2017 AUSA Conference

Keynote Presenters


Olivia McTaggart presenter photoOlivia McTaggart

Tasmanian Coroner

Olivia McTaggart was appointed as a magistrate and coroner in February 2005. Prior to this appointment she was an experienced civil and criminal lawyer in private practice and then at the Independent Bar.

In her practice as a civil lawyer Coroner McTaggart dealt, among other matters, with personal injuries, industrial accidents and medical negligence cases. As a Coroner, skills obtained in private practice have been utilized in her capacity as a Coroner investigating a wide array of deaths and holding inquests into various deaths.

Coroner McTaggart presided over general Magistrate’s Court lists for a period of nine years and also undertook a significant work load as a Coroner during that period.

Coroner McTaggart took a special interest in infant and child deaths, which has subsequently improved safe sleeping information relayed to parents of newborn infant children by health care professionals.

After a major review of the coronial system was undertaken in 2013 a decision was made to streamline the coronial jurisdiction in Tasmania. Magistrate McTaggart was delegated the Chief Magistrate’s responsibilities under the Coroners Act 1995. Coroner McTaggart has now taken up full time coronial duties and is responsible for the coronial division and the strategic direction following the review.

A number of Coroner McTaggart’s findings and recommendations may be found on the Magistrates Court Website.

Ketnote address: Workplace Injury Prevention: A Coroner’s perspective


Prof Niki Ellis presenter photoProfessor Niki Ellis

Professor Niki Ellis is an occupational and public health physician.

During her career she has spent ten years in government, ten years in the private sector and ten years in academia.

She was the foundation Professor and CEO for the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research at Monash and also set up the Centre for Military and Veterans’ Health at the University of Queensland. She was the Inaugural President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Health in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

She built up a consultancy business on the Eastern seaboard of Australia which she sold to PricewaterhouseCoopers. She began her career in occupational and public health in her home state of Tasmania. Throughout her career Niki has been interested in the intersection of workplace health and safety and public health and she is pleased to see this becoming more explicit as a new integrated approach to worker health emerges.

Psychosocial and musculoskeletal health have been constant themes in Niki’s work. In 2008 she was the presenter and co-developer of an ABC series Stressbuster.

Keynote address: Integrated Mentally Healthy Workplace – a strategic approach


Prof Andrew Hopkins presenter photoProfessor Andrew Hopkins

Andrew Hopkins is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Australian National University in Canberra.

He was an expert witness at the Royal Commission into the 1998 Exxon gas plant explosion near Melbourne. He was a consultant to the US Chemical Safety Board in its investigation of the BP Texas City Refinery disaster of 2005, and also for its investigation into the .BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010. He has written books about all these accidents. More than 90,000 copies of his books have been sold.

He has been involved in various government WHS reviews and has done consultancy work for major companies in the resources sector, as well as for Defence. He speaks regularly to audiences around the world about the causes of major accidents.

He has a BSc and an MA from the Australian National University, a PhD from the University of Connecticut and is a Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia.

He was the winner of the 2008 European Process Safety Centre safety award, the first in time it was awarded to someone outside Europe.

He is an honorary fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers in recognition of his “outstanding contributions to process safety and to the analysis of process safety related incidents”.

Books by Professor Hopkins:

  • Crime Law and Business: The Sociological Sources of Australian Monopoly Law (Australian Institute of Criminology, 1978)
  • Working for Change: The Movement Against Domestic Violence. With Heather McGregor (Allen and Unwin, 1991)
  • Making Safety Work (Allen & Unwin, 1995)
  • Managing Major Hazards: The Moura Mine Disaster, (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
  • Lessons from Longford: The Esso Gas Plant Explosion (CCH, 2000)
  • Lessons from Longford: The Trial. (CCH, 2002)
  • Safety, Culture and Risk (CCH, 2005)
  • Lessons from Gretley: Mindful Leadership and the Law, (CCH, 2007)
  • Learning from High Reliability Organisations (CCH, 2009). Edited
  • Failure to Learn: the BP Texas City Refinery Disaster (CCH, 2008)
  • Disastrous Decisions: The Human and Organisational Causes of the Gulf of Mexico Blowout (CCH, 2012)
  • Nightmare Pipeline Failures: Fantasy planning, black swans and integrity management. (CCH 2014) With Jan Hayes
  • Risky Rewards: The Effect of Company Bonuses on Safety (Ashgate, London, 2015). With Sarah Maslen
  • Quiet Outrage: The Way of a Sociologist (CCH: Sydney, 2016)

Keynote address: Operational Excellence


Dr Carl Gibson presenter photoDr Carl A. Gibson

Dr Carl Gibson is a Director of Executive Impact, a firm specialising in business transformation, risk, resilience, emergency and crisis management services, and has worked with organisations in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and North America. He has been a senior executive in government, not-for-profit, academic and corporate sectors. He is a former British Army Officer, and served within New Scotland Yard’s Special Operations Directorate.

