Monday, May 19, 2014

Australian Emergency Management Institute Moving On-line

One measure in the Australian Government's 2014/15 Budget was "Transitioning the Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI) into a 'virtual' institute". There has been some criticism of the change, but in the process the AEMI may be able to improve its service by providing better access to training though online courses.

The role of the AEMI is management training. It is not about how to hold a fire hose, but plan for and coordinate operations, using people, computers and telecommunications. They even have a course to "Develop and use political nous". ;-)

Most such management training is by face-to-face classes, which can be replaced with e-learning, using software such as Moodle. This is commonly done at other such Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

Some training may be by role playing a scenario. I have been a student of such an exercise at the Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra. On a large screen we had maps of a fictional country, we each played roles as senior military and government officials and were handed "signals" to react to (low technology bits of paper).

One obvious way to do this for disaster management training is to have the trainees in their own offices around Australia and use the same telecommunications as for a real emergency, to link those to the Canberra training centre. Trainees would then play roles for the scenario (with "Exercise Only" displayed on all screens).

But such exercises only form a small part of training and most will be just normal classes, which can be delivered online (I design and deliver such courses under contract to Higher Education institutions).

AETI currently charges $13,500 for a Diploma, or $1,500 per course. It will be interesting to see if this increases with the deregulation of Higher Education fees.

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