An Australian Government Initiative
A Disaster Recovery Resource for Public Collections in the ACT Region
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Collections disaster preparedness planning
– anticipating the risks


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Welcoming Address: Nola Anderson (Assistant Director National Collection, Australian War Memorial).

Session One: Integrating Contingency Planning

At our most recent DISACT network meeting in February one of the participants suggested that we organise one of our occasional seminars around the issue of business continuity to help disaster planning practitioners contextualise their activities. There seemed to be many and varied approaches to putting all of the plans together and some concern that whatever approach one takes some basic principles msut underly this planning process. Our first speaker, Les Whittet has over 20 years experience as a specialist in Business Continuity and Risk Management. He spent over 10 years with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, and he managed the Authority’s Y2K project and contingency training measures. He has extensive experience in all stages of the BCM Life Cycle and frequently presents on BCM at national and international conferences. His work in BCM has covered a range of organisations in banking, the power industry, engineering, education and various government agencies.

Les is a member of the Business Continuity Institute, founded the first Australian Forum of the BCI in 2003 and set up the ACT forum soon after.

Each institution seems to have gone about the implementation of business continuity planning differently and the same is true for the integration of all of the component plans including collection disaster plans. The network thought it would be useful for people to see how a couple of major institutions went about this process and perhaps some cautionary tales on what obstacles can be encountered. Our first case study will be presented by Erica Persak. Erica has been involved in collections management in the cultural sector for over twenty years, including as Registrar at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia. For the last eight years Erica has been the Assistant Director Collection Services, at the National Gallery of Australia where she is responsible for managing the conservation and registration functions, and the Gallery’s research library .

The National Library is a cultural collecting institution where the assets are almost all public access. They’ve implemented BC planning in their own way and structured their contingency planning bodies to suit; here to present our second case study is Lydia Preiss.

Session Two : Ensuring Responder Safety.

Another issue that concerned network members at a recent meeting was risk management regarding disaster response teams. Disaster responders often find themselves in situations where the emergency is a non evacuation event such as a building system malfunction and most commonly involving flooding. The hail event that hit north Canberra on the 26 th of November 2005 affected several cultural collecting institutions causing extensive flooding of storage areas. In that event, it was quickly assessed, by each of the sites, that the flooding sources were blocked gutters and drains and hail build-up on low pitch roofs. Given the direct threat to heritage collections, the reaction of some of the disaster responders was to climb onto the building’s roof and clear the blockages. This even occurred in organisations which had clear guidelines on who was allowed access to roof areas and specific safety equipment requirements for access. A mishap in these circumstances could have rapidly escalated this emergency into a tragedy.

When disaster plans are compiled, organisations often focus more on the recovery requirements of the material that’s affected than on the risk management issues facing responders. The purpose of the seminar topic is to consider these issues and strategies that planners might build into their plans to avoid compromising the safety of disaster responders.

Our first speaker, Peter Heal is the Senior Risk Manager with the Australian Capital Territory Insurance Authority which provides insurance and risk management services to ACT Government Departments, Agencies and organisations. Peter has over 30 years experience in insurance and risk management fields and more recently in assisting Government agencies identify risk and establish risk management plans and practices. Peter is a Certified Practising Risk Manager and a Senior Associate of the Australian New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance.

To give an Emergency Services perspective on responder safety, we have Matthew Harper. Matthew is the Director, Emergency Management for the Australian Capital Territory Emergency Services Authority. In this role he has responsibilities for the planning, operations and risk management teams for the ESA operations in the ACT.

Prior to this Matthew has worked with the New South Wales State Emergency Management Committee, Blue Mountains City Council, Olympic Co-ordination Authority and the NSW Rural Fire Service. In all these roles, Matthew has had a significant role in the forming of emergency management strategies, plans and education including the Sydney CBD Evacuation Plan, operations evacuation plans for Bush Fires/Wildfires and for the Sydney Olympic precinct before, during and after the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Our final speaker is Alison Casey, the Team Leader for OHS Projects in the Workplace Health and Safety Division of Comcare. Her presentation focuses on risk assessment issues arising from the legislated duty of care provisions.

Discussion. [PDF]


Updated 3 November, 2006 , webmaster, CPBR (