Dr Ian Norton, founder and Managing Director of Respond Global, is a specialist emergency physician and an expert in coordinating emergency health responses to disease outbreaks and disasters. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Surgery, International Health and Tropical Medicine.
Ian was head of the WHO’s Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Initiative in Geneva from 2014-20. During this time, he led responses to Ebola, Diphtheria and Measles outbreaks as well as to earthquakes, cyclones, and war zones. Ian was awarded the WHO Director General’s Staff Excellence Medal for his efforts in coordinating 130 health response teams to the Nepalese earthquake in 2015.
Ian is the lead author of the current WHO Global Classification and Standards that governs how international medical teams deploy and respond to disasters.
Previous to the WHO, Ian led the creation of disaster response teams in Australia and became the Director of Disaster Preparedness and Response at the National Critical Care & Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) in Darwin.
During that time Ian established the Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) framework and designed the field hospitals that are today used for international disaster and infectious disease responses. He led the AUSMAT responses to the Pakistan floods, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and other outbreak and cyclone responses in the Pacific.
Ian established Respond Global as a social enterprise in early 2020 with the aim of empowering others to be able to plan, prepare and respond to health emergencies in their own countries.
Look out for the documentary ‘Chasing Chaos: The story of Dr. Ian Norton’, coming soon to streaming networks.
Rebecca is an experienced and highly skilled Health Executive, with proven strategic and operational experience as an emergency response practitioner and educator. Previous to Respond Global, she held senior roles within the Victorian Public Health Service.
As Respond Global’s Director of Health Services she is responsible for ensuring clinical governance, driving quality and safety standards, developing health workforce recruitment and retention strategies, and supporting the health advisory and education services through consultancy advice and service delivery.
Rebecca utilises her extensive operational and strategic experience to lead teams in often difficult and unpredictable environments, creating high-performing teams to deliver quality evidence-based health care in resource-limited settings. She has deployed in response to several large-scale disasters and disease outbreaks, including cyclones in the Pacific, the Samoan Measles outbreak, the COVID-19 aged care crisis response in Victoria, the COVID-19 outbreak in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and more recently the Victorian floods.
Rebecca is skilled in establishing strong collaborative partnerships to identify and implement workable solutions to complex problems, and in developing strategies and implementing practical tools to achieve common goals. Her experiences working in metro and regional health services within Australia has enabled a comprehensive understanding of the health system and the issues that can affect healthcare professionals from a strategic and operational perspective.
Scott is the Chief Commercial Officer and Director of Disaster Management & Environmental Services for Respond Global, and whilst having worked in many of Australia’s largest and most complex corporations and government organisations, Scott also has an extensive 18-year operational background within the fire services of both Victoria and Queensland and is a National Emergency and Service medal recipient.
Scott is a Lieutenant within Queensland Fire & Emergency Services (QFES) and he brings a mix of commercial, business risk, and operational emergency management experience to our clients’ important initiatives. With an all-hazards emergency management focus, Scott has been involved in many of Australia’s largest wildfire incidents, run large-scale incident management functions, as well as structural fires, search and rescue incidents.
Scott has led complex businesses within the management consulting, technology and business process outsourcing sectors, creating innovative “as a service” frameworks designed to drive business transformation and achieve more effective and cost-efficient outcomes for customers.
Abigail is an experienced and highly skilled emergency response practitioner and educator, who has held senior roles in a number of government health departments. She has been responsible for interpreting and operationalising global health standards to support Australia’s disaster response capacity, with a focus on deployable field hospitals, and emergency, surgical, and primary health care capabilities.
Abigail was the WHO’s Quality Verification Team lead, working with numerous Ministries of Health worldwide, including the USA, UK, China, Norway, and South Korea amongst others, to audit their application of the WHO global health standards and assist their Emergency Medical Teams to attain WHO accreditation. She also led a number of national healthcare teams to reach the Australian Commission of Health Care Standards (ACHS Equip) in 2020, undertaking an independently assessed audit against the global health standards.
