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Emma Gale Volunteer Leadership Program August 2023
Emma Gale (Hunter Branch UAV Coordinator) and fellow emergency service volunteers at the Disaster Resilience Volunteer Leadership Program

Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience Volunteer Leadership Program

On the first weekend in August, Emma Gale from Hunter Branch attended a Volunteer Leadership Program, held by the Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience (AIDR) in Newcastle. As a Branch UAV Coordinator, Emma is always keen to improve engagement and retention of the volunteer UAV pilots and operators, and this program provided her with some insight, knowledge, and new ideas to implement.

So, how do we engage more UAV volunteers?
Emma learnt that the motivation for volunteering can be quite different across the age groups, with younger adults tending to focus more on career benefits and gaining skills, whilst older adults are often driven more by altruism and utilising the skills that they already have. Interestingly, regardless of motivations, most volunteers were more likely to join an organisation where they already knew someone. So, providing a good experience to existing volunteer pilots and operators is vital.

How do we keep our current volunteers?
It was found that the key reason volunteers leave is due to feeling under-utilised.  Everyone wants to feel valued and to know that their contributions help, whether that be in a big or small way.  This led to discussions on how to appropriately acknowledge volunteers and how to utilise their range of varied skills and backgrounds. This may include initiatives ranging from UAV labelled patrol caps, mentoring buddy systems or more structured pathways for greater integration and utilisation of UAVs on patrols.

Emma also received a timely reminder to remember to take time-out, to reduce burnout. This is probably most applicable for deployments or Search and Rescue events. Unfortunately, high intensity sports do not constitute time-out, as they don’t help reduce stress levels. Rather, it should be an activity which lowers your heart rate like a relaxing swim, bushwalk, or socialising.

One of the highlights of the workshop was a Disaster themed trivia! It’s amazing how many songs, movies, and ‘big’ things around Australia are related to disaster events. Well done, Emma, for your valuable contributions!

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The percentage contribution of each marine animal to the total number of megafauna observed along NSW coast per a DPI study using AUAVS drones.

DPI Research Paper and the power of UAVs

Using the data captured by our UAV fleet across the State, the Department of Primary Industries recently published a comprehensive study of marine wildlife populations off 23 beaches along the NSW coast. The data covered a 1,050 km stretch of coastline from 2017 to 2020, allowing researchers to identify and document 3,838 individual animals belonging to 16 different megafaunal taxa. Among these, bottlenose dolphins emerged as the most frequently sighted, comprising a striking 82% of the total megafaunal population. Also studied were whales, sirenians, sea turtles, sharks, pinnipeds, rays and game fish. The paper also revealed significant variations in the spread of marine wildlife across different NSW regions, with the northern regions boasting the highest diversity, and pinpointed crucial factors such as wave exposure and water temperature as leading predictors of habitation. This study exemplifies the remarkable potential of drone technology to advance our understanding of marine ecology and underscores our critical role in conservation and future climate change monitoring. A huge congratulations to all our Operators who have contributed to capturing this essential data. DPI are working on several other studies so keep up the incredible work!

You can read the full manuscript here:

Joshua Lawrence Sunrise Chanel 7
Joshua Lawrence being interviewed about the Port Macquarie shark attack.

AUAVS in the media

Last week an unfortunate shark attack occurred at Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie. Joshua Lawrence, the local UAV Supervisor was on scene to conduct shark patrols and also assisted the media with their enquires. Joshua did such a fantastic job with this interview on Sunrise that you can watch here. Josh’s interview starts from 6:30. Our thoughts are with the Surfer and his family.

Ryan Atkins conducting testing of the DJI Dock.
Ryan Atkins conducting testing of the DJI Dock.

DJI Dock

Further to last months update, The DJI Dock underwent a series of testing and is currently in the research and development phase. The DJI Dock is not yet being rolled out.

Throughout the trial, AUAVS conducted numerous flights in diverse weather conditions, totalling over 24 hours of flight. We also had the chance to test the Dock in conjunction with STARLINK, exploring its possibilities for remote operations. Together with the insights gathered, we continue to work closely with Emergency Service and Government partners to explore the potential of Dock deployment in the UAV industry and other domains, aiming to bring about positive impacts.