Associate Professor Michael Eburn

Associate Professor
BCom LLB (NSW); BA(Hons) (NE); LLM (Newcastle; NSW); MPET (Deakin); PhD (Monash)
+61 2 6125 6424
0409 727 054
Room 244

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Biography

Dr Eburn is the leading researcher in the area of emergency services, emergency management and the law. He is the author or co-author of three books and has made over 80 other contributions as book chapters, journal articles, professional publications and conference and professional development presentations. His blog, Australian Emergency Law, is widely read and respected throughout the sector. His current research on law and governance in emergency management is funded by the Australian Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC.

Michael has been an invited expert on disaster law at events hosted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Kuala Lumpur and Geneva and an invited guest of the International Disaster Law project hosted by Roma Tre University and the University of Bologna in Italy.

Michael is a visiting fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, an affiliate with the Disaster Development Network, University of Northumbria (UK) and the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University and
GNS Science, Wellington (NZ). He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Australian Journal of Emergency Management.

Appointments

Awards

Year Title
2011 Unit Monitoring Commendation, Medico-Legal Issues, (University of New England), with Juila Werren
2010 Unit Monitoring Commendation, Law of Torts (University of New England), with Juila Werren
2003 Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching (University of New England) Team
2001 Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching (University of New England) Individual

Significant research publications

  • 'Bushfires and Australian emergency management law and policy: Adapting to climate change and the new fire and emergency management environment' in Burton, L and Sun, L (eds) Cassandra’s Curse: Law and Foreseeable Future Disasters (Studies in Law, Politics and Society; Elsevier, 2015).
  • Michael Eburn, ‘Managing ‘civil contingencies’ in Australia’ in Clive Walker (ed)  Contingencies, Resilience and Legal Constitutionalism (Routledge, 2015). 
  • ‘Disaster Risk Reduction in the Shadow of the Law’ in Andrew E. Collins, Samantha Jones, Bernard Manyena and Janaka Jayawickrama (eds) Hazards, Risks, and Disasters in Society (Elsevier, 2015, Hazards and Disasters Series).
  • Eburn, M and Dovers, S., ‘Learning Lessons from Disasters: Alternatives to Royal Commissions and Other Quasi-Judicial Inquiries’ (2015) 74(4) Australian Journal of Public Administration pp. 495–508.
  • Eburn, M and Dovers, S., 'Australian wildfire litigation’ (2012) 21(5) International Journal of Wildland Fire 488-497.

Read selected publications in the ANU Digital Collection

Recent news

13
Feb
2018
Evacuation Planning Handbook
The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has recognised the valuable input of Associate Professor Michael Eburn in development of the recently published, revised Evacuation Planning Handbook.
13
Nov
2014
If you completed a first aid course last weekend then you could call yourself a paramedic. A/Prof Michael Eburn and Ruth Townsend asks how the decision to defer the inclusion of paramedics on the Aust. Health Practitioner register can be justified.
14
Mar
2014

Officials from China’s State Forestry Administration have visited ANU to gain expert insights into the prevention and science of bushfires.

01
Nov
2013

Dr Michael Eburn talks to the Emergency Planning College about his experience as a volunteer, disaster management and what we should learn from recent events.

In the Media

23
Mar
2018
Michael Eburn interviewed by ABC Radio
31
Jan
2017
Michael Eburn speaks to The Wildland Fire Safety Summit

Past events

13
Jun
2018
Restorative
9.00AM to 5.00PM Workshop
  • Professor Jennifer Llewelyn, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia

This workshop will address the questions of whether restorative practices should, and can be adopted to make inquiries into natural disasters more effective and facilitate community restoration.

17
May
2017
Event image
8.00PM to 9.30PM Lecture
  • Dr Michael Eburn, ANU College of Law

This presentation will report on research undertaken on post disaster enquiries in Australia. It will identify failings in traditional processes adopted by coronial inquests and Royal Commissions and asks "is there a better way?" 

Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.

Read selected publications in the ANU Digital Collection

Research biography

Dr Eburn is the leading researcher in the area of emergency services, emergency management and the law. He is the author or co-author of three books and has made over 80 other contributions as book chapters, journal articles, professional publications and conference and professional development presentations. His blog, Australian Emergency Law, is widely read and respected throughout the sector. His current research on law and governance in emergency management is funded by the Australian Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC.

Michael has been an invited expert on disaster law at events hosted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Kuala Lumpur and Geneva and an invited guest of the International Disaster Law project hosted by Roma Tre University and the University of Bologna in Italy.