As a current AusMAT team member and mission lead, Abigail has deployed in response to several large-scale disasters, including the Samoan Measles outbreak, the Bangladeshi Diphtheria outbreak, and a number of devastating Pacific cyclones. She has also led the development of the AusMAT training and education framework across a number of emergency response areas.
As Respond Global’s head of advisory and education services, Abigail is responsible for supporting both government and private enterprise clients to interpret and apply public healthcare policy and directions within their organisations. She is currently completing a DrPH in the area of team performance with the University of New South Wales.
Photo Credit: WHO Nepal
Basil is a general surgeon with an interest in paediatric surgery and spent 15 years serving in Vanuatu’s tertiary referral hospital system. In 2019 he was awarded the Vanuatu Presidential Medal for Meritorious Service.
Basil has led and continues to support national Emergency Medical Team development in Vanuatu. He coordinated and deployed national and international EMTs in response to Tropical Cyclone Pam (2015), Ambae volcano disaster (2017,2018), Tropical Cyclone Harold (2020) and COVID-19 Repatriation, Quarantine and Community Transmission (2020, 2022).
Basil is an instructor on the EMST, CCrISP and MIMMS international courses run in the Pacific. He is a member of the Vanuatu Nursing Council and sits on the board of the Vanuatu Emergency Services Association. Basil is the national lead for MV HELPR-1 and he is based in Vanuatu as our Director of HELPR-1 Operations.
Cate Heinrich’s role at Respond Global is the Donor Relations and Communications Executive, where she manages our key donor and stakeholder relationships and develops the communications strategy across the organisation.
Cate has two decades of experience working in the communication and education sectors in Asia Pacific, Eastern Africa, Australia and the UK in both the humanitarian and development fields. She is passionate about advocating for and working together with communities to create positive change that matters – and lasts.
Recently, Cate has worked with UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand, one of the UNICEF national committees, and UNICEF Pacific, with programmes supporting 14 countries in the Pacific. As the Chief of Communications and Advocacy, Cate provided strategic guidance and oversight to communications teams and staff in the Pacific region on issues ranging from advocacy campaigns, emergency response, donor relations, crisis communication, branding, media and digital communications.
Chris commenced her professional life in the United States Coast Guard, specialising in areas of operations; highlights included managing a west coast emergency operations centre, duty as commanding officer of a patrol boat and service as a member of President Bush Snr’s waterborne security detail.
During her time at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), Chris held a number of roles, including being the operations lead of the Australian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, and working closely with Australia’s regional neighbours including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Maldives and the Pacific Community, to improve search and rescue capabilities, coordination and emergency response protocols on a national and regional level.
Chris spent a year as Station Leader of Australia’s largest Antarctic Research Station, Casey, before joining Respond Global as Director of Operations from 2020-2021. Chris recently returned from 3 months as Voyage Leader for the Australian Antarctic Division, in which she was responsible for the operational delivery of resupply services to Australian Antarctic stations.
Chris Maher is Respond Global’s Senior Specialist Advisor – Health Emergencies, and he has worked in the public health sector for more than three decades.
With a highly distinguished career on the frontline of polio eradication and immunisation programme management, Mr Maher was appointed Chief Scientist and Senior Advisor to the global programme in 2012.
He has been involved in polio eradication at every level and he has been directly involved in immunization and eradication programmes in countries all over the world. His programmes spanned 100 countries over 25 years.
In January 2018 he was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Australia by the Government of Australia, in recognition of his work in this area. More recently Mr Maher was Senior Adviser to the Director-General of the WHO in Geneva.
Since his retirement in late 2020 and subsequent return to his home country, Mr Maher remains active in the international public health and emergency response fields. He is a Current Senior Adviser to UNICEF Australia on Vaccines and Immunisation.
Barbara specialises in working with governments to coordinate health emergency operations during crises and design and implement strategies for the establishment of Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs). She is a WHO regional office and international health ministry relationship expert.
Her work has also involved managing the WHO Health Emergency Program, coordinating efforts with the Solomon Islands government, donor partners, NGOs, and other stakeholders to implement relevant health emergency activities.
More recently she worked with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health to set up systems and procedures in preparation for a COVID-19 outbreak with a focus on repatriations, quarantine, and Infection Prevention and Control.
