The strategic founder of Australia’s National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC), Professor Leonard Notaras AO, has been appointed Chair of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Strategic Advisory Group (SAG).
Professor Notaras has a long history in disaster response having coordinated the Royal Darwin Hospital response to the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, along with events at Ashmore Reef in 2009.
Professor Notaras AO currently serves as the Executive Director of the NCCTRC and has been a staunch supporter of the EMT Initiative and its network since it began in 2014.
The Australian Government provides annual funding to the NCCTRC since its inception in 2005, with the current National Partnership Agreement with the Northern Territory providing $67.6 million from 2019-2023. Its role, out of Darwin, Northern Territory, includes coordinating and deploying the AUSMAT (Australian Medical Assistance Team) capability, as well as providing extensive training and research opportunities in response to major national and international disasters.
AUSMATs have been deployed internationally for more than a decade, providing medical response following major disasters and health crises.
More recently AUSMATs have been deployed domestically, in particular to provide additional support to the states and territories during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt, said Professor Notras’ nomination and acceptance of the role was a testament to his storied career in the medical profession.
“The Australian Government nominated Professor Notaras for the position in recognition of his commitment and work in the EMT Initiative, a program endorsed by the Strategic Advisory Group and the World Health Organization,” Minister Hunt said.
“I am delighted that Professor Notaras will take up the 2-year appointment, advising on the strategic direction of the EMT Initiative, as well as continuing his vital work in his role with the NCCTRC.”
“The appointment of Professor Notaras as Chair also recognises the continued commitment from Australia to supporting the EMT Initiative. I commend him for his work and know he will serve Australia and the world well in this new position.”
Professor Notaras said he was honoured to have been nominated and appointed to the role, following in the footsteps of highly acclaimed World Health Organization Ambassador Toni Frisch.
“Ambassador Frisch played a critical role in guiding the EMT initiative and I am honoured that I have been appointed to steer this important work for the next two years,” Professor Notaras said.
“The EMT initiative plays an important role in the global health workforce and the COVID‑19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of continuing to ensure teams have training and equipment, are self-sufficient, credentialed and meet the necessary standards for emergency deployment.”