Keynote Speakers

Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM, Commissioner of Resilience NSW

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM

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), Board of Commissioners (BOC) 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.

He has most recently been announced as the 2021 NSW Australian of the Year, and the Australian Father of the Year 2020 through The Shepherd Centre.

Wendy Brooks, Flood and Coastal Risk Management, UK Environment Agency

Wendy Brooks

Wendy has a lifelong passion for nature conservation and wildlife. She has a degree in the Biology of plants and animals from Newcastle University. Her early career was spent working for England’s statutory nature conservation advisor, Natural England.

Wendy joined the Environment Agency in 1999 as the Regional Conservation Manager for Anglian Region. She moved on to gain experience as a National Flood and Coastal Risk Manager. She’s managed the strategic implementation of Flood and Water Management Act 2010 key legislation in England, implemented the first cycle of the Floods Directive and developed ‘working with natural processes’ which has now become known as Natural Flood Management/Nature Based Solutions. Wendy also led the Environment Agency’s work on climate change adaptation.

Wendy has been working collaboratively with partners to develop the second National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Strategy for England to create a nation ready for and resilient to flooding and coastal change, now, tomorrow and to the year 2100. She is leading the implementation of the Strategy within the Environment Agency and the flooding and coastal change sector in England. Wendy is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Water and Enviromental Management and a Chartered Environmentalist.

Sponsored by


Chad Berginnis, Executive Director, ‎Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM)

Chad Berginnis

Chad Berginnis, CFM, is the Executive Director for the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), a national non-profit organization of over 20,000 members and 37 state chapters whose mission is to promote policies, approaches, and activities that mitigate current and future losses, costs, and human suffering caused by flooding; and to protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains – all without causing adverse impacts. 

Mr. Berginnis has 28 years of experience in various aspects of natural hazard management, flood loss reduction, and land use planning / programs at the state, local and private sector level.  As a state official, Mr. Berginnis worked in the Ohio Floodplain Management Program and was Ohio’s State Hazard Mitigation Officer. He was involved in creating/administering the Appalachian Flood Risk Reduction Initiative, administered the Community Assistance Program, authored a comprehensive revision of the model state floodplain management regulations, oversaw state hazard mitigation operations in three Federally declared flood disasters and authored the 2008 update of Ohio’s mitigation plan.  As a local official, Mr. Berginnis administered land use, economic development and floodplain management programs in Perry County, Ohio as well as assisted Perry County communities with their post-disaster floodplain management responsibilities following a major flood.  In the private Sector, Mr. Berginnis was the national Practice Leader in hazard mitigation for Michael Baker Jr. Inc. 

Mr. Berginnis is a recognized national expert in floodplain management and hazard mitigation, having participated on national research / focus groups, providing agency (FEMA, USACE, OMB, CRS, IG, CBO, various states) and Congressional testimony, and was selected to participate on an advisory panel to the Chinese Government on the development of a national floodplain management strategy.  He recently served on a National Academies of Science committee on urban flooding.  Chad is also currently an advisory board member for the Coastal Resilience Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and for the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder.  He is also past Insurance Committee Chair, Mitigation Policy Committees’ Coordinator, Vice Chair, and Chair of ASFPM   Mr. Berginnis holds a Bachelor of Science in natural resources from Ohio State University and is a Certified Floodplain Manager. 

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Key Dates

Abstracts Open: Available Now
Closing Date for Abstracts:
27th November 2020
Registration Available:  January 2021
Presenter Notifications:  29th January 2021
Peer Review Submission Deadline:
19th March 2021
Early & Author Registration Deadline:
16th April 2021
Full Paper Submission (not being peer reviewed): 30th April 2021

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