Michael is a visiting fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, an affiliate with the Disaster Development Network, University of Northumbria (UK) and the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University and GNS Science, Wellington (NZ). He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Australian Journal of Emergency Management.

Research projects & collaborations

Policies, institutions and governance of natural hazards

This project is funded by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre to identify how current emergency management policies, institutions and governance arrangements help or hinder the ability of communities to play an active role in preparing for and responding to natural hazard events.

Grants

  • See the discussion under 'Research projects & collaborations' above. 

Consultancies

I have acted as a legal adviser/consultant to a number of governments and Australian Emergency Services.  Legal Professional Privilege means that I cannot identify particular clients but my consultancy work has extended to all jurisdictions in Australia.

Books & edited collections

  1. Emergency Law: Rights, liabilities and duties of emergency workers and volunteers (1st ed 1999; 2nd ed 2005; 3rd ed 2010, 4th ed 2013; The Federation Press, Sydney).

  2. Hayes and Eburn: Criminal Law and Procedure in NSW (with Robert Hayes, 1st ed 2002, 2nd ed 2005, 3rd ed, 2009; with Rod Howie and Paul Sattler, 4th ed, 2013, Lexis/Nexis Butterworths).

  3. Australia's International Disaster Response - Laws, Rules and Principles (2010, VDM-Verlag, Saarbrucken, Germany).

  4. Legal preparedness for international disaster response in Australia: Laws, Policies, Planning and Practices(2010, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva).

Book chapters

  1. 'The International Law of Wildfires' in Samuel, K and Breau S (eds) Research Handbook, Disasters and International Law (Edward Elgar, forthcoming).

  2. 'Bushfires and Australian emergency management law and policy: Adapting to climate change and the new fire and emergency management environment' in Burton, L and Sun, L (eds) Cassandra’s Curse: Law and Foreseeable Future Disasters (Studies in Law, Politics and Society; Elsevier, 2015).

  3. Michael Eburn, ‘Managing ‘civil contingencies’ in Australia’ in Clive Walker (ed)  Contingencies, Resilience and Legal Constitutionalism (Routledge, 2015). 

  4. ‘Disaster Risk Reduction in the Shadow of the Law’ in Andrew E. Collins, Samantha Jones, Bernard Manyena and Janaka Jayawickrama (eds) Hazards, Risks, and Disasters in Society (Elsevier, 2015, Hazards and Disasters Series)

  5. ‘Sharing responsibility and community resilience: The role of law in converting policy to action’ in Clarke, M and Griffin, G (eds) Next Generation Disaster Management (Australian Security Research Centre, 2012).

Refereed journal articles

  1. Bradley, E., Townsend, R. and Eburn, M. ‘Paramedics and ACT Mental Health Legislation’ (2015) 12(4)Australasian Journal of Paramedicine, Article 1, 1-6.

  2. Eburn, M and Dovers, S., ‘Learning Lessons from Disasters: Alternatives to Royal Commissions and Other Quasi-Judicial Inquiries’ (2015) 74(4) Australian Journal of Public Administration pp. 495–508.

  3. With Dovers, S., ‘Legal Aspects of Risk Management in Australia’ (2014) 4(1) Journal of Integrated Disaster Risk Management 61-72.  

  4. With Dovers, S., 'How chief officers view the measures of success in fire policy and management', (2014) 29(3) Australian Journal of Emergency Management 16-21.

  5. McLennan, B., Weir, J., Eburn, M., Handmer, J., Dovers, S. and Norman, B., 'Negotiating risk and responsibility through law, policy and planning', (2014) 29(3) Australian Journal of Emergency Management22-28.

Conference papers & presentations

  1. 'Legal responsibilities and accountability within emergency first aid'.  Presentation to Royal Australian Navy medics and doctors, HMAS Stirling (Perth) 5 November 2015 and HMAS Penguin (Sydney) 9 December 2015.

  2. 'The Legal Consequences of Ignoring Climate Change' and 'Natural hazard risk – to disclose or not do disclose – that is the question?'.  Presentation on behalf of Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) and Local Government Insurance Service of Western Australia (LGIS), Bunbury 9 November 2015 and Perth 10 November 2015.

