

This session will explore some of the challenges that will need to be overcome.

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Hamish Park

Senior Consultant - Client Engagement, Lysander

Hamish brings both leadership and proven practice to the table, with experience partnering many Australian and global businesses.  He makes the complex understandable, with an approach that sees him work with both executive teams and those they lead throughout an organisation.

With a passion to make change stick, Hamish brings an appreciation of the approach and conversations required at both corporate tables and toolbox discussions. His blend of contemporary knowledge and the reality of the current business environment give him a pragmatism that is valuable at all levels of an organisation.

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Professor Shantha Rajaratnam

Academic Head - School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University

Professor and Deputy Head of the Monash School of Psychological Sciences and Deputy Director of the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health.

Shantha Rajaratnam was awarded his PhD degree from Monash University in 1998, and completed a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2000. He undertook postdoctoral training at the Centre for Chronobiology at the University of Surrey, UK from 2000-2002, where he investigated human sleep-wake regulation, in particular the role of melatonin. In 2004 he took up a visiting academic position at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA, investigating the impact of melatonin agonists and light, on sleep and circadian rhythms, and fatigue management programs in occupational settings. Since 2006 he has served as Chair of the Monash Sleep Network. He is a Lecturer in Medicine in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Neuroscientist in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Bingham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is a Chartered Psychologist in the UK and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He is past President of the Australasian Sleep Association, Program Leader in the Alertness CRC and is Chair of the Sleep Health Foundation.

His research interests include circadian regulation of sleep, effects of melatonin and melatonin agonists on sleep and circadian rhythms, effects of light on the human circadian system, evaluation of fatigue management programs for shift workers, consequences of sleep loss and sleep disruption, and regulation of working time and legal issues relating to sleep loss and fatigue.

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Rob Webb

Chief Executive Officer, Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

Mr Rob Webb was appointed Chief Executive Officer of AFAC, in December 2021. Prior to this, Mr Webb was Director, National Projects and Innovation at AFAC and served as Program Director for the Australian Fire Danger Ratings System.

Mr Webb is an experienced leader in the emergency management industry. Formerly Deputy CEO and at the Bureau of Meteorology for 26 years, he has extensive experience across multiple jurisdictions covering some of Australia’s most damaging natural disasters. Mr Webb specialised in extreme weather services, lead the Bureau in operations and gave expert evidence at Coronial Inquiries and post-event reviews. His meteorological expertise stretches from bushfires to thunderstorms, floods to heatwaves, tropical cyclones to tsunami. He has a strong interest in social science with a particular focus on empowering communities to make the right choices, at the right times, and is acutely aware of the value of social capital in supporting appropriate action.

He has forged strong partnerships with the emergency management sector at the local, state and Commonwealth level. Having spent a career working with state and territory emergency management authorities, Mr Webb has the knowledge of the challenges facing the emergency management sector. Mr Webb has experience in leveraging innovative practices to benefit multiple outcomes and understand the importance of taking a strategic view to create alignment across various activities.

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John Kilgour

Chief Executive Officer, FPA Australia

John joined Fire Protection Association Australia as Chief Executive Officer in February this year, following roles in senior leadership positions in the public and non-for-profit sectors.

He spent a large part of his career in several leadership roles with BP in the downstream retail area, where he led an initiative to create the successful BP Highway Travel Centres in Queensland.  He also served as the Oil Director – Vietnam and CEO of its subsidiaries BP Petco and Castrol Vietnam, which he transformed into a locally led and profitable manufacturing and retail lubricants operation.

He then moved into asset management and property consulting, before being selected as CEO of the Committee for Ballarat, which gave him insights into longer term strategic planning that goes beyond election cycles delivering social and economic growth ahead of major population expansion predicted for the region.

Most recently, John was the CEO of Civil Contractors Federation in Victoria (CCF), and President of the Victorian Civil Construction Industry Alliance (VCCIA), which represents 20-member based associations across civil construction industry delivering in excess of $22bn per annum of major infrastructure works in the state.

John has brought his extensive experience to his role at the Association and is working on strategies to ensure its future sustainability and success.