ACMC host Search and Rescue Lessons Learned Seminar in Sydney

24 Sep 2015

Delivering on it’s mandate to promote whole-of-government cooperation in response to complex disasters and emergencies, the Australian Civil-Military Centre has successfully hosted the East Asia Summit (EAS) Rapid Disaster Response: Search and Rescue (SAR) Lessons Learned Seminar in Sydney from 21 – 23 September.

The seminar was co-chaired by Ms Jane Duke, Assistant Secretary, South-East Asia Region Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ms Phasporn Sangasubana, Deputy Director-General of the Department of ASEAN Affairs from the Kingdom of Thailand. (Co-Chairs pictured above with co-facilitators and Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d).

The EAS SAR seminar considered the challenges of coordinating complex search and rescue operations in response to mass-casualty aviation, maritime and natural disasters by drawing on the experiences of the 15 EAS member states represented at the SAR seminar. The seminar focused on search and rescue operations requiring interagency and international coordination and cooperation, particularly those with joint civilian and military contributions.

Lessons learned from recent international search and rescue operations, including the ongoing search for MH370, were discussed as case studies during the seminar.

Executive Director of the ACMC, Dr Alan Ryan co-facilitated the seminar with Emeritus Professor at the University of NSW Professor Carlyle Thayer. Dr Ryan said the Indo-Pacific region was the most prone to natural disasters in the world.

“In recent years we have witnessed large-scale disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Typhoon Haiyan. We have also seen tragic events like the loss of MH370,” he said.

“Sharing good practices and lessons learned by East Asia Summit members will help to prepare for future disaster events and strengthen regional cooperation and capacities.”

Keynote speakers included the leader of Australia’s search efforts for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d); and the head of Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency, Air Marshal Bambang Soelistyo, who led the recovery of Air Asia QZ 8501. Senior speakers from Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines presented case studies on their experiences in leading search and rescue efforts after the 2004 tsunami and Typhoon Haiyan.

Draft recommendations to formalise and strengthen cooperation among EAS members when responding to emergency situations that focus on improving regional preparedness, communication responses and capacity building are currently under consideration by EAS Senior Officials ahead of the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Meeting in November.

The official SAR seminar program, discussion paper, presentations and photo gallery can be accessed using the below links.

EAS SAR Program
EAS SAR Discussion Paper
Co-chairs Summary Report and Recommendations
Opening and Closing Remarks by the Australia Co-chair
Introductory Remarks by the Thai Co-chair
Closing Remarks by the Thai Co-chair
EAS SAR photo gallery
Media Release

For further information please contact Ms Judy Swann, Director Civil-Military Concepts and Capability at