  3. 'Paramedic registration – and why you should care'. Presentation to ACT Ambulance, Canberra, 9 October 2015 [Audio], the National Council of Ambulance Unions Annual Conference, Canberra, 20 August 2015 [Audio] and at the Australian and New Zealand College of Paramedicine annual conference, Sydney, 15 August 2015. [Presentation] [Audio

  4. 'Legal responsibilities and accountability within emergency first aid'.  Presentation at the 2015 Skills for Life First Aid Instructors Professional Development Conference, Sydney, 7 August 2015. [Presentation] [Audio] [Supplementary material (audio)]

  5. 'Legal implication of HS@W legislation, the Rural fire fighters perspective' and 'Legal implication of HS@Wlegislation, the Fire Service perspective'.  Presentations at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Forest and Rural Firefighters Association of New Zealand, Blenheim, 5 August 2015. [Presentation 1] [Audio 1] [Presentation 2] [Audio 2]. 

  6. 'Reflections on online teaching and learning', Australasian Law Teachers Association Annual Conference, Queensland University of Technology, 9 July 2003.
  7. 'Theatrical Advocacy; A report on Advocacy Training at UNE', Australasian Law Teachers Association Annual Conference, University of Canberra, 4 July 2000.

Commissioned reports

‘Background Report - Law and Regulation for the Reduction of Risk from Natural Disasters -in Australia - A National Law Desk Survey' September 2012.  Report written for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies International Disaster Law project, 13 September 2012.

Government submissions

  1. Recent Trends in and Preparedness for Extreme Weather Events’.  Submission to the Senate Environment and Communication References Committee: Inquiry into Recent Trends in and Preparedness for Extreme Weather Events, 8 January 2013. (Oral evidence given to the Committee 11 April 2013).

  2. With Townsend, R., Submission to the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council’s Consultation Paper: Options for regulation of paramedics, 5 September 2012. 

  3. Hamer, D, Anthony, T, Biber, K et al 2012, Submission on Exposure Draft: Evidence Amendment (Evidence of Silence) Bill 2012.

  4. 'Reforming Victoria’s emergency management arrangements: Towards a more disaster resilient and safer Victoria – Who is in charge?' Submission to the Victorian Emergency Management Reform Green Paper, Towards a more disaster resilient and safer Victoria, 30 October 2011.

  5. ‘Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996’, submission to Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee, December 1996.

Committees

External Organisations

  • Editorial Advisory Board, Australian Journal of Emergency Management

Internal ANU Committees

  • ANU College of Law Work Health and Safety Committee
  • ANU College of Law LLB/JD Honours Committee

Case notes & book reviews

  1. ‘Washington v Glucksberg; Vacco v Quill' (1997) 5 Journal of Law and Medicine 120-123.

  2. 'Further Decision on the Right to Die' (1996) 4 Journal of Law and Medicine 15-17.

  3. 'United States Recognition of the right to die' (1996) 3 Journal of Law and Medicine 308-310.

Other

  1. Nurses as ‘Good Samaritans’ (2015) 15(3) Primary Times 21.  

  2. 'Taking photos on an Australian fire ground' (2015) 54 Asia Pacific Fire Magazine 66-67.

  3. ‘Are Fire Brigades Liable for Poor Operational Decisions’ (2015) 37(1) The Bulletin (Official journal of the Law Society of South Australia), 8-11.

  4. With Townsend, R 'Registration of Paramedics' (2015) Vol 42(1) Response (Official Journal of Paramedics Australasia) pp 22-23.

  5. Ruth Townsend and Michael Eburn, ‘Professional Discipline for Registered Health Professionals: Lessons for Australian Paramedics’ (2014) Vol 41(3) Response (Official Journal of Paramedics Australasia) pp 41-43.

Currently supervising

PhD supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Emergency services and emergency management, in areas of both domestic and international law.  Health law and policy; Criminal law.  

I have previously supervised:

  • Principal supervisor, Paramedic Registration - Ruth Townsend (ANU College of Law).
  • Principal supervisor, The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience: Getting it right from top to bottom - Sue Hunt (ANU, Fenner School of Environment and Society).
  • Panel member, Disaster Insurance - Rachel Carter (La Trobe University, Faculty of Law).
  • Panel member, Trust in data for emergency management - David Hudson (ANU, Fenner School of Environment and Society).
  • Panel member, Improving flood management in a changing climate - Caroline Wenger (ANU, Fenner School of Environment and Society).

SJD supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Emergency services and emergency management, in areas of both domestic and international law.  Health law and policy; Criminal law.  

