Humanitarian Training

Training Courses

Training courses
Dookie, Central Victoria
27 April - 30 April 2017
(booked out, to wait list email
15 June - 18 June 2017
(new course to meet high demand)
14 September - 17 September 2017
(filling now)
16 November - 19 November 2017


"Incredibly useful and practical information in a supportive environment. Everyone who works in humanitarian settings will get something out of it. Trainers are patient, supportive and highly skilled not only in their sectoral areas, but in effective and safe training techniques."

Pipp Ross, Australian Red Cross, participant, Feb 2016



Increasingly, humanitarian workers are exposed to insecure environments due to lawlessness, political instability and armed conflict. RedR Australia's Personal Safety, Security and Communications humanitarian training course introduces a recognised approach to managing personal safety, communications and navigation in the field, as well as an overview of individual and team risk management in complex emergency environments. 

Aims and objectives

The course provides participants with the tools to better manage their own security, increase their awareness of risk, and perform their role safely and effectively in the field. We also focus on the mandates of different organisations in an emergency relief operation and the roles of individuals in relation to personal and team security.

By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • understand security risks in humanitarian emergency environments
  • develop personal and team-based strategies to manage risk
  • effectively use communication and navigation devices

Who is this course for?

The Personal Safety, Security and Communications course is designed for people from all professional backgrounds and disciplines, and is open to all RedR Australia Roster members, individuals seeking to work or volunteer in the sector and aid agency staff wanting to learn about personal and team security issues. More experienced humanitarians and aid agency staff will also benefit from this training, as it provides a unique opportunity to enhance their skills, gain fresh insights and share practical experiences with others.

Course outline

  • Trip Planning
  • Security context
  • Communications protocol and equipment
  • Critical incident stress
  • Field preparedness
  • Introduction to maps
  • GPS and navigation
  • Weapons awareness - judging distances
  • Weapons awareness - movement under fire
  • Sexual assault
  • Basics of negotiation
  • Image and acceptance (theory and practice)
  • Vehicle check point/ road blocks
  • Active shooter
  • Hostage and kidnap survival
  • Crowds and mobs
  • Mines and explosives

* Please be aware that this course can be extremely confronting to participants and is physically demanding. Participants are given due warning of this and are expected to recognise this warning on application to the course.

Selection criteria

As places are limited, priority is given to those applicants who:

  • are RedR Australia Roster members or applicants
  • currently work for an operational NGO
  • intend to be volunteer or work in the sector within six months of completing the course

The course is in English and a reasonable proficiency is required for by participants.

Given the physical nature of the course, physical fitness should also be considered as self-selection criteria.

Our Trainers

Our trainers have extensive experience in complex emergencies and natural disasters in Africa, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific. As our trainers are emergency response experts that regularly deploy into global crises, trainers may change from those featured here on the website.

Mark Tell

Mark has worked in the radio and telecommunications field for over 30 years with half of that time spent internationally in more than 20 countries. He has held senior positions in both state and federal government agencies, private sector companies and with the United Nations.

Mark has deployed to numerous UN missions, including Afghanistan, Jordan, Ethiopia, Fiji, Niger, Pakistan and Zimbabwe and was the UN Telecommunications Coordinating Officer in Iraq in 2003 and Sudan in 2004. Mark has worked extensively in Papua New Guinea and also spent 15 months at Davis Station in Antarctica. 

Admir Bajrami

Admir Bajrami works on humanitarian emergencies for World Vision Australia. He is responsible for ensuring the quality and sustainability of the organisation's programs in the Middle East and East Africa. As part of his role, Admir has had short term emergency response deployments in Africa, Asia and Haiti and was the Operations Manager for World Vision's response to the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.

Admir became a RedR associate trainer in 2013 and brings indepth knowledge in Shelter and Non Food Items (NFI), Food Security and Nutrition Programming, Humanitarian Protection,  Sphere Standards, Accountability and Response Management.

