Reimagining Resilience Speaker Series: ‘leading the conversation on resilience’



Date:                         8 December 2015 (Tuesday)

Time:                         11:00pm – 1:00pm

Venue:                      University of Technology Sydney, Sydney

Booking:                   Essential (tickets are limited) via Eventbrite

Refreshments:          Light Lunch provided


Why Reimagining Resilience

Disruptions are not new. But in our hyper-connected world, disruptions have acquired a new relevance; they’re now a key feature of our lives. Some disruptions immediately trigger a recovery process. Others trigger more adaptive processes.

Natural disasters generate a special kind of disruption. The disruption associated with a natural disaster lasts longer. Recovery can take more than 10 years. There may be several disasters that ‘roll over’, one on top of the other, as seen recently in Nepal when a second damaging earthquake was experienced only days after the first.

Oftentimes disruptions can come from multiple sources/events and can form an entangled web of complex circumstances which may include a combination of natural disaster as well as human induced such as cyber-attack on a business or other institutions.

Natural disasters increasingly tend to have a knock-on effect that reaches far beyond the area of immediate impact. The damage to nuclear power plants from the Fukushima tsunami in March 2013 resulted in an impact far beyond the tsunami itself. This type of disruption renders traditional notions of disaster management almost irrelevant. In a world where there are on average 2-3 disasters per day, this is particularly important.

Disruption is the new normal. Cultivating our resilience will give towns, cities, countries, businesses, indeed all of us, the edge to survive and more importantly prosper in a world dominated by the unknown and the improbable. Now is the time to extend our discourse on disasters beyond Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery, to Resilience. Resilience has increasingly proven to be the best possible answer to the relentless level of disruption brought on by natural disasters.

Why the Speaker Series

The Global Resilience Collaborative has created a platform for trans-disciplinary dialogue, learning and innovation that will lead to new ways of thinking about resilience.  The GRC firmly believes in the power of conversation; particularly the kind of conversation where every participant is a valued contributor. Lived experience, knowledge, ideas, information, relationships all matter. The initiative is designed to create conditions for trans-disciplinary dialogue, learning and innovation that will lead to new ways of thinking about resilience. Our hope is that new ideas will lead to new solutions and projects and programs that will make resilience a genuine value.

With that in mind the Global Resilience Collaborative in collaboration with University of Technology Sydney (UTS) invites you to listen to diverse practitioners and get involved in this transformative conversation. The collaborative style of the series has been carefully modelled to ensure knowledge and ideas can add value to any professional wanting to make their work better informed by the resilience driver.

Confirmed Speakers

Michael Jerks

Michael_JerksAssistant Secretary, Critical Infrastructure and Protective Security Policy

National Security Resilience Policy Division, Attorney-General’s Department

As an Assistant Secretary in the Attorney-General’s Department, Michael Jerks is responsible for leading the Australian Government’s approach to two significant policy areas: critical infrastructure resilience and protective security policy. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary in September 2008, Michael was Director of Major Projects in Critical Infrastructure Protection. In this role Michael was responsible for establishing and managing the Critical Infrastructure Program for Modelling and Analysis (CIPMA) and the Computer Network Vulnerability Assessment (CNVA) program. Before joining the Attorney-General’s Department in 2003, Michael spent nine years as a Senior Manager in the NSW Department of State and Regional Development, and four years as Director of the Standing Committee on State Development, NSW Parliament. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts from Macquarie University and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Sydney.


Dr Asif Gill

Asif Gill is a Certified Enterprise Architect and Senior Lecturer at the School of Software at the University of Technology, Sydney. He specialises in adaptive and resilient enterprise architecture design and implementation. He is result-oriented and experienced author, coach, consultant, educator, researcher, speaker, trainer and thought leader. He is author of a number of academic and industry IT articles including a recent book on “Adaptive Cloud Enterprise Architecture”. He has extensive experience in both agile, non-agile, cloud and non-cloud complex private and public government environments, displaying a deep appreciation of their different perspectives in a number of commercial projects.


Alex Webling

Alex Webling, BSc, BA (Hons), Gdip Comms, GdipEd, ZOP, AARPI.

Alex is deputy chair of Security Professionals Australasia, a Director of Security Professionals Australasia, a member of the Standards Australia Board on Security (MB-025) and Associate of the Australian Risk Policy Institute. He is a registered security professional in the area of Enterprise Security

Alex has been Director Resilience Outcomes Pty Ltd since 2012. Resilience Outcomes is a consultancy specialising in organisational strategy and resilience, identity and information security.