As Respond Global’s technical health advisor Barbara is responsible for managing strategic and operational support to our HELPR-1 operations in Vanuatu. She also provides technical health advice on infectious disease management to clients and is partnership leader for the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific and Solomon Islands Regional Offices, as well as the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministries of Health for Timor-Leste, Bhutan, Maldives, Vanuatu, and Nepal.
Barbara holds a Bachelor’s in Occupational Therapy and has held lecturing and tutoring positions at Solomon Islands National University in their Community-Based Rehabilitation Diploma program. She is currently completing her Masters of Infectious Diseases.
Yolanda has over 15 years of experience in emergency and disaster preparedness and response. She was most recently Chief of Section for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in their regional office for Southern and Eastern Africa (Nairobi and Johannesburg).
She created, piloted and facilitated national and regional workshops on emergency preparedness and response and National and Health Emergency Operation Centres (N-EOCs and H-EOCs) and wrote a field manual on community approaches to early warning for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) practitioners.
Prior to UN-OCHA she worked in Liberia for UNICEF (2011-2012) as an emergency field coordinator for the response to the Ivory Coast post-electoral violence refugee crisis, coordinating a multi-sectoral response across WASH, Education, Health and Child Protection. She also deployed to Haiti in January 2010 with the UN to coordinate its response to the earthquake, including support to Emergency Medical Teams.
In Australia, she worked for the Chief Health Officer in the Emergency Management Unit of Queensland Health, considerably building the systems of the State Health Emergency Coordination Centre (SHECC), including the implementation of a virtual platform and helping build the capacity of the district Health Emergency Operation Centres.
While in this role, Yolanda deployed to Christchurch as a member of the AUSMAT team for the 2011 earthquake response and was awarded a Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (HOSM) for guiding the set-up of the Canterbury Health Districts Health Emergency Operations Centre (H-EOC).
In her role at Respond Global, Yolanda led the delivery of the Australian Government Department of Health’s Rapid Antigen Testing Program. The program provided Rapid Antigen Testing training and support to 1,200 Residential Aged Care Facilities across Australia, facilitating the prevention of countless outbreaks. The program also extended to support Disability Care and Services Organisations, GP Respiratory Clinics and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
Yolanda also worked closely with the Commonwealth Bank to facilitate their Rapid Antigen Testing rollout, as well as the WHO EMRO and SEARO to provide support to Health Ministries in Timor-Leste, Bhutan and Maldives.
Nick is an experienced and professional logistics and operations support expert who specialises in designing and implementing systems and processes that conserve and manage critical resources, increase efficiencies, and ensure error-proof operations.
Nick grew up on a farm and has a background in aircraft engineering, a trade that requires precision and the ability to solve problems quickly, to ensure the safety of passengers and crew. Whether he is maintaining an emergency field camp, or managing a complex operation, Nick is a natural problem-solver who thrives on finding solutions.
Nick has completed multiple expeditions to Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Program, where he was responsible for building and operating runways and for coordinating the station’s aviation and scientific operations from the simple to the complex.
Previously, Nick managed the logistical operations for Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) in both the Kutapalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh and the Sasht-e-Barchi maternity hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Most recently Nick was the senior logistics officer aboard Respond Global’s humanitarian response vessel, HELPR-1, supporting the delivery of COVID-19 vaccination and essential public health services to the remote island communities of Vanuatu. He also deployed to regional Victoria, Australia, to assist in the flood relief efforts in October 2022, supporting the complex logistical requirements of a number of regional health services and hospitals affected by the floods.
Our core team is supported by an international group of multi-lingual emergency response practitioners who provide solutions that are a direct result of their field-based experiences, adapted to the specific context of a country, industry, or organisation.
Our clinical and logistics personnel have worked with over 60 countries and regional bodies, as well as the WHO and UN in improving international response mechanisms.
With connections to health leadership and operational response teams in Australia, New Zealand, South-West Pacific, Asia, and the WHO, we are in the unique position of being able to provide a meaningful localised translation of global, national and state health policies into practical and implementable responses.