Leonie Barnes 

Leonie is a consultant adviser on capacity building and development and aspects of project monitoring and evaluation. She offers expertise in all facets of project management, in both the emergency and development contexts and has more than 18 years’ experience managing emergency response and international development projects in Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. A former logistician and ammunition and explosives expert, she has previously worked with the United Nations in Sudan, Sri Lanka, New York and Kosovo

Leonie has an MBA and diplomas in Vocational Education and Training and Training Design and Development. She has extensive experience capacity building and developing national staff.

Denise Oakenfull

Denise spent two decades in the New Zealand defence force, including time as a senior instructor with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, before joining the humanitarian sector. In 2006, she provided security training for Non-Government Organisation’s in Khartoum and Darfur and, the following year, RedR Australia deployed her as a civil military coordination officer to the United Nations Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan. In 2010, she deployed to Haiti  as a security delegate with the NZ Red Cross. After six months there, she took up a position with UNOPS in Haiti as their field security advisor. Denise has had security roles with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Bangladesh and provided security training to WFP’s headquarters in Rome.  She has a Masters Degree in Terrorism, Safety & Security and a Graduate Diploma in Adult Teaching and Learning. She is married with three adult children and four grandchildren.

Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson’s entire professional career has been spent in the risk management of remote operations overseas.  He is RedR Australia’s Manager of Risk, Safety and Security and was previously, the Operations Manager for youth expedition provider World Challenge. In that role, he had direct responsibility for the training, deployment and safe recovery of 3,000 people working in up to 55 developing contexts annually. 

Over the past 14 years, Dave has worked in partnership with both government and non-government organisations in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, China and Fiji.  He has participated in military aid work in Malawi and worked as a ground volunteer following the fatal flash flooding of Thailand’s Pai province in 2006.  Trained as a Joint Service Mountain Expedition Leader with the British Army, Dave has also conducted risk management training with the UK’s Royal Geographic Society and the Australian Emergency Management Institute. 

Dave was involved in the creation of the UK’s first national standard for the risk management of fieldwork deployments overseas, British Standard 8848.  

Renata Sivacolundhu

Renata Sivacolundhu  spent eight years working as a public information specialist with the United Nations in New York and was the UNHQ focal point for human rights, rule of law and indigenous issues and managed a global information program relating to the Rwanda genocide. She is a communicatons specialist and RedR roster member who recently deployed to Myanmar as an Emergency Communications and Advocacy Officer for the UN Food and Agricultural Office.

For the past five years, she has worked for the Australian Red Cross as an International Humanitarian Law officer and Senior Humanitarian Observer (offshore) in the immigration detention monitoring program, supporting ICRC’s monitoring visits to Nauru and Papua New Guinea. She has a Masters  of International Law and a Bachelor of Commerce/Marketing.

Emma Kettle

A former teacher, Emma started working in the development sector in 2003.  Her role as Manager of Knowledge and Learning at Australian Volunteers International focused on pre-deployment preparation and in-country capacity development training for development volunteers.  During this period, Emma specialised in designing and delivering inter-cultural programmes and training in inter-cultural competence for development workers. 

After a brief sojourn in the private sector as a GM Trainer, Emma set up her own training consultancy and worked across the Middle East and the Asia Pacific. Her clients included AusAID, Emirates Group, Oxfam, Coffey International, the Qatar Foundation for Combatting Human Trafficking and RedR Australia.  Emma joined the staff of RedR as a Senior Humanitarian Trainer in 2013, before taking on management of the International Emergency Response team the following year.  Emma was deployed to the World Health Organization for the Ebola Emergency in 2015 and recently completed a Masters in Disaster and Emergency Management. She is currently Director of Capability at RedR and leads the humanitarian training team and RedR’s Registered Training Organisation.

Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a Detective Sergeant with the Victoria Police Force and has been an operational police officer for 24 years. In 2004, he was seconded to the Australian Federal Police as a member of the International Deployment Group and spent over two years in the Solomon Islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission. His role involved working in remote locations and investigating war crimes committed by various militant groups. He also identified knowledge gaps in local policing and developed strategies for capacity building. 

Paul has been an associate trainer with RedR for the past three years and has completed the UNHCR Safety in the Field: Operating in Complex Security Environments course.


Training testimonials

"Probably the best example of adult training I’ve experienced. The combination of active learning, classroom teaching and group work was superbly organised, generally enjoyable and highly effective at teaching us the basics of personal safety and security.   

"I’m more aware of how to recognise and respond to potential safety or security incidents. I’ve also learned useful tools about how to work more effectively in the field. Some of these are as basic as choosing accommodation, using radios properly, understanding the UN security structure or how to read a crowd more effectively. Some of what I learned will be highly valuable when I visit conflict or high-risk areas. Some of what we learned I hope to never have to use in practice – but at least it’s there in case the worst case scenarios happen."

Phil Lindsay, TEAR Fund, June 2015

“A must for both personal and professional life.”

Sunita Gurung, Australian Embassy, Nepal, Feb 2016

"The skills, knowledge and experience gained from this training are essential for establishing whether you want to/can function in high security environments; and how to do so.

“It (the course experience) will change how I prepare people for deployment with more emphasis on contextual and security awareness prior to deployment. It has given me a better understanding of behavioural/psych competencies required to operate effectively under extreme duress.”

Amy McLachlan, HR Partner (International Deployments) Australian Red Cross, Feb 2016

“Challenging, confronting, thought provoking and fun.”

Stuart Shaw, Feb 2016

“Definitely would recommend to colleagues.”

Samantha Schubert, CBM Australia, Feb 2016

“Highly recommended to anyone doing work in humanitarian/development context in high-risk areas.”

Save the Children staff, Feb 2016

"An accurate simulation of the real risks field workers may be exposed to and the related skills that support a safe assignment or deployment."

Jane Rutelidge, June 2015

"It provides some good practical knowledge coupled with the opportunity to interact with both trainers and participants with extensive field experience that are willing to share with you and provide advice that you may not get elsewhere."

Dylan, June 2015

“(This) training was very constructive and I feel much more prepared to work in conflict situations. I am better equipped to look after my own safety, and the safety of those working around me as well. The rest of the team looked to me for leadership on health and security issues, which left them able to focus on treating the wounded.

Anna Dicker, Médecins Sans Frontières head nurse in Syria, 2012 (attended RedR training prior to deployment) 

Pre-course learning

It is strongly recommended that all participants complete a preparatory on-line package before attending the PSSC. Past experience shows that this will deepen your learning of personal security issues and allow you to contribute more fully to the practical scenarios.

RedR Australia recommends two e-learning courses which are freely available within the humanitarian sector. You may choose the one most suited to your needs:

Further information about each course
Basic Security in the Field
 – United Nations Department of Safety & Security
This is a mandatory on-line course for all candidates wishing in the future to deploy with any United Nations (UN) agency. As well as introducing security material of a general nature, this package focuses on the UN approach to security issues and provides comprehensive information on the UN security system as it operates around the world. The course takes approximately four to five hours to complete.

Stay SafeInternational Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Although this course has been designed primarily for personnel working within the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, it contains a great deal of generic security material and is very well suited to those wishing to deploy with any NGO. The course takes approximately three to four hours to complete.

Certificates of completion
If you finish the online course/s, please bring your certificate/s of completion to Dookie to ensure trainers have an understanding about the proportion of partipants who have completed each course.

Note for RedR Australia Standby Roster applicants
RedR Australia Standby Roster applicants are required to complete the United Nations Basic and Advanced Security in the Field certificates as a prerequisite to being accepted onto the Roster. 

Register online or contact Gemma Gray for more information: +61 3 8341 2666 or

Click Here to Apply

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