MPhil supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Emergency services and emergency management, in areas of both domestic and international law.  Health law and policy; Criminal law.  

LLM Masters thesis supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Emergency services and emergency management, in areas of both domestic and international law.  Health law and policy; Criminal law.  

Honours thesis supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Emergency services and emergency management, in areas of both domestic and international law.  Health law and policy; Criminal law.  

I have previously supervised:

  • 2013: Ellen Bradley, 'Empowering Paramedics Under Mental Health Legislation In The Australian Capital Territory'.
  • 2012: Georgia Marjoribanks ‘Vicarious Liability for Volunteers: A Case for the Extension of the Doctrine’.
  • 2012: Mark Dehlsen ‘Do I have a Right to be saved from a Bushfire?’
  • 2012: Timothy Knox ‘Not Going Quietly; A study of self-defence against police officers, done to prevent unlawful arrest’.

Internship supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Emergency services and emergency management, in areas of both domestic and international law.  Health law and policy; Criminal law.  

I have previously supervised:

  • Varun Sundar 'Perverse Incentives in Disaster Insurance Policy: Propagating Mitigation'

Current courses

Year Course code Course name
2018 LAWS8074
Class #8551
Personal Injuries Compensation

Previous courses

Year Course code Course name
2017 LAWS8074
Class #8551
Personal Injuries Compensation
2016 LAWS8074
Class #8771
Personal Injuries Compensation
2016 LAWS8012
Class #5715
Australian Disaster Law

Teaching awards

Year Title
2011 Unit Monitoring Commendation, Medico-Legal Issues, (University of New England), with Juila Werren
2010 Unit Monitoring Commendation, Law of Torts (University of New England), with Juila Werren
2003 Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching (University of New England) Team
2001 Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching (University of New England) Individual

Past courses

The Australian National University (2011-current)

  • LAWS 8012 Australian Disaster Law
  • LAWS2233 Selected Topics in Torts

University of New England (1994-2010)

  • LS160 Criminal Law and Procedure
  • LS242 Medico-Legal Issues
  • LS480 Advanced Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy
  • LS280 Moot Court
  • LS100 Introduction to Legal System and Methods
  • LS390 Trial Advocacy
  • LS210 Civil Procedure and Evidence
  • LS232 Torts I

How my works connects with public policy

My research has particular implications for government, and government agencies are a key audience.  The main impact that my research is intended to have is to inform those in the fire emergency service sector as to the true legal position governing their industry and to assist them in developing effective policy. I anticipate that my research informs them in their discussions with government and with the broader public. Relevant agencies that I have engaged with and continuing to engage with are:

  1. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade;

  2. The Attorney-General’s Department;

  3. Emergency Management Australia;

  4. State and Territory fire and emergency services;

  5. Transport for New South Wales; and

  6. New South Wales Department of Industry, Resources and Energy.

Industry:

The relevant industry that is the subject of my research is largely government operated so a key audience is the State and Territory fire and emergency services. There is however a growing private industry that is also an audience my research. This industry involves:

  1. Private paramedic providers; and

  2. Industry, and in particular mining, fire and emergency services.

Public:

Members of the public who have an interest in emergency management are also an audience my research.

Impact 

It is difficult to identify direct impact in this regard but I do note the following public acknowledgement of the impact my research:

  1. My research was cited by Higgins CJ in his decision in State of New South Wales v West & Anor [2008] ACTCA 14;

  2. In a Review of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005 (SA) the Hon. Paul Holloway said (at p 37):

    Associate Professor Eburn, and Professor Stephen Dovers of the Australian National University have also made an important contribution to the debate on the assessment of emergency service response to major disasters.

    With respect to post-event learning he referred to our work and recommended:

    When judging major incidents in the future, consideration be given to Eburn and Dover’s proposal to establish processes with a statutory basis that sufficiently balance the community’s interests in ensuring that true lessons, including lessons of error or neglect, are identified, whilst also protecting members of the emergency services. Processes need to be developed for emergency services such as those used in aviation and medicine, to facilitate open and honest disclosure of errors.At a recent conference of the National Council of Ambulance Unions the Shadow Minister for health cited my work in support of her argument to the national registration of paramedics.

  3. As a result of my research I have been invited to contribute to discussions to help develop international law in this field in particular I was invited by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to attend expert meetings on international disaster law in both Kuala Lumpur and Geneva and I was invited to attend an experts meeting on the International Law Commission’s draft articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of a Disaster in Rome.

 

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team