"WE saw some pretty nasty things that day but one of the things that stuck with me was that I didn't ever want to be in a position where, when faced with such human suffering, I was completely helpless."
Those were the words from Bundaberg Queensland Ambulance Service clinical support officer Cameron Anderson when he explained how volunteering during the Black Saturday Fires in Victoria in 2009 made him want to become a paramedic.
Mr Anderson said the fires had spurred him into his studies and now, with six years of qualified experience under his belt, he is taking those studies further through a scholarship in Hong Kong.
"The Edith Cowan University, who I am studying Disaster Management through, are sending a small number of student leaders to Hong Kong for a University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Humanitarian Affairs," he said.
"They were looking for some students who were leaders in their community, as they saw it, to go over and take part in that symposium."
Mr Anderson said the aim of the week-long event was to build leadership skills for future leaders in the international humanitarian space.
"What I am hoping to achieve is to learn some leadership skills that will allow me to take the disaster management lessons learnt from here in Australia and apply them in the Asia Pacific context for some of the more developing nations," he said.
Having experienced his fair share of natural disasters, Mr Anderson said the one thing that is a hallmark in all of them is the humanitarian disaster that follows.
"The thing that makes a disaster a disaster is when hazard and vulnerability combine. Invariably, there is a humanitarian impact there and certainly we saw it in Bundaberg during the floods where there were a lot of displaced residents," he said.
"It's very tempting to think of a disaster as just being the fire or the flood and the immediate response to that. In reality, the key to whether a community is resilient and whether a community recovers really comes down to how we manage the humanitarian effects."
Mr Anderson will travel to Hong Kong on August 1 to participate in the symposium.
"This is an opportunity to learn some leadership skills that will help me put the theoretical knowledge that I learn there into action and to galvanise others into action as well," he said.