THRI Alumni - Where are they now?

The 6th International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference

Darling Harbour, Sydney. April 30- May 2, 2019

At this conference I presented some of my PhD findings: an oral presentation on normalising natural hazard preparedness – which I’ve named fire-fitness - and a poster on cropland fire. Networking was of course very important, and I made useful new contacts, such as with some crop fire researchers from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria.

My attendance at this conference was partially funded by my local Council – the City of Onkaparinga in South Australia. This was an information-rich meeting with diverse content and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. Outside the plenaries there were three streams of 20 minute presentations in a 15/5 format. This gave enough time to deliver a succinct message and take questions.

A feature of the program was the successful streaming of several sessions from the conference’s concurrent international locations of Marseilles in France and Albuquerque in New Mexico, USA. It was fascinating to hear how fire and fire problems are managed in these three diverse locations. One international link-up was an all-female line up on the topic: What happens when women thrive – a life and career in fire.

Another highlight for me was the inclusion of several presentations and panel sessions devoted to indigenous fire management by First Australians. The speakers were so generous and clearly communicated why and how they use fire to the benefit of people, ecosystems and biodiversity to maintain an holistic, healthy entity. Eager to share their abundant knowledge of fire, there is so much non-indigenous Australians can learn from the traditional owners of the land. At this conference, the Welcome to Country was spine-tinglingly wonderful, and included almost a music lesson from local elder, Uncle Brendan with his yidaki (didgeridoo) and sticks.

I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and will go again – hoping next time to be able to present some evaluation of trialled PhD findings.

Rachel Westcott
PhD, THRI, 2018