Media release Monday, 19 July 2021
Retirement of Mr Stuart Ellis AM, AFAC CEO
The Board of Directors of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) today announce that our CEO Stuart Ellis AM has made the decision to retire in November 2021. Stuart’s retirement will conclude a highly distinguished and dedicated career spanning 40 years of service to Australia as both a senior executive leader and senior defence officer. Stuart is an experienced leader in the emergency management industry. Following a distinguished 22-year career in the Australian Army and posting as Commanding Officer of the RMC Royal Military College, in 1996 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer/Chief Officer of the South Australian Country Fire Service for five years.
1996 also saw Stuart involved in the Black Hawk Disaster Board of Inquiry. The Board made 79 recommendations, many of which required the Australian Defence Force to implement and adhere to best practice procedures to ensure a safer working environment. In 2002, Stuart established a consultancy company and has been involved in over 20 operational reviews, including the Canberra Bushfires, the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission and the Christchurch Earthquake. In 2012, Stuart was appointed CEO of AFAC.
Stuart’s liaison skills and passion for this project were instrumental in the realisation of this permanent tribute. The National Emergency Services Memorial Wall is a legacy from Stuart’s time as AFAC CEO and one he is indeed extremely proud of. Stuart’s legacy includes winning the tender to establish the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, alongside the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Red Cross. This key organisation develops, maintains and shares knowledge and learning to support a disaster resilient Australia. On a long list of achievements is the growth of the annual AFAC Conference. In June 2015, AFAC and Hannover Fairs Pty Ltd established a joint venture, AFAC Conference P/L. Since then, AFAC has developed a partnership between the AFAC Conference company and INTERSHUTZ, the world’s leading trade fair organisation for the fire and rescue services, civil protection, safety, and security. This annual conference is now an institution in the Australasian and global fire and emergency services events calendar and provides valuable knowledge sharing, innovation and showcasing opportunities. Through his diligence, innovation, care and outstanding leadership Stuart completes his service leaving a very strong National Council and AFAC Secretariat of directors, managers, staff, and stakeholders to continue the successful pursuit of AFAC’s mission and work. An executive search firm will be appointed to assist the Board to identify Stuart’s replacement, with a national search to take place in August. On behalf of all the directors, staff, members and AFAC stakeholders, I offer our most sincere thanks to Stuart for an outstanding job as CEO. His highly professional service has led to a set of outcomes that have established enormous credibility and respect for this organisation and our service to communities. Stuart leaves a tremendous and unparalleled legacy of achievement, having improved the lives of so many. All of us wish Stuart, his wife Jo and their family the best for the future, and a happy and healthy retirement.
Commissioner Paul Baxter QSO
AFAC President and Chair
For and on behalf of the AFAC Board of Directors
During the past 9 years, Stuart has remained passionate about improving the professional standing of fire and emergency personnel and has had a focus on progressing an industry wide, integrated approach to emergency management. He has overseen the organisation’s significant growth and the enhancement of its national and international reputation. In April 2017, Stuart led the establishment of the Champions of Change Fire and Emergency Group, a forum involving Chief Executives, Commissioners and Chief Fire Officers to support diversity and inclusion. Alongside this, Stuart has improved the professionalisation of the industry with the introduction of the Emergency Management Professionalisation Scheme (EMPS), defined national emergency governance and enriched relationships with key government, private, national and international partners and stakeholders. Stuart proposed establishing the Commissioners and Chief Officers Strategic Committee (CCOSC), responsible for national and international resource sharing, and subsequently established the National Resource Sharing Centre to support CCOSC decision making. Through his diplomacy he assisted agreement on the Arrangements for Interstate Assistance (AIA). The AIA provides mutual assistance and unified operational deployments of fire and emergency services personnel across domestic and international borders. In 2015, Stuart initiated National Emergency Memorial Services in Canberra and acknowledging the importance of recognising those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defending the lives and Property of others, he established the National Emergency Services Memorial Wall located adjacent to the National Emergency Service Memorial in Canberra, where the names of those who have perished are inscribed.