Keynote Speakers

Matina Jewell

Leadership Strategist


During her 15 year military career, best-selling author Matina Jewell tracked down warlords, worked with the US Navy SEALs, fast roped out of helicopters onto ships, and represented Australia as a peacekeeper with the United Nations in Syria and Lebanon where she found herself thrown into the middle of a devastating war.

Matina’s lessons of resilience and leadership have transformed some of the biggest companies and her message of courage continues to empower leaders from all walks of life. Her story has audiences on their feet time and time again.

With enthralling footage, stories of hardship and valuable learning from her many life-threatening missions, Matina will take you on a journey that will affect long lasting positive change in your leaders, teams and organizations for years to come.

Matina has been featured on the ABC’s Australian Story, is a best-selling author and her life story is currently being made into a feature film.

Rachael Robertson

Leadership Development


BA (Deakin), Grad.Dip.M’ment (Melbourne), MBA (Melbourne)

Rachael Robertson returned to Australia after 12 months in the Antarctic, where she successfully led the 58th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to Davis Station. She was only the second female to ever lead a team at the Station and one of the youngest ever leaders. She managed a team of 18 people through the long, dark, Antarctic winter and through trial and error built a resilient and highly successful team based on the foundation that ‘respect trumps harmony’. The most important rule was No Triangles – I don’t speak to you, about them.

This leadership role is a truly unique experience. Antarctica in winter is totally inaccessible which means once the last ship leaves at the end of February, no one can leave the base under any circumstance (not even if you are dying) until the ship returns in November. It’s a 24 hour a day, every day of the year, leadership role. In any circumstance, this would be a tough role, but for a female in a male dominated environment, it was also a very challenging one!

Prior to this Rachael held senior operational management roles for 16 years in a range of complex and challenging environments and now works in the field of leadership development sharing her experiences.
Since returning to Australia, Rachael has completed her MBA and written a best-selling book, Leading on the Edge, based on her year in Antarctica. The book is currently under option for film/TV. She is an international keynote speaker and has presented at over 1,200 conferences around the world. Her latest book, Respect trumps Harmony, was released in April 2020.

Invited Speakers

The Hon David Elliott MP

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services


NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott was born in Bankstown in 1970 and has proudly served the Baulkham Hills community since 2011.

As someone who has worked in various combat agencies, Mr Elliott is committed to supporting and promoting the outstanding work of emergency services workers and volunteers who put their lives on the line without thought of personal safety.

Mr Elliott attended the Christian Community High School in Regents Park before completing a Bachelor of Arts (History and Asian Studies) and later a Master of Arts (Communications).

He worked for former federal MPs Bronwyn Bishop and Former Prime Minister John Howard before starting work in the NSW Police media unit in 1993 and two years later being commissioned into the Army. He then joined the staff of then-NSW Opposition Leader Peter Collins before becoming the national campaign director for Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy and also serving with peacekeeping forces in Bougainville.

On his return to Australia, Mr Elliott joined the Australian Hotels Association and served as the NSW Deputy Chief Executive until January 2008. He was then the Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Contractors Federation (NSW) until his election to Parliament. Mr Elliott has previously served as the Minister for Counter Terrorism, Corrections and Veterans Affairs.

Commissioner Rob Rogers AFSM

NSW Rural Fire Service


Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers first became involved with the NSW Rural Fire Service in 1979 as a volunteer member of the Belrose Rural Fire Brigade, before being appointed Deputy Fire Control Officer for the Greater Taree district in 1995.

Mr Rogers has held various executive roles in the NSW RFS since 2001, including responsibility for regional management, community safety and operations.

In 2011 he was appointed deputy commissioner.

He represents the NSW Rural Fire Service on national and state bodies including; Chair of the Australian fire danger ratings board; Chair of the State Bushfire Arson Tax Taskforce; Chair of the Aviation Industry Reference Group and Aviation Advisory Committee; Co-chair of the Incident Management Road Safety Working Group; and Co-chair of the Joint Operations Taskforce.

During the most recent devastating fire season, Deputy Commissioner Rogers, oversaw the state-wide response to more than 11,400 bush and grass fires that burned more than 5.5 million hectares destroyed 2,448 homes and tragically took 25 lives.  

