Improving global prehospital and emergency medicine, public health, and disaster health care and preparedness

Oceania Chapter

In November 2008, the WADEM Oceania Chapter was launched. The launching of the Chapter was the culmination of years of effort by members Dr. Frederick Burkle, Prof. Frank Archer, and Prof. Paul Arbon.

The Oceania Chapter region generally corresponds to that area covered by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), which includes the area supported by AusAID and NZAID (ex., Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Island Nations, and Papua New Guinea). The Chapter’s boundaries are not overly rigid, and members residing in adjacent countries or islands, including East Timor, Indonesia, and the Hawaiian Islands, may participate in the Chapter.

The Oceania region is exposed to significant natural hazards that result in disaster impact on communities, including volcanoes, cyclones, storms, floods, earthquakes, and bushfire, with the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami having a broad impact across countries in both the Oceania and Southeast Asian regions. The capacity and capability of disaster risk reduction varies across the Oceania region; notwithstanding this, formal and informal arrangements exist between countries and communities to support each other.

Statement of Purpose

The Oceania Chapter aims to advocate and promote the development and improvement of disaster and emergency health care through research, development, and application of standards and guidelines and to influence emergency management and health care policy, education, and practice. The Chapter will foster WADEM within Oceania by providing regional coordination and regional influence.

The aims of the Chapter are to implement the objectives of WADEM within the Oceania Region as applicable to the resources and needs of the Region. Members of the Chapter possess a region-specific knowledge base of disasters and their prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery requirements. The Chapter provides a means to advocate for ensuring that region‐specific disaster requirements are being properly understood and addressed.


The objectives of the Chapter are to promote:

  • Education and training opportunities to advance the professionalism of the humanitarian workforce;
  • Interpretation and exchange of information through a network of members and publications;
  • Development and maintenance of evidence-based standards of emergency and disaster health care and provision of leadership for integration into practice;
  • Coordination of data collection and provision of direction in the development of standardized disaster assessment and research/evaluation methodologies;
  • Encouragement of publications and presentation of evidence‐based research findings in scientific publications, national, regional, and international conferences and congresses;
  • Increased credibility for the members of the organization on a global, national, and local level;
  • Increased membership and promotion of WADEM; and
  • Ongoing development and improvement of emergency and disaster health management in the community.

Oceania Chapter Leadership

Chair: Joe Cuthbertson

Committee Members: Penny Burns, Rowena Christiansen, Vivienne Tippett

Check out the Oceania Chapter Podcasts!

In this podcast, Oceania Chapter Chair Joe Cuthbertson chats with Professor Alison Hutton on mass gathering medicine and harm prevention and the role of the health care worker.

Oceania Chapter Chair, Joe Cuthbertson, interviews Dr. Penny Burns on the role of general practitioners in disasters; how general practice has been engaged in disaster management in Australia, Oceania, and internationally; and her journey researching primary health care in disasters.

Oceania Chapter Chair, Joe Cuthbertson, interviews Dr. Erin Smith from Edith Cowan University about her journey researching the psychosocial impacts of disaster.