(Audio) Insight into Security & Logistics with Pete Docwra, a G20 Leaders’ Summit Executive

In this interview, Lauren chats with Pete Docwra about all things security and logistics in major events. We explore elements of security, advice for event organisers in planning their security and logistics in major events, leading large teams and his key takeaways from the G20 Leaders’ Summit.

To listen, press play below; 


What to read the interview? see the transcription below;

Let me start by introducing Pete Docwra. He has planned and delivered major events in Australasia specialising in all aspects of logistics, security, public safety, accreditation, ICT and transport. One of the events is the G20 Leaders’ summit.  Pete also served for the Australian Army for 35 years in positions of operations, intelligence, training, in Australia, PNG, Iraq, and the US.

It was the G20 Leaders’ summit that we met. Pete specializes in working with governments and event organisers to start the logistics and security planning for major events.

It’s an absolute honour to chat with Pete today.

Pete, an incredible experience that you have, let us explore further why event security important to you?

Pete: Thanks Lauren, it’s a pleasure to be here. Event security is important because every event organizer wants to ensure that their event is safe, secure and has also enjoyable experience and obviously the safe and secure part of it is only going to come about from our investment in the planning for security and in the delivery of security.

Can you explain further about what you do, what your background is and what you are doing now?

Pete: Yes, thanks again for the introductions. I have a background as you’ve said in defence and part of that is I guess a natural sort of link towards security and logistics, for security in transport security for people and security for facilities. So I have taken that knowledge and moved into the events world and used the understanding of how you need to operate in a secure environment without impinging on what you need to do. So, that’s the background I’ll bring to the events world and I have found that all that knowledge certainly works for the events that we are involved in.

This leads us into the G20 leaders’ summit, hosting 20 plus of the world leaders in Australia, what were your key takeaways?

Pete: First and foremost, I think it was an incredible experience, I must admit like many of us I had that moment of wow the world’s top 20 leaders are here and let’s hope we get it right.  I think the key take-aways out of that for me was that it only succeeded because of;

  • good planning
  • good people
  • and a little bit of good luck, to make it happen.

So, they are the sort of take-aways and I think that pretty well is true of any event, I mean a massive event for Australia, but for any event, I think they are sort of the three good things to live by.

Excellent, thank you for that insight.  What would you say are the common misconceptions in the event industry? If you could list three, what would they be?

Pete: I think first and foremost, there is still a tendency that security is someone else’s problem. it’s the problem of the police or its the problem of other security agencies and that I as an event organizer don’t have to worry about it. Probably the other one is, not learning from the lessons; good or bad from other events, and the third one is that, there is a level of complacencies that there is no threat to my event, they are the common things I hear and see and I think that is probably replicated around the world, from talking to other colleagues in similar positions to what we do.

Thanks Pete, that is a really interesting insight.

(Inaudible 04:27) In Australia as you are aware, we have the National Terrorism Threat Advisory System.  Australia is currently listed as PROBABLE… Can you explain what does it mean, and who decides this?

Pete: Yes thanks. Probable means that there is an intent and capability by people to do harm in Australia. Those ratings and those assessments are made by the national security agency, so agencies like the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement agencies and what that really means for event organizers is that there is a possibility that a threat will occur at any place, at any time, so that’s what probable means. It’s not specific to any location or it’s not specific to any type of event, it’s generally to anything that, you know, occurs across Australia.

It’s not specific to any location or it’s not specific to any type of event, it’s generally to anything that, you know, occurs across Australia.

Thank you Pete, that’s really informative.

As you just stated the PROBABLE is not particular to one event or location, so what advice would you give to event organisers across Australia?

Pete: I think first and foremost is recognize that there is a range of threats that apply to any event and they could from a violent attack, through to a hostile vehicle through to theft. What does change for each event is the likelihood and that’s key. To my earlier point about event organisers should take and should be involved in assessing the security threat for their event as early as possible and that once you do that, you get a very good appreciation of what might go wrong and plan accordingly.

Thank you Pete. In your role, you lead teams of security, transport, accreditation, access control just to mention a few… How do you go about implementing such a complex program?

