Bounce Back Ability


By Kema Rajandran, ASM.

The use of the word, resilience, has rapidly been making headway since what is often referred to as the as the ‘post-9/11 world.’ The word resilience comes from the Latin verb resaltare, which means to ‘rebound’ or ‘bounce’ back, to ‘get moving again’ or ‘to result from’.

On 4 December 2008 in his first national security statement to Parliament, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defined the security of Australia and its people in a broad sense to include threats to human security other than attacks from foreign states and terrorist acts. It could be said that since then, in Australia, there has been a convergence of national security and resilience. Innovative Solutions for Security & Resilience (ISSR), Chief Executive, Rita Parker welcomed the change this brought to the security industry.

“At a professional level I welcomed the convergence of security and resilience. The concept of security broadened and the once state centric view no longer dominates security thinking or responses,” Parker said. “At the time of that statement, at ISSR we were already addressing issues on the broader security agenda with our clients.” Ms Parker has a highly regarded background in security and resilience issues across a range of topics including counter-terrorism, pandemics, large gatherings and civil military cooperation for humanitarian relief operations.

According to Parker, there has been a growing understanding of the complexity of issues associated with non-traditional security threats, as an example she explained that “vectors change such as cyber use for espionage and sabotage.” Unfortunately this also resulted in an increase in the number of people jumping onto the buzz of the resilience bandwagon.

“The term resilience is being used by a number of people who have little understanding of what the term means and how it is put into operation. Let me stress, it is not just about bouncing back.”

“Security is part of a continuum with explicit and implicit links to other disciplines. In my view, security, risk management, business continuity, intelligence, governance etc, are all activities working towards the end point, resilience.” Within ISSR, Parker works closely with organisations to develop and test their crisis management plans and corporate resilience including compliance with counter-terrorism community response legislation.

She has a particular interest in non-traditional security challenges and the role of organisations as enablers or inhibitors of national resilience. Her research in the areas of non-traditional security issues and resilience has led to her appointment as Visiting Fellow at UNSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy and as a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security at George Mason University in the United States. Parker believes we are moving away from being reactive through being proactive to a situation of greater awareness and capability in terms of skills, training and development.

“Gates, guns and guards will always have a role; however, there is a greater appreciation of the need to be smarter about how we do things and the benefit of complementarities, whether that’s skills or technologies.”

“We are learning to anticipate and to develop broader capabilities as well as specialist skills and while advances in technology can be of great benefit, the human dimension will always be essential.” Investing in people, their skills, training and development, Ms Parker sees each individual as their own best asset. This is one of the factors Parker says plays a part when finding the right people to work in the industry. “I strongly believe in merit, regardless of gender but I also recognise that serendipity and luck play a part,” she said.

Though she affirms that she does not support quotas, Ms Parker has mentored several women in different sectors, focusing on their abilities and strengths and areas for further development. “I think women often bring a different perspective and they frequently think in a lateral rather than a linear way which can be useful for solving problems or analysing issues.”

“I look for a person’s ability to come to grips with unfamiliar concepts and information, to have an awareness of different strategies, to offer…

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