Alex was a senior executive in the Australian Federal Government in national security. He was the foundation Director of the Australian Government computer emergency response team; Developed the Chemicals of Security Concern program; and was Head of Protective Security Policy responsible for launching the revised Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) and the single information classification system for the Australian Government.


Dr Zoran Milosevic

ZoranDr Zoran Milosevic is a specialist IT architect, with skills in enterprise and solution architecture, information architecture, process and policy modelling and real-time analytics. Zoran has worked in a wide variety of complex environments spanning consulting, services, research, standardization and software development. He is renowned for his steady persistence and ability to innovate, motivate, collaborate and deliver.

Dr Milosevic has been involved in a number of large and complex interoperability projects including NEHTA Interoperability Framework and the US NCI Semantic Interoperability project. He has an active role in HL7 standards, serving as a member of HL7 Architecture Board and having led the HL7 SOA Ontology project, involving colleagues from Kaiser Permanente, Infoway Canada and DHS Victoria.


Cai Kjaer

CaiCai Kjaer holds a Master of Law and is a partner/co-founder of Optimice, Australia’s leading Social Network Analysis consulting company. He is an expert in mapping, visualising and improving business relationships using Social Network Analysis as the core diagnostic tool. He has worked with government, private and not-for-profit sectors on projects in Australia and overseas using visualisation techniques to uncover hidden relationship patterns and then develop practical plans to improve these. He has extensive experience in senior consulting, change leadership and implementation roles successfully delivering large scale global projects and business transformations.

Mr Kjaer has been the driving force and lead designer behind:

  • ONA Surveys, a global leading online survey tool for collecting and processing relationship data for visualisation purposes
  • Community Mapper, a community-building social networks tool
  • Company Mapper, an interactive map of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) board room connections
  • Web Mapper, an interactive and dynamic platform for displaying relationship patterns and a core component of Optimice’s service delivery capability.


David Kricker, Reserve Bank of Australia



Jelenko Dragisic

Jelenko is a collaboration strategist and disaster resilience planner. As founder of ROADMENDER, Australia’s first of its kind initiative solely dedicated to the promotion and development of collaboration as a discipline in its own right, Jelenko advocates a view that future enterprises will be critically dependent on their collaborative strategy. The formation of Global Resilience Collaborative (GRC) was borne out of years of observation and analysis that clearly identifies that resilience in a systematic manner is not possible without a collaborative approach involving a broad range of disciplines.

Jelenko has extensive experience across the private, public and not for profit sectors, having has worked in a variety of management roles in organisations such as Australian Red Cross, Griffith University and Volunteering Qld. While CEO of Volunteering Qld, Jelenko designed and implemented Step Up, one of the largest disaster resilience programs in Australia. This award winning program is based on large-scale collaboration, bringing together various levels of government, community organisations, universities and the corporate sector. A significant part of the program was dedicated to Australia’s first resilience building initiative for the business sector.

Jelenko is also founder/editor of, a seven-day a week resilience news, analysis and resource portal focusing on making resilience a recognisable topic for the general population.








Resilient cities -Expanding urban agriculture with collaboration (workshop)

A collaboration between ROADMENDER,Cityfood Growers, Lendlease, Global Resilience Collaborative and Foodconnect will result in an unique workshop focusing on city resilience, urban agriculture and collaboration.

urban ag

Following is an excerpt from the workshop brief:

“Food is a major source of content for prime time TV entertainment. Viewer ratings suggest people love food, love watching food being prepared and love watching it being discussed by chefs and food critics. The popularity of food is not surprising. What may surprise many is that food security is now considered the top concern for global insurance companies. In a recent report Lloyds of London stated that food insecurity is currently the leading cause for concern for virtually every branch of commerce.

It is within this context that the increasing focus on resilience in business, local community, city and society as a whole makes sense to professionals across disciplines.   Along with risk exposure managers and actuaries, it is also the policy makers, economists, politicians, urban planners, architects, researchers, entrepreneurs, health professionals and many others who are seeking to better understand how to integrate emerging data and knowledge to inform their own practice.

Maintaining the relevance of current practice in any of the above fields is largely dependent on how well disruptions, such as factors causing concern for food insecurity, are likely to shape drivers for each profession. Urban planners for instance may find that their work is becoming a keystone for the social, economic and environmental resilience on which our entire society is built.

One of the key facets of a resilient system, such as a business or a city, is its capacity to adapt to disruptive forces. Similarly, built redundancies are an essential factor for a resilient entity. And this is what the emergence of urban agriculture is about: responding to disruption to our way of life by innovating new ways of food production and consumption.”

For more about the workshop follow the link:




How should political leaders behave when natural disaster strikes?

