Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

Exploring the dynamics of interoperability before, during and after crises.

Saturday 15th September 2018

Friday 14th optional pre-symposium dinner & accommodation

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

This year, NIODA’s Annual Symposium will explore how leaders and managers in the emergency and trauma sectors can improve interoperability and collaboration within and between organisations.

The study of organisation dynamics explores conscious and unconscious drivers which shape the way we work together. Unconscious behaviours are at play in every group or team and are constantly changing. With better insight, leaders can achieve organisational goals and better care for their people.

The Symposium will bring together those who research and specialise in organisation and inter-organisation dynamics with those who lead and manage teams in the emergency and trauma sectors, to explore the dynamics of interoperability together. Relevant research and helpful frameworks to ‘see’ these dynamics and attend to them will be shared.

Speakers and panel members include:

Associate Professor Christine Owen,

University of Tasmania

Christine Owen is currently an Associate Professor and Research Fellow in emergency management with the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies [TILES] at the University of Tasmania.  Christine researches and facilitates professional development in the areas of human factors and organisational culture, decision making under pressure, debriefing, leadership and adversity as well as coaching and mentoring

Dr. Rob Gordon,

Clinical Psychologist

Rob Gordon PhD is a clinical psychologist and group psychotherapist who has worked with disaster affected communities throughout Australia and New Zealand for thirty years.  Rob also provides services to a wide range of health, welfare and other human service agencies for workplace stress and trauma. 

Deb Martindale,


Deb Martindale has worked extensively with emergency management and policing organisations. Deb uses a systems and organisation dynamics lens in her work. She has a particular interest in working with inter-organisation dynamics.

Details of all papers to be presented available soon…

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

15 September 2018, 9am – 4:30pm from $260 in Mt Macedon, Victoria.  Don’t miss out!

Further Insight

Interested? Some of the concepts that have inspired this Leading & Managing in the Emergency & Trauma Sectors Symposium are introduced below.

Interoperability and inter-organisation dynamics

Interoperability refers to the capacity of different groups to work together. It requires high levels of communication and collaboration, but even with effective protocols and good intent, it can be very challenging. Research shows that collaboration requires a number of features, including but not limited to:

  • identification with the purpose, tasks and values of the multiparty team;
  • highly functioning communications;
  • mutual understanding of different roles and organisational cultures;
  • respect and trust;
  • structural, cultural and resource support for collaborative commitment;
  • well-designed processes;
  • rewards for collaboration and constraints to mitigate ‘slippage’; and
  • clear and competent leadership with skill in emotional intelligence.

However, even with these practical elements in place a deeper understanding about what really holds teams back or diverts them from their task can be gained. Why do teams, even with all of the above in place, still sometimes stall or seem to lack the necessary energy to make an impact? 

Cohesion typically experienced during response phases can be hard to sustain

In response to an event or crisis, teams typically unite against a common ‘enemy’ (the event). In these scenarios, there is often a higher acceptance for authorised leadership, and confidence can be found in well-defined roles and agreed processes. The structure of the ‘system’ creates a sense of safety.

Beyond response mode, individuals, teams and organisations tend to withdraw for respite into their own familiar territories and ways of working, communication is experienced as harder to maintain, and the rewards for collaboration become less immediate and evident. This respite is an important form of recovery, however ideally, should not close-down interoperability.

Further, while response systems and roles are very well defined, and organisations are sensibly trained and prepared, this is not always as true for ‘before’ and ‘after’ activities. Here, the mission can be harder to clearly envisage, roles become increasingly vague, and there are many competing distractions. How can we explore these dynamics and better work with this reality?

Resistance to change, and leading sector reform

In order to change, people must first feel secure. Providing an environment in which people can better tolerate difficulties, risks, or anxieties is a necessary factor to successful change. When thoughts or emotions cannot be contained, some predictable behaviours emerge in organisations.

For example, when a team’s identity or the scope of their task is unclear, conflict between groups can emerge, with a ‘them and us’ rather than a ‘we’ mentality. This can occur between organisations, or between sub-systems and teams within an organisation.

Other group behaviours resisting change are common, ranging from apathy and absence to unexpected emotion or territorial behaviour. These ‘social defences’ have been well researched and look beyond how individuals react, instead focusing on how whole systems work unconsciously to defend against change or risk. The important news is that once social defences are explored and recognised, the work of an organisation can continue more productively.

Prevention, response and recovery activities are all equally important aspects in emergency management and trauma. It is the resilience and sustainability of organisations, and their ability to work well together in each of these phases that will lead to even greater capacity and ultimately, safer outcomes for communities.

Partners of attendees

Partners are welcome to attend the dinner and stay on the Friday evening as accommodation is in double rooms with an ensuite.  On the Saturday partners can enjoy the on-site 10 acres of the beautiful gardens, take a short drive to the historic townships of Kyneton, Woodend, Malmsbury or Trentham or visit the fine local wineries in the Macedon region. The area is known for fine food, interesting shopping and historic sites.

When & Where

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium


Saturday 15th September 2018
Optional dinner & accommodation Friday 14th


9am – 4:30 pm


Victorian Emergency Management Institute
601 Mount Macedon Road, Mount Macedon, Victoria  3441


The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations. In 2018, their annual Symposium will explore the dynamics of interoperability and work within the emergency and trauma sectors.

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

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