Russell Rees AFSM
Russell Rees has had a long and distinguished career in the public sector since 1978. His latest appointment is Risk Adviser with the Municipal Association of Victoria, the peak body representing local government in the state. Russell’s main focus is on improving the capability of municipalities to manage their many and varied risks, with a special focus on emergency management. Russell took up this position in October 2010, following a long career with the Country Fire Authority (CFA).
Russell Rees originally joined CFA as a career officer in 1978. Prior to that, he had been a volunteer firefighter at both Moe and Belmont, and had been a junior firefighter from the age of eleven. He worked across a range of locations, including Melton, Ballarat, Ararat, Geelong, Seymour, Colac and Lilydale. For a period of time he was an instructor at CFA’s Training College at Fiskville and in his last two years there, was the Officer in Charge of Operational Training.
Russell was then appointed to a range of senior management positions, including Area Manager for the Yarra Area, based in Lilydale and Deputy Chief Officer, with responsibility for Policy and Standards, based at CFA headquarters. Finally in August 2001, he was appointed by the CFA Board to the position of Chief Officer, a position he held with distinction until July 2010.
The role of chief officer is a statutory position under the CFA Act and brings with it responsibilities and leadership accountabilities as the senior operational commander of CFA. In times of serious emergency, Russell lead and directed a fire fighting force of enormous proportions, controlling and directing the overall response and management of anything up to 10,000 people over many days. He was responsible for ensuring a fire fighting force of more than 59,000 volunteers, 400 career staff, over 2,000 vehicles and up to 30 aircraft were ready to meet the variety of emergencies across the jurisdiction of CFA and beyond.
Russell’s influence has been significant across national and international forums in emergency management. He has chaired national committees, influencing the direction of emergency management in Australia. He has been a regular speaker at national and international conferences and is well regarded for his astute and strategic positioning on matters relating to the development of the emergency management sector.
Russell was born in 1956, is married to Bernadette Kean and they have a daughter born in January 2002,and a son from his first marriage born in 1990. He is madly passionate about the Geelong Football Club and enjoys caravanning, travelling and reading historical fiction and biographies. He is President of his local netball club and a member of his local life saving club.
Academically, Russell has a Bachelor of Education and a Masters of Business Administration. He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2003, Russell attended the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. Russell is a recipient of the Centenary Medal awarded in 2003; the Australian Fire Service Medal awarded in 2005 and is an Australia Day Ambassador.