Pete: First and foremost, you always think that it’s not complex otherwise you sort of, wake up in the middle of the night, thinking what am I doing… the first thing is, it’s all integrated, everybody in those complex work streams should be working towards the same goal.   It’s never a case of just do transport or just to do accreditation, everything interlinks and everything is integrated and therefore everybody should have the same goal.   Certainly, things that we have seen work very well is that you bring all your functional teams together often to discuss issues.  Never allow stove pipe planning or planning to be done at all isolation and again from a security perspective, bringing the security folks in, as part of that mix, it will always lead to success.

Brilliant, thank you, it’s so much clearer.

Now in terms of the event world, how important is the event staffing and training to you within all those work streams?

Pete: Absolutely critical. People make events happen.  It’s not technology, it’s not a checklist, it’s not something that you have done before or something you can outsource. The best events I have seen is where teams are brought together early and that you do everything you can to develop that team and keep that team together because they will serve you well.

Brilliant, thank you. 

Just recently on LinkedIn, I saw a fantastic article about the three circles of security, can you expand further on this?

Pete: I think there is also perception of security starts at the front door of a venue or the entrance to a stadium or that one of the things that defense teaches is the principle called “defence in depth” so, it’s really putting… thinking about it at the earliest possible geographic location and so from an event perspective, in my view the security starts at the transport.  You know, whether an airport or is there is a bus station or whether it’s the car park and then you think about the security there, then you think of the next layer in terms of what’s in the immediate precinct of the venue or your stadium and then what’s in your stadium, so, that’s the sort of layer effect and all of those things can… considering it in that way will enhance security at the venue or the particular venue.

Now, within the venue there is a whole bunch of things you can do to enhance security as well as beyond just having private security or police in your venue. Access control, considering the timing of your event, the location of your event, your crowd numbers, publicity for your speakers, evacuation routes… it goes on… So, it’s not about just having private security or police, it’s isn’t the only solution to security.

Okay, yeah, that’s a really good insight the layered “Defence in Depth”

In your words, what would you say is the biggest obstacles for event organisers when they’re putting together or approaching a security program?

Pete: I think first and foremost, is again the appreciation of the threat and what’s actually needed in practical steps to achieve that safe and secure environment or experience.   We are seeing across Australia now that, to go into venues and sport stadiums they are looking at full body scans and there are concrete bollards; certainly necessary but there are also other ways to ensure security. So it’s never just about having some physical security or just increasing the numbers, I think it’s taking that holistic approach to security, in my view it will lead to a greater experience at whatever the event is.

Okay, excellent, thank you Pete.

Now coming into Pete’s world, what are you most proud of?

I think I am most proud of the G20, again it’ a lot of people put a lot of hard work into something that was made and enhanced Australia’s reputation for delivering great events but also as I go back to a very personal level to just think about that… we had those 20 world leaders and they had a great experience in Australia and we were all part of making that happen, it’s probably what I  am most proud of.

Beautiful, excellent, thank you Pete.

Finally, your number one tip to event organizers?

Pete: Start your planning as early as you can and bring your team and your key staff on as early as you can, it means that you’ve got options, you can be innovative, you have time to think through stuff, rather than being time-pressured into poor outcome.

Brilliant, thank you. plan early!

So, if you could go into a time machine and speak to your 20-year old self, what would you say?

Pete: Never doubt yourself, never doubt yourself, have faith in your instincts and never shoot below what you think you can achieve and just go for it.

Beautiful, that is beautiful…

And finally, the last question… If you were a hashtag, what would it be?

Pete: That’s a good question, I’d say Hashtag Go for it (#GoForIt), never think you cannot achieve the goal and you know be brave and go for it.

Lauren: Beautiful, #GoForIt, we will link that into this podcast. Thank you very much Pete, absolute pleasure to have a chat with you today and wishing you all the best with working with your regional governments.

Pete: Thanks Lauren, I appreciate it.


If you would like to get in touch with Pete Docwra, you can reach him on;

Email: peter.docwra@bigpond.com

Linkedln: Peter Docwra 


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