20 years on: Science & policy lessons from the 2003 Canberra bushfires

Jointly presented by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering (ATSE) ACT Division and Agriculture & Food Forum

Event details

Wednesday 19 April 2023

12:00pm – 1:30pm AEST




Level 2 Burns Centre Building, 28 National Circuit, Forrest ACT 2603
& online


> Professor Jason Sharples FTSE, UNSW Canberra

> Dr Sally Troy, ACT Multi Hazard Advisory Council

FWI-ACT-20 years on-230419


As we observe the 20th anniversary of the catastrophic 2003 Canberra bushfires this year, join us on Wednesday 19 April from 12pm-1:30pm AEST for the first of our ATSE ACT Division’s 2023 bimonthly hybrid seminars at the ATSE office in Forrest, Canberra. Hear from 2021 ATSE Fellow Professor Jason Sharples FTSE and Chair of the ACT Multi Hazard Advisory Council Dr Sally Troy who will discuss lessons from the 2003 disaster and a recent Council report on bushfire management in the territory in the last 20 years.


Professor Jason Sharples FTSE

Professor of Bushfire Dynamics, UNSW Canberra

Professor Jason Sharples is a mathematical scientist and internationally recognised expert in dynamic bushfire behaviour and extreme bushfire development. His research has extensively influenced policy and practice in Australia and internationally. The recommendations of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfires are framed by Jason’s research. 

Using complex predictive mathematical models, Jason aims to prevent big fires forming by forecasting danger periods and predicting areas where small fires could develop into big ones. He directs several national research projects and contributes to international professional dialogue. A Bundjalung man, Jason says Indigenous Australians have been innovators and scientists for thousands of years, a heritage that can continue today, especially through fire and land management. 

Dr Sally Troy

Chair, ACT Multi Hazard Advisory Council

Dr Sally Troy has more than 30 years’ experience in natural resources management, initially as a scientist and then as a senior executive in Parks Victoria and in the Australian Public Service portfolios of environment and agriculture. Throughout her career, she has focused on the development and use of science and technology for risk-based management, most recently in the arena of plant biosecurity.

She has extensive chairing experience, having led groups responsible for issues ranging from national crisis response, regulatory systems reform, and strategic direction of investment programs, to the provision of expert technical advice. Sally has been a life-long participant in the community and not-for-profit sectors, serving as a volunteer in many roles from frontline services for the disadvantaged, to supporting schools and community sports.

Sally is currently serving as a Director of Vinehealth Australia and a Management Committee member of Woden Valley Soccer Club and has previously served as a Board member of the Victorian National Parks Association, Forrest Primary School and the Environment Defender’s Offices of Tasmania and the ACT.


Dr Helen Cleugh FTSE

Honorary Professor, Institute of Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions, The Australian National University

Dr Helen Cleugh FTSE is an atmospheric scientist with over 30 years’ experience combining research discovery, delivery and leadership in the field of land – air interactions and their effects on weather, climate and hydrology; and water-use and carbon uptake. She remains an active researcher with OzFlux and the WCRP.

Dr Cleugh was the inaugural Director of CSIRO’s Climate Science Centre from 2017 to 2020 and Director of the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub from 2015 – 2017. Both roles were about ensuring that decision-making in Australia is effectively informed by an understanding of Australia’s and future climate. Prior to this she was a senior leader of climate and atmospheric research within CSIRO where, in collaboration with national research providers and funders, she was responsible for delivering the research needed for Australia to manage the challenges and opportunities of a changing and variable climate.