Blue Shield Australia and special guest speakers mark International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction with webinar

13 October each year is the time for all Australian GLAM institutions and Heritage  Places and Historical Societies to prepare for the coming disaster season  

This year Blue Shield Australia will host a webinar with special guests President IIC and Director of ICS Dr Julian Bickerstaff, President of AICCM Alice Cannon, joined by President of Blue Shield Australia, Dr Mat Trinca and BSA Secretary Ms Linda Byrne.

Mat Trinca will reflect on the role of Blue Shield in response to threats to cultural heritage and discuss the Sendai Framework in the context of the Australian season ahead.  Linda Byrne will provide some practical advice on building up your disaster preparedness.   Julian Bickersteth will discuss learnings from the Lismore floods and responding to climate change related disasters. Alice Cannon will talk about the AICCM Disaster Preparedness Calendar and resources for disaster preparation, response and recovery.

There will be a live Q&A session and all participants will be offered an AICCM Disaster Preparedness Calendar.

To attend this special event, click REGISTER

University of Tasmania International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction – Future proofing collections

Blue Shield Australia are proud to support UTAS for this IDDRR Event

How can embracing sustainable art and design practices influence future resilience in cultural organisations?

Join University of Tasmania for a forum that considers how sustainability is reshaping art and design practice and what this means for how communities collect and celebrate cultural objects.

Hosted by UTAS Director Curatorial and Cultural Collections, Caine Chennatt, and featuring international guest speakers and panel discussions, we will hear about projects and practical examples that challenge the status quo and inspire new thinking.

10am, 13 October  (International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction)

Register for this event at Future-proofing collections – Events | University of Tasmania


Disaster Preparedness and Cultural Heritage Workshops Adelaide 2022

Workshops raising awareness of disaster preparedness and response for heritage collections including digitisation and digital collections will be held in Adelaide on 13th October 2022.   Register now  via this link

Partnering with Blue Shield Australia, cultural institutions, professional associations and supported by the State Library of South Australia and the History Trust of South Australia, these workshops are designed to raise awareness in the cultural heritage community about steps you can take to ensure your collections are cared for into the future.

13 October of each year is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, which promotes a global culture of risk awareness, disaster preparedness and disaster reduction. Australia has experienced significant natural disasters which have affected cultural heritage and collections. As we approach the 2022-2023 Australian disaster season it is timely to reflect and look at what we can practically put in place to safe guard our collections into the future.

Disaster Risk Management for Heritage DRM4H 2022

Disaster Risk Management for Heritage (DRM4H) by Annette Mills, BSA Secretary

Blue Shield Australia members and members of AICOMOS (ANZCORP) recently led training in an integrated approach to Disaster Risk Management for Heritage (DRM4H).

The training program held in July 2022 was developed and led by Dr Ania Kortaba (Flinders University and ANZCORP[1] member) and Catherine Forbes (Convenor of AICOMOS ANZCORP, Blue Shield Australia Committee member and principal architect at GML Heritage).

The program was delivered both in person and online and attracted 140 participants, from across Australia, New Zealand and the near Pacific, and from different disciplines including architects, engineers, archaeologists, librarians, and conservators.

The inter-disciplinary and multi-hazard approach to DRM4H sought to consider all aspects of cultural heritage: the landscape, the place, the buildings, and the collections. Each aspect is interdependent in a risk management context.

The training program consisted of two days of theory hosted by Flinders University, with the third supported and hosted by the State Library of South Australia. This was an opportunity where participants could use the State Library, its buildings and collections as a case study, to practically apply the theory to a site that presents complex cultural heritage elements and context.  Ania and Catherine are planning similar field days for Wellington NZ and Blue Mountains NSW.

The generosity of colleagues and practitioners who participated in the program, sharing their insights, and learning from their cultural heritage disaster experiences and contexts, was extremely valuable and enriched the theory.  I think I can safely say that we all came away with a stronger understanding of how important it is to invest in disaster prevention, invest time in understanding the complex relationships that exist in our DRM4H context, and a renewed understanding about how multifaceted and interconnected our heritage places and collections are.