Deputy Commissioner Rogers was awarded the National Medal in 1995 and the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2004.

Commissioner Rogers was formally appointed to the role of Commissioner in July 2020.

Dr Michael Eburn

Australian National University


 Dr Michael Eburn is a barrister and honorary Associate Professor at the ANU College of Law. He has served with St John Ambulance (NSW), NSW Ambulance and the NSW SES. He is well known to the emergency services sector through his research funded by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, his book ‘Emergency Law’ (Federation Press) and numerous papers published in international journals including the International Journal of Wildland Fire and the Australian Journal of Emergency Management. His most read work is his blog – Australian Emergency Law that he has written for over 10 years. This blog is an invaluable resource providing commentary on the law and answering legal questions from emergency service volunteers and staff from all agencies and about all hazards.

Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM

Commissioner of Resilience NSW


Shane Fitzsimmons was appointed as the inaugural Commissioner for Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management with the Department of Premier and Cabinet from 1 May 2020.

He is currently the chair of the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC), the State Recovery Committee (SRC) and the National Emergency Medal Committee (NEMC). This appointment followed a distinguished career with the NSW Rural Fire Service of over 35 years, serving as both a volunteer and salaried member.

In 1998 he was appointed an Assistant Commissioner with the RFS and has held portfolio responsibilities for Operations, Strategic Development and Regional Management. In 2004, he was appointed the inaugural Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) Visiting Fellow to the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM) for a period of 12-months, developing and delivering programs in management and leadership.

During the period of September 2007 – April 2020 he was the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service and was also the Chair of the NSW RFS Bushfire Coordinating Committee and the Rural Fire Service Advisory Council. He was also a member of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee and the NSW State Rescue Board (SRB) and was Chair of SRB from 2008 to November 2015. In July 2012, he was appointed a Board Member of the NSW Government Telecommunications Authority.

He was appointed a Director of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) in March 2008 and was the Chair of the NAFC Board from 2009 to 2013. He was a Director on the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre from 2009 to 2014. He was a member of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council from 2007 and was a member of its Board from November 2016 to November 2019 and held the position of Deputy President upon retirement from the Board. In January 2016 he was appointed as a Councillor of the Royal Humane Society of NSW Inc. Additionally, he is a patron of two charities – Kids Xpress and Coffee 4 Kids.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons has been awarded the Rural Fire Service Long-Service Medal for more than 30 years, the National Medal in recognition of more than 35 years, and the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM). He has also been acknowledged with a Paul Harris Fellow and a Paul Harris Fellow Sapphire through Rotary Clubs of Berowra and Sydney, and most recently announced as Australian Father of the Year 2020 through The Shepherd Centre.

Brian McDonough 

RFSA President


Brian McDonough is a Group Captain in the Northern Tablelands and a member of Frazers Cutting Brigade for over 15 years. Before moving to ‘just outside’ Tabulam in the Tenterfield Shire, Brian previously lived in inner Sydney and was employed in the Information Technology industry for over 35 years. During his career he worked for a number of corporations including IBM, Taronga Zoo and ATOS Origin.

Brian has previous Board Director experience with a PC software distribution company and the Mosman Rowing Club in Sydney.

Brian was the Alternate Delegate to State Council for Division 9 from 2009 – 2011, and then Chair of Division 9 from April 2011 until June 2011, when he joined the RFSA Board. He is a former Deputy Chair of the NSW RFS Infrastructure Services Consultative Committee, and has also been active in his role on many other committees. Brian has served as an Association Director for ten years, as Vice-President from 2017 – 2019, and in June 2019 was elected to the role of President. Brian is also a Director of CAVFA, the national Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations.

Paul Hardy

Surf Life Saving New South Wales


Paul has a keen interest in contract delivery and enjoys the complexities and opportunities within the UAV (drone) industry. Leading the Australian UAV Service department, which is responsible for maintaining and developing Surf Life Saving New South Wales’ UAV capabilities and commercial contract deliveries. This involves the delivery of UAV surveillance and operational tasking availability across 61 fixed and mobile locations across the NSW coastline, with a presence in every coastal council. Paul’s key focusses are on communication and training, which he has found are key when delivering a consistent and professional service across paid and volunteer workforces, across a large geographical area.

