After nine years as CEO of AFAC, the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services, Stuart Ellis AM is retiring. The AFAC Board of Directors have appointed Rob Webb, AFAC Director of National Projects and Innovation and Program Director for the Australian Fire Danger Rating System, as incoming CEO.
Since taking the role of CEO at AFAC in 2012, Stuart has been passionate about improving the professional standing of fire and emergency personnel, with a focus on progressing an industry-wide, integrated approach to emergency management. During his tenure, he established the Emergency Management Professionalisation Scheme (EMPS), the Commissioners and Chief Officers Strategic Committee (CCOSC) and, subsequently, the National Resource Sharing Centre (NRSC).
In 2015, Stuart initiated the annual National Memorial Services in Canberra, acknowledging the importance of recognising those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the lives and property of others. He also established the Memorial Wall located adjacent to the National Emergency Service Memorial in Canberra, where the names of all fire and emergency service personnel who have died in the line of duty since records began are inscribed.
Improving culture and increasing diversity in the industry was a focus for Stuart. In April 2017, Stuart led the establishment of the Champions of Change Fire and Emergency Group, a forum involving Chief Executives, Commissioners and Chief Officers to support diversity and inclusion. ‘We need to accept more women into our sector and this in turn will help us better reflect the communities we serve, improve our mental health and provide greater opportunities to improve our operational capability,’ he said.
Stuart brought decades of emergency management experience and leadership to the role of AFAC CEO. Following a distinguished 22-year career in the Australian Army and posting as Commanding Officer of the Royal Military College, in 1996 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer/Chief Officer of the South Australian Country Fire Service for five years. 1996 also saw Stuart involved in the Black Hawk Disaster Board of Inquiry. In 2002, Stuart established a consultancy company and was involved in over 20 operational reviews, including the Canberra Bushfires, the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission and the Christchurch Earthquake.
Through his diligence, innovation, care and outstanding leadership, Stuart completes his service leaving a very strong National Council and AFAC Secretariat. His highly professional service has led to a set of outcomes that have established enormous credibility and respect for AFAC and its service to communities.
Commencing 13 December 2021, Rob Webb will take on the position of AFAC CEO. Rob joined AFAC in 2020 as Director National Projects and Innovation, and Program Director for the Australian Fire Danger Rating System.
Rob is an experienced leader with 26 years at the Bureau of Meteorology. He is a former Deputy CEO, where he led the Bureau’s state or national multi-hazard service delivery during some of Australia’s worst disasters. He specialised in extreme weather services from the mid-1990s and has since forged strong partnerships with the emergency management sector at local, state and national levels.
Rob is passionate about reducing the social and economic impacts of disasters in Australia through empowering communities and businesses to make the right decisions at the right times.
He brings his extensive experience in meteorology, disaster management, disaster communications, service development, operations management, change management and risk management to the CEO role.
His expertise ranges from bushfires to thunderstorms, floods to heatwaves, tropical cyclones to tsunami, reflecting the diversity of incidents that AFAC Members respond to. Rob has also liaised with all levels of government, the community and the media during some of Australia’s largest disaster events.
Rob cares deeply about his work to keep communities safe and is committed to this lifetime vocation. He looks forward to continuing to work with the many dedicated AFAC staff in supporting AFAC Members, and the broader emergency management sector, to create safer, more resilient communities.
For more information, go to www.afac.com.au