Image: DRM4H participants at the State Library of South Australia (image credit Ania Kotarba)

[1] Australia New Zealand Committee on Risk Preparedness

Flooding in NSW July 2022

11 July 2022

We’ve seen dangerous and damaging rain and floods again in New South Wales in the past two weeks.  We know that many communities have now had compounding and multiple disasters these last few years and will be again beginning the process of recovery. Resilience NSW and many other agencies are again working hard on community recovery.

We again provide links to our Blue Shield Australia resources and links to help with personal collection salvage and organisational recovery.  While we have received reports of a number of libraries and heritage buildings being affected by water leaks etc, we have not received any further reports at this stage.

This year the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction released the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction – the GAR2022 Report .  “If current trends continue, the number of significant disasters per year globally may increase from around 400 in 2015 to 560 per year by 2030 – a projected increase of 40% during the lifetime of the Sendai Framework.”

We can all play our part to #StopTheSpiral and contribute to being more prepared for natural disasters, within our organisations and in our personal lives.  This short UNDRR video highlights this need.

We encourage you to look through the Blue Shield Australia resources and planning documents, and make time to undertake preparatory tasks within your cultural heritage sites and organisations and join with others in your local region to ‘get prepared’.

If you’d like to get in contact with Blue Shield Australia you can email us at info @

                     Kathryn Dan,  BSA Chair, 2021-2023

Mental health and wellbeing is also important in disaster recovery

News reports bring us pictures of the physical impacts of disasters like floods and fires as well as stories of the immediate social and emotional effects. The emotional impact and effects to mental health are not always as obvious as the water, mud or ash, and they can be long-lasting. Resources are available to understand and work with recovery in mental health and well-being either through government disaster response resources or specialised mental health organisations:

Queensland Government

Black Dog Institute

Beyond Blue

Lismore Gallery and Library – Flood Update – 14 March 2022

As Elly Bird, Resilient Lismore Co-ordinator talked about in her ABC Radio and ABC TV News video  Interviews [7 March 2022], Lismore and surrounds are currently a heavily impacted region with thousands of displaced people with no homes or transportation.  All deliveries are challenging, and there is limited warehouse storage for any donations.  Many locations are still in the early damage assessment stages, and this will be a constantly changing situation. Elly asks us to be mindful with our donations during this time.

Blue Shield Australia and its Member Associations strongly recommend giving only financial donations during the initial phase after a disaster.   Experiences from all previous Australian natural disaster recovery efforts indicate that in the immediate aftermath of a disaster event, physical donations of books, furniture, artwork and stationery supplies often end up in storage for a long period of time.

We know that many people across Australia are wanting to help.  We encourage our Association members and colleagues, and members of the general public, to focus on providing financial donations at this time.  AICCM also has a limited number of $1,000 grants for conservators to help triage, salvage and document small public collections. Updates via the AICCM Facebook.

There is an Online Auction taking place for books, artworks and creative services during March and April 2022 with proceeds going to the restoration of Lismore — to the libraries, galleries, and other cultural and community groups who need our support.  The State Library of NSW and The BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival are hosting an event ‘Crime Writers for Lismore Library’ on 1st April 2022 with all proceeds going to the Lismore Library Recovery Fund.

You can make a financial donation to the Lismore Regional Gallery via this website with updates on the recent visit by conservators (and BSA Committee members) via the gallery Facebook page.

Monetary donations can be made directly to the Richmond Tweed Regional Library gift account: Account Name : Lismore City Council – RTRL Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Account              BSB 062-565  | Account Number 10864916     Please send an email to Amanda Binney (Management Accountant) at the time of any donations being made with the following information:-  Name, Address, Date of deposit, Amount of deposit.  RTRL will provide a Tax Deductible Receipt. This may take a little while to get out based on resources.

For those currently unaffected by natural disasters, the Australian Red Cross has a list of 50 Ways to Do More Good and how to donate.   You can also take the time to contact your local GLAM colleagues and get together to start to discuss your own local and regional cultural heritage disaster plan and network.

Flooding in Eastern Australia

Our thoughts are with everyone dealing with flooding and water damage in New South Wales and Queensland.

