Andrew McCullough

Andrew McCullough

Andrew is passionate about disaster management and mobilising communities as first responders. He joined the NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) in 2010 as a disaster volunteer, supporting communities across the state during significant floods, storms and bushfires.

In 2014, Andrew took on a paid role to implement a new model for flexible volunteering, which led to the growth of the NSW SES volunteer workforce by 30%. Andrew has since held both senior corporate and operational roles with the NSW SES, the National Emergency Management Agency and most recently he led a state Review of Emergency Volunteering within the NSW Premier’s Department in 2023. Operationally, he has coordinated spontaneous volunteers in response to significant and catastrophic disasters.

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with Honours, Bachelor of Commerce, Masters in Disaster Preparedness and Reconstruction and a Graduate Certificate in Disaster Risk Reduction.
Andrew is currently a Senior Manager within the NSW SES Flood Rescue team leading work to enhance the agency’s capability to respond to significant flood events.

Andrew is a 2024 Churchill Fellow and is travelling the world to better understand spontaneous volunteers during disasters. Andrew is the co-host of Australia's leading disaster podcast - Me, Myself & Disaster.

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Sydney is home to Australia’s largest flood risk. Regardless of the type of disaster, early warnings save lives.

The NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) has launched a new warnings framework, aligned to the Australian Warning System (AWS) to provide improved information to communities at risk of floods, storms and tsunami. The new warnings framework incorporates several years of research, focus group testing and analysis to develop clear action statements and wording that leads communities to make safe decisions when facing the impact of a severe weather event. Each warning now includes a polygon which shows the precise location of the warning area, empowering communities with more timely and accurate information. Warnings are now more localised, issued for each community and utilise NSW SES intelligence and historical flooding data to determine the warning level based on expected flood impacts. The new warnings framework has dramatically improved the quality of NSW SES warnings issued to flood affected communities.

This presentation will discuss how flood intelligence and historical flood data is utilised to warn communities and lead people to action. The presentation will share lessons for other organisations following the use of the new warnings.