Natural disasters are in the news a lot. Given that we know that on average there are at least two disasters every single day, and that roughly every two weeks disasters involve major evacuations of over 100 000 people, it makes one wonder whether we really pay enough attention to them. The agencies whose core business is disaster response and recovery are busy and often too tired to focus on raising awareness. I have always been particularly intrigued by the way politicians (amongst which there are also genuine leaders) behave in the face of natural disasters. After all, politicians can make a significant impact on raising issues such as resilience to natural disasters. How much interest they have in doing so is a moot point. So, I took a good look at what they tend to do and if there’s a lesson in their behaviour that could make one major thing a priority: disaster resilience!

I would go as far as to argue that political culture is the single biggest obstacle facing Australia and many other nations worldwide right now in terms of our ability to respond to the ongoing disruptions caused by natural disasters and also of ensuring that economic losses are reigned in and recovery is not as protracted. Not the political system as such, but the actual culture surrounding the way political leaders behave.

A good politician will, in most cases, follow the Rockefeller creed: never let a good crisis go to waste. But the diet of PR is addictive. It is also a tricky one to control. When a natural disaster takes place, politicians caught napping pay a high price. Some are ridiculed for years. US President George Bush continues to be a source of satire years after Hurricane Katrina. While he suffered a slump in approval ratings, he is also remembered for his reluctance to set foot in New Orleans after the disaster, preferring, rather, to stay on vacation. This incident even became part of the television drama Treme. Others hear the anger from the public but still ignore it. The Malaysian president famously continued to play golf with President Obama while Malaysians were dealing with one of their largest floods in history. Equally impressive was the failure of the leadership in Myanmar following Cyclone Nargis in 2008, when Senior Gen. Than Shwe refused to allow international aid or media into the country in hope of hiding the devastation and lack of government action. And earlier this year, following the most intense cyclone in the southern Pacific, Cyclone Pam, the President of Vanuatu left his country to attend an overseas conference.

The way politicians behave when a natural disaster strikes is the subject of serious research. As Carnegie Mellon Prof John T Gasper points out, ‘a good performance during a disaster can lead to a significant boost in public approval and actually change outcomes at the ballot box’. So it is not surprising that many politicians actually do well following a natural disaster. Perhaps the most famous example is the former New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Mayor Giuliani’s leadership became a global benchmark for aspiring politicians. Another example is Chris Christy, Republican Governor of New Jersey, who famously ignored the political divide and embraced a good relationship with Democrat President Obama, and showed strong leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In Australia, we’ve seen pollies learn fast from the mistakes of others. Following the south east Queensland floods in 2011, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh gave an emotional speech in which she fought back tears. Every political leader in the country seems to have jumped on that and every disaster that has affected Australia since has been consistent in one way: a quick reaction by political leaders delivering emotion laden speeches to the public. It is now customary for Australian political leaders to get into it before the actual disaster is over. In April this year NSW Premier Mike Baird was on television urging people to head home to avoid being caught in the storm which was to hit Sydney. Premier Baird was active on social media (Twitter) ensuring his strongest possible presence.

The world over, politicians have either done really well, really badly or fallen somewhere in between. Some politicians lose serious political capital after a natural disaster. For instance, Kathleen Blanco, the Democrat Governor of Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit, saw her 70% approval rating before the event fall to 31% within several months. In Japan, Japan’s Prime Minster Naoto Kan resigned only five months after the devastating Fukushima disaster in March 2011, due to pressure which was largely based on criticism of his poor handling of the disaster. ,. Others, however, seem to have learnt some lessons and are far more responsive. Just a few days ago Indonesian President Joko Widodo decided to cut short his visit to the USA and return home to deal with massive forest fires which were causing a major health crisis in his country.

Regardless, whatever their choices have been, these leader have influenced (and continue to influence) what people think of resilience. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that to a significant portion of people, the concept of resilience is only as clear as what their political leaders manage to put out in the simplest of terms. And that is where things become convoluted. Resilience is a very complicated thing and while it can be expressed in a slogan of sorts, real resilience can’t be built unless people grasp the essential fact that we are dealing with a complex problem. Almost everyone can memorise the most famous scientific formula in the words penned by Albert Einstein; E=MC2, but directly proportionately, not too many can actually explain it.

Basically I think that when politicians seek to gain political capital through something which may or may not be a legitimate target for them, we are left unsure whether it is good for the public, especially in relation to resilience. Political entrepreneurialism, plain populism or opportunisms? Hard to tell from a distance, but when better examined one question emerges: is leadership by politicians translating into resilient outcomes measured by better systems, readiness, and changed behaviour by the public? Or, is it simply good politicking and great television?


Note by the author (Jelenko Dragisic):  

The above article is part of my ongoing private research looking at the role of political leadership in developing disaster resilience.