Carl is a respected researcher with over 90 publications, in books, journals and scientific papers: covering fields such as infectious diseases, neuropsychology, safety, security, resilience, risk and emergency management. He is the lead or contributing author on a number of Australian and International Standards including: Risk Management; Security Risk Management; Critical Infrastructure Emergency Risk Management; Business Continuity; Disruption-Related Risk; Fraud and Corruption Control; ISO Standards in emergency management, resilience, exercising, and business continuity; the US Standard for Disasters and Emergencies; and the Singaporean Standard for Business Continuity. He has recently published in books on disaster health and the neuropsychology of professional development. He has just completed a book on the design, development and conduct of emergency and critical incident exercising, training and assessment for tertiary education. He is now working on new books on critical incident management, and on working in remote, complex and hostile environments. He is also developing new Standards publications in risk, security, fraud and corruption, and emergency response; and research papers on resilience, and on the failure of leadership.

Some of the outcomes of his research have been adopted in legislation and are included in State and national disaster resilience strategies and frameworks, as well as several Standards publications within Australia and internationally. Carl has developed a number of new approaches for evaluating criticality and vulnerability within critical infrastructure, which are now in use in banking, water, energy, health, transport and emergency management sectors.

Carl was awarded the Emergency Services Foundation Scholarship for work on the neuropsychology of decision making and safety in high risk environments. As part of this, he worked on US first responder fatality investigations and on deployment with the US Inter Agency Joint Operations Centre. He has contributed to the development of serious incident investigation methodologies, new approaches for front line safety management, and workforce resilience and stress management strategies for the US Government.

He holds current positions as the Chair of the Australian Fraud and Corruption Control Standards Committee; Chair of the Australian Standards Subcommittee on Management of Disruption-Related Risk and is a member of the ISO Working Groups for Integrity and Authenticity, and for Resilience; Australian Standards Committees for: Risk Management; Security and Resilience; and for Emergency Planning. He was a founding member of the National Security Standards Board, and is a former Head of the Australian Delegation to the international committee for Societal Security. He is also a member of the Australian Neuroscience Society.

Carl is a certified ETAC Practitioner (techniques in evaluating truth and credibility used by the FBI) and is an advocate for the application of neuropsychology principles to major investigations. Carl’s current research interests include the basis of organisational failure and resilience, the pathology of major crises and disasters, and the neuropsychology of decision making, particularly relating to loss of attention, bias, misinterpretation, loss of situational awareness and deception.

Keynote address: Using the brain in thinking..... safely


Greg Smith presenter photoGreg Smith

Greg is an international award winning author and qualified lawyer who has spent more than two decades specialising in safety and health management. Greg works with clients helping them to understand their responsibility for safety and health, and develop processes to discharge those responsibilities.

In addition to being a lawyer, Greg has worked as the Principal Safety Advisor for a major oil and gas company and teaches at Curtin University in Western Australia.

Greg is the author of the book, Management Obligations for Safety and Health, co-author of the book, Risky Conversations: The Law, Social Phycology and Risk and the editor of the book Contractor Safety Management, which won the 2014 World Safety Organisation’ Educational Award.

Keynote address: Health and safety performance indicators: Measuring activity, providing assurance or undermining safety


Paul Taylor presenter photoDr Paul Talyor

Paul Taylor is the Director, Occupational Hygiene Policy at Safe Work Australia.

Paul completed his PhD in Chemical Technology at the University of South Australia in 2001. He worked as a chemist in the industrial gases, and agricultural & veterinary chemicals sectors before moving to Canberra to join the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

Paul joined Safe Work Australia’s Research team in 2008, and then worked on the policy unpinning the model Work Health and Safety regulations for asbestos.

The Occupational Hygiene Policy team Paul leads is responsible for model Work Health and Safety regulations hazardous chemicals, major hazard facilities, asbestos, noise, inorganic lead, health monitoring and workplace exposure standards.

Keynote address: Workplace exposure standards, a risk based approach to chemical storage, safe design and handling research chemicals.


Martin Boyle presenter photoMartin Boyle

Martin Boyle coordinates field operations, crisis management and emergency response for the Australian Antarctic Division where he has worked for the past 9 years. Martin has a strong background in safety management and was recently seconded to the role of WHS Manager during the 2016/17 Antarctic summer season. He has been south on many occasions in various leadership and management positions.

Martin has twenty years of experience across the emergency management industry in both private and public sector as a consultant, emergency services manager, search and rescue operator, operations coordinator, and international delegate. He has previously worked for Australian Customs and Border Protection and the Tasmania State Emergency Service where in 2006 he was involved in the Beaconsfield mine disaster.

He was awarded a Certificate of High Commendation for Search & Rescue operations in 2002 from Tasmania Police, and the Bravo Zulu award in 2015 from the International Association of Emergency Managers.

Martin is an internationally recognised Certified Emergency Manager®, Certified Practicing Project Manager, holds a Masters in Emergency Management, Advanced Diploma in Public Safety and Diploma of the Business Continuity Institute.

Martin is also the Chair of the Australian New Zealand Search and Rescue conference, the Search and Rescue blog Editor for Crisis Response Journal, and a member of the Australian Tsunami Advisory Group (ATAG).

Keynote address: Safety Leadership and Risk Management in the Antarctica Environment.