 Brent Manieri

Operations Manager, Public Safety


Brent has had a strong involvement in lifeguarding and lifesaving for approximately two decades as an active patrolling member and working professionally for the organisation. He has operated in several positions professionally including Lifesaving Officer, Surf Sport Coordinator, Australian Lifeguard Service Manager whilst he has also previously held the position of Club Captain in his voluntary capacity.

Brent is now responsible for the strategic development, positioning, delivery and maintenance of state-wide operational capability for Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW), the Australian Lifeguard Service (NSW) and the Australian UAV Service. This position is responsible for ensuring that SLSNSW, through its volunteer members and paid personnel, continues to be the peak body for coastal water safety.

 Paul Scott

Manager, Mental Health Counselling and Support Services, NSW Rural Fire Service


Paul Scott is employed at the NSW Rural Fire Service and has performed the role of Manager for Mental Health and Counselling & Support Services from 2001 to 2021. He led and directed their Mental Health, Critical Incident Support Services, Peer Support, Employee Assistance and Member Assistance Programs. He was the principal officer responsible for mental health & wellbeing. He is currently transitioning out of this role and is assisting in embedding a new team of mental health practitioners. The Rural Fire Service has a membership numbering more than 76,000.

Paul is also a Consultant Crisis Intervention Mental Health Specialist with around 30 years’ experience that includes suicide intervention, crisis counselling, traumatic incident response and hostage negotiation. Since 2006, he has undertaken consultancy assignments with World Vision International (Global Staff Care Program) in Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. His last deployments include Turkey near the Syrian Border, Bangladesh for the Rohingya refugee humanitarian crisis and Afghanistan.

Paul served a period of fifteen years as an Executive Member on the Board of Management at Crisis Intervention & Management Australasia and is an Accredited & Approved Instructor with Mental Health First Aid (Australia) and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. He holds tertiary qualifications including a university Diploma in Community Organisations Management, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education majoring in Adult Education & Group Work, and a Master’s Degree in Counselling.

He lives in Sydney, Australia and in his spare time enjoys sailing.

Professor Ross Bradstock

University of Wollongong


​Emeritus Professor Ross Bradstock co-established the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong in 2006. This highly successful, multi-disciplinary research team is dedicated to the development of a quantitative understanding of risks posed by bushfires to multiple values and how such risks may be mitigated through cost-effective management, particularly under climate change. Recently he led the establishment of the NSW Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub, a collaboration between UOW, the NSW Government, Western Sydney University, UNSW and University of Tasmania. He retired as Director of CERMB and the NSW BRMR Hub in August 2020. Professor Bradstock has worked extensively with government agencies and the community to help improve our understanding and capacity to coexist with fire. He has served as an expert witness at two Royal Commissions and led a major technical project that supported the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry during 2020.  

 Cameron Hardiman

Author (Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police Retired)


Cameron Hardiman joined the Victoria Police at age eighteen and served over 34 years in policing. Most of his time with Victoria Police was as an air observer with the Police Air Wing. He eventually joined the Australian Federal Police and served on overseas missions that included the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. He then transferred into an investigations role, focusing first on general crime, then people smuggling operations and counter terrorism.

Andrew Klein

Conference MC


Andrew Klein is one of Australia’s most engaged and engaging Professional Conference & Event MCs. He is also one of this country’s foremost speakers and trainers on Presentation Skills and Pitching for Business.​

A former corporate lawyer, Andrew quit the law in the late 90’s before starting up his own business as a corporate trainer and speaker. As an MC, Andrew brings his casual yet corporate style to proceedings and is well-known on the conference circuit for his revealing speaker introductions, his improvisational skills and ability to adapt to different audiences.​

Andrew also runs educational & interactive keynotes and workshops on Presentation Skills and Pitching Skills. ​

Andrew’s hobbies include coaching basketball, shaving his head, eating hot chips, watching ‘Survivor’, walking his dog Pebbles and trying to convince his wife and 3 kids that he has a real job.