The Safer Sustainable Communities 2003 Australian Disaster Conference provided an opportunity to take stock of the current state of emergency management in Australia and to consider issues facing the emergency management sector into the future. This article sets out to bring together the threads of speakers’ presentations and participants’ comments with some personal reflections and sketch where Australian emergency management stands at present and what some of the issues will be in the future. References can be found at the Conference website (www.ema.gov.au/disasterconference). An analysis of this type is naturally skewed by the Conference Steering Committee’s selection of speakers for the Conference. Our plan was to invite speakers who would present on contemporary and futuristic issues and who also reflected the diverse nature of the sector. Even the choice of the title of the Conference with a focus on Safer, Sustainable Communities and naming of the various streams gave some indication of our pre-conference appreciation of the current state and future direction of the sector. Judging by the response to the Conference which resulted in some 700 delegates, an unprecedented number for an Australian disaster conference, and their subsequent feedback, participants were very satisfied with the quality and range of presentations from over 150 speakers. The Conference closing session also gave participants the opportunity to reflect on their experience at the Conference and to express their views on those issues which had not been addressed as fully as they would have liked.