AWE Day Forum

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Join us online at the AWE Day Forum to hear from special guest speaker Sarah (Norm) Stuart-Black, Secretary General of New Zealand Red Cross, and former Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management in NEMA New Zealand who led over 50 emergencies affecting the country, as she shares insights and lessons from her own career journey.

Ruth Wraith OAM, one of Australia’s pioneering disaster mental health experts, will also announce winners of the inaugural AWE Excellence Awards.

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Sara (Norm) Stuart-Black QSO

Sara (Norm) Stuart-Black originally trained as a nurse, completing her qualification in 1993. She then worked in New Zealand and England as a nurse. In 1997 she returned to university and completed a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in disaster management. She was a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team for nine years and has worked in Ethiopia, Niue and the Solomon Islands.

Norm joined the New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency Te Rākau Whakamarumaru in 2003, and in December 2014 she was appointed director of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. She led the Civil Defence response to the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, the 2017 Port Hills fires, the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks and Whakaari / White Island eruption, and the 2020 response to the coronavirus disease in New Zealand.

In the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Norm was appointed a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, for services to emergency management.


Ruth Wraith OAM

As a new graduate Ruth Wraith worked at the Royal Park psychiatric hospital with adolescent girls. This experience sparked Ruth’s interest in the psychological and emotional health of young people and further developed her understanding of the impact of a child’s past experiences on their later wellbeing.

Ruth specialised in the treatment of children and families who had been damaged as a result of any of a range of experiences from child abuse, physical illness and treatment, parents with a mental illness, refugee experiences and man-made and environmental disasters.  These included Ash Wednesday, Queen St, Manresa Kindergarten Siege, Port Arthur, Coode Island, Black Saturday and many fires, floods, droughts, accidents and incidents.

She undertook extensive pioneering work with governments to improve responses to trauma in the aftermath of catastrophic natural disasters or violent events. Much of this work proved influential in establishing models for community recovery that are now established practice and Ruth is considered one of Australia’s leading disaster mental health experts.

For many years she trained and lectured in Australia and overseas. Early in her retirement, over a number of years, Ruth was mental health advisor to the RCHI/University of Gadjah Mada/World Vision response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

In 2012 Ruth Wraith was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to community health, particularly the treatment of children recovering from trauma.

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