If your gallery, library, archive, museum or local history site has been impacted by flooding or water damage, please see the following resources for assistance:

To assist Blue Shield Australia to understand the magnitude of the flooding event, please contact Blue Shield Australia if you are impacted. Also remember to contact your relevant BSA Member Association.

If you’re not currently impacted, don’t forget to prepare for a disaster. Have you got your AICCM  Disaster Preparedness Calendar to help with planning and preparations?  The Blue Shield Australia website also has a range of Disaster Planning Resources

Burning Country: Aboriginal fire practice in Caring for Country

Wednesday 13 October 2021, noon Sydney time
Duration: 75-90 minutes

In light of the massive bushfires that we have experienced over recent years both here in Australia and globally, it seems appropriate that we consider the role of burning in caring for, managing, nurturing and sustaining country to maintain its health and resilience, and its capacity to resist and recover from wildfires brought about by climate change and poor land management.

Indigenous fire practice is a key aspect of caring for country and very important to maintaining cultural connections to place. In the face of climate change and other threats, caring for country practices, including fire practice, contain answers to the healing damaged landscapes and addressing climate change. Through community engagement and empowerment, burning country can also provide Aboriginal communities with economic opportunities.

NAILSMA is a major landowner in the Northern Territory of Australia, where burning of savannah country is used to generate carbon credits and provide economic benefits to the community. Ricky Archer will discuss how, while the application of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) provides solutions and opportunities, barriers remain. In 2020, NAILSMA partnered with the CSIRO in the publication of the Our Knowledge our Way Guidelines for meaningful and respectful engagement between non-Indigenous researchers and Indigenous communities involved in research projects.

Victor Steffensen, author of the book Fire Country, will describe his experience of learning about fire from elders on his country in northern Queensland, the importance of understanding and ‘reading’ the country, the importance of passing knowledge on to communities, the importance of implementing knowledge via action, and the benefits to the community of participating in that action.

Please register at:

25 Years of Blue Shield

One of the strengths of the initiative of the Blue Shield is that although it is principally oriented toward the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict it does have an important role in mitigating and managing disasters …. I think that’s one of the aspects that makes it a truly international initiative and of universal appeal…. In moments of natural disaster the same need for cooperation exists and such cooperation results in the same benefits. – George McKenzie, Founder –  

OUR ANNIVERSARY  — What is the Blue Shield?
25 years ago, four international heritage organisations recognised the need for greater cooperation to protect cultural heritage at risk from conflict and disaster: the International Council on Archives (ICA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Together, on 6 June in 1996, they founded the
International Committee of the Blue Shield, with a vision for national committees across the world. Today simply called the Blue Shield, it is:
“committed to the protection of the world’s cultural property, and is concerned with the protection of cultural and natural heritage, tangible and intangible, in the event of armed conflict, natural- or human-made disaster.” (Articles of Association 2.1 2016)
Often referred to as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross, the Blue Shield is a non-governmental, non-profit, international organisation, working to protect museums, galleries, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries and audio-visual material, and significant natural areas, as well as intangible heritage. It is composed of national committees operating across the world, coordinated by an International Board. Members include the founding organisations, governments, emergency services, armed forces, academics, and all those with responsibility for heritage protection in crisis.
We found our work in key international frameworks and law, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and in particular the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which designates our namesake – the distinctive blue shield emblem signifying cultural property protected in conflict. This landmark legislation was followed in 1999 by a Second Protocol, which recognises the Blue Shield as an official advisory body to the international Committee
for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (article 27.3).
This year we are celebrating our 25th anniversary. Blue Shield has 28 national committees and more beginning to be established. However, we are an almost entirely voluntary, including the National Committee members.  Blue Shield International is a largely unfunded organisation, supported primarily by Newcastle University in the UK. Despite that, we continue to grow. We have signed key agreements with the ICRC, NATO, and others, and are advocating for heritage protection at national and international levels.  As heritage continues to be threatened by crises around the world, the Blue Shield stands ready to assist.

Blue Shield Australia, established in 2005, is proud to be a long-standing ongoing National Committee of Blue Shield.  Thank you to all the volunteers who have contributed these past 25 years.