Series 503 - Joe Barr's collection of Pacific disaster management publications and research material

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Joe Barr's collection of Pacific disaster management publications and research material


  • 1970 - 2013 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

Approximately 26 Type 1 boxes; including 1 album of colour photographs (without negatives) and 1 box of slides

Context area

Name of creator

(29 April 1941 -)

Biographical history

Joe Barr was born on 29 April 1941 in Preston, England. The family moved to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1948 and then to Kampala, Uganda, in 1951. He went to school in in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi but left at the age of 15 to join the Royal Navy as a boy seaman. He left the Royal Navy in 1971 having served 12 years as aircrew (Observer/Navigator) in Fleet Air Arm helicopters in a variety of roles. He emigrated to Australia in 1971 and worked for 2 years as an Air Traffic Controller. In 1973 - 1974 he was an assistant office manager in Melbourne before moving to Canberra in 1974 to join the then Marine Operations Centre (later Australian Coastal Surveillance Centre) as a marine search and rescue coordinator. When he left the position in 1981, he was the Controller (Operational Manager) and he then joined the National Disasters Organisation (later Emergency Management Australia) as a planning officer.
Transferred to the Refugees and Disasters Section of what is now AusAID in the early 1980s, he worked as an overseas disasters liaison officer with special interests in the development of disaster management assistance to Pacific countries. He was involved in Australian aid support programs following regional disasters in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa as well as Cambodia. In 1994 he returned to Emergency Management Australia (EMA) as the Director of Policy, Planning and Operations and spent periods acting as Director General. Set up in 1974 to coordinate national disaster management, EMA was an independent, low-profile organisation of about 70 personnel in Canberra and the Australian Department of Defence, answering directly to the Minister for Defence, Robert Ray.

In 1995, Joe Barr was nominated by Australia to become the first Australian member of the international UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assistance and Coordination) Team. In 1996, he retired from the Public Service to set up 'Pacific Emergency Management Associates', based in Canberra (ACT) as a consultancy agency, which he ran until his retirement in 2007. During this period he participated in UNDAC post-disaster missions to the Seychelles (flood), Papua New Guinea (tsunami and drought), Turkey, Afghanistan, Indonesia, India (earthquake) and East Timor (post Indonesian departure).

Other consultancies were to the European Union, AusAID, the United Nations Development Program and other UN Agencies, USAID, Emergency Management Australia, various Pacific regional organisations, mostly involved in training and development activities, including developing manuals, project design and workshop planning. He developed the first Australian disaster management assistance programs for Pacific countries and worked in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Philippines, East Timor, Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

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Scope and content

The collection consists of disaster and research reports, disaster preparedness workshop training manuals, seminar papers, consultancy management files, newspaper clippings, small publications and ephemera, a large number of SOPAC (Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission) and United Nations reports, and documents created when Joe Barr was engaged as a consultant in relation to disaster management in the Pacific Islands. Of particular significance are the photographs and slides taken immediately following disasters in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Cambodia, Turkey, Afghanistan, India and Indonesia.


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Conditions governing access

Open access

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Language of material

  • English

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Finding aids

The collection has not been listed by the ANU Pacific Research Archives but a Box List was made by the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, including items sent to SOPAC for copying. This list (at reference: ANUA 503) is available for consultation upon request from the Reference Officer at the ANU Archives,

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Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Items 1 to 579 in the PMB Box List (ANUA 503) are available online through the Pacific Disaster net:

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Notes area


The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PMB) transferred the collection from Joe Barr’s house/business, 3 Pomeroy Street, Dunlop ACT to PMB on 10 November 2009. The collection of approximately 2,000, mainly conference reports, ephemera, grey publications and reports (United Nations), leaflets and publications on Pacific disaster risk management, were gathered by Joe Barr, a retired disaster-management consultant living in Canberra. The collection was stored by PMB who made a Box List of the collection. Some material was sent for copying to the Pacific Disaster Net at The collection was received by the Pacific Research Archives in three batches. The first part of the collection (2 cartons of papers and photographs/slides) was received on 29 January 2013 ; another box of professional work documents was received on 1 August 2013; then 28 boxes and 1 map were received on 8 October 2013. The Bureau copied part so fthe collection (see PMB ) and had been working with Jutta May, Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) Librarian, Suva, arranging for the digitisation and disposition of parts of the collection.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by Christine Bryan on 21 May 2014




ANUA List 530 (box list created by the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau)

Communications between Christine Bryan and Joe Barr on 21 May 2014

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