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Lum (Full Interview)

DRLA Executive Director Ky Luu interviews Dr. Gary Lum, Assistant Secretary for the Health Emergency Management Branch in the Office of Health Protection in the Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing

The following are questions were asked during Part 1 of a two-part interview with Dr. Lum.  Part 2 will be released on xxxxx (insert date here).

 Ky Luu's Interview Questions:

1. Dr. Lum, you studied medicine at the University of Queensland and you begin your medical career working in clinical microbiology and pathology. What brought you from clinical practice to working for the Department of Health and Aging? 

And as a following question, I know it’s always difficult to compare and contrast leadership styles, especially when we are comparing the differences between the public and the private sector, but based upon your experiences in Darwin and your leap into bureaucracy, can you perhaps compare and contrast some of the different styles you have noticed? Hear Dr. Lum's Response

2. Now, one of your current responsibilities is to serve as the Incident Coordinator for Australia’s National Incident Room. What core strengths do you believe that on the one hand, you possess that best enables you to serve in this capacity, and perhaps as a follow-up to that, what do you believe core strengths are in general, for anyone that would be given this responsibility? Hear Dr. Lum's Response

3. Dr. Lum, one of the greatest challenges to disaster response I think is effective coordination, and your role as the Incident Coordinator for the National Incident Room, you’re responsible for overseeing the activities of many different government departments and agencies. What have you found to be the primary key to defining a central goal, and coordinating an appropriate response with so many different actors? Hear Dr. Lum's Response

4. Going back a little bit in time here, in 2002 you were the Acting General Manager at the Royal Darwin Hospital, which is the premier hospital of the Northern Territory. And you oversaw the response to the 2002 Bali bombings. What approach did you take to get your hospital, the staff, and the patients through this crisis? 

5. Australia’s response to the Bali bombing has been described as a whole of government response, with government, state, and territory actors participating. Can you describe the coordination strategy that was implemented, and were there lessons learned from this operation that you are currently utilizing? Hear Dr. Lum's response

6. The executive committee that you just described is an extremely interesting concept of operations. Can you provide a little more detail in terms of how it functions, given the fact that it works across various offices and agencies, each with their own leadership. Who runs it, who calls the meetings, and more importantly, how do you implement the recommendations that come out of this executive committee? Hear Dr. Lum's response

7. Australia has been closely monitored by many of the countries in the northern hemisphere as a potential gauge for the upcoming influenza season. What strategies did the Australian Department of Health and Aging, and in particular, the National Incident Room, employ in order to lead an effective response? Hear Dr. Lum's Response

8. So PROTECT is a real-time response to what you were seeing with regard to the H1N1. It was something that did not exist prior to this, correct?

9. As someone who formally worked within the U.S. federal government, I think it is an amazing feat you have all accomplished in a very short period of time. What would you say now has been the most important lesson learned from the current H1N1 response?

10. Finally, what advice would you give to mid- or senior-level professionals who are going to listen to this interview, and who may want to follow in your footsteps?

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