Peter Baines

Leading Disaster Management Specialist


Peter Baines OAM, is one of Australia’s leadership experts having road-tested leadership the hard way. Peter spent 22 years with the NSW Police leading teams in response to acts of terrorism and natural disasters on a scale not previously seen.

Current Work:

Peter was part of the leadership team that responded to Bali after the bombings in 2002 and was called in 2005 to lead international teams in response to the Tsunami of December 26, 2004 in South East Asia. Peter headed up multiple rotations into Thailand leading international teams in the identification process of those who died.

All the time his leadership theories were tested in this trying environment. Creating sustainable leadership became a passion of his after witnessing the devastating effects of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. He was deeply touched by the number of children left without parents by the disaster and was inspired to set up an organisation that could make a significant difference in the lives of these children. In late 2005, Hands Across the Water was formed to raise funds for, and awareness of, the children of Thailand who were left alone. Today Hands has raised over $30 million Australian dollars. With this, they have built several homes all across Thailand, purchased a rubber plantation to ensure a sustainable and regular income, and constructed a community centre in the Khao Lak region of Thailand and a Digital Learning Centre in the Northeast. Hands, now have operations in seven different locations within Thailand and provide a home to several hundred children every night.

The work of the charity has always taken a different approach to most in that they focus on creating meaningful shared experiences for their supporters. A cornerstone event of the work of Hands are the long-distance bike rides that you will find Peter leading throughout the year in Thailand. After a two- and half-year hiatus, Peter returned to complete his 31st ride leading supporters and corporate groups alike.
Today Peter spends his time helping businesses build effective Sustainable Leadership programs through the unique mix of his leadership and corporate social responsibility initiatives. He continues with his work in supporting the kids and communities of Thailand through Hands Across the Water. Peter has written two books Hands Across the Water, published by Pan MacMillan and Doing Good by Doing Good, published by Wiley. He regularly appears as a guest on a variety of podcasts and loves hosting the Hands Heroes podcast.
When not travelling for work you are likely to find Peter with his wife Claire on their rural property tending to the Hereford cattle they bred or in the skies above flying helicopters.

Previous Experience:

His final years with the NSW Police were spent on secondment to the National Institute of Forensic Science where he worked on national and international capacity-building projects around counter-terrorism and leadership. He spent time advising Interpol in France and the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime in South East Asia. Peter was engaged by the Government of Saudi Arabia following the deadly floods in Jeddah, to review their response and provide advice concerning crisis mitigation and leadership. In 2011 he deployed in Japan in response to the tsunami that would claim thousands of lives there.

Peter has received various awards including an Order of Australia Medal in 2014, for his International Humanitarian work, and in 2016 he was awarded The Fifth Class of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn awarded by the King of Thailand In 2010 he was a NSW finalist for the Australian of the Year awards and he was the first Australian to be awarded the international honour of a Rotary Professional Excellence Award in 2008. He received the NSW Police Service Medal and the Australian Federal Police Operations Medal, for his work in Asia. He was the first NSW Police Officer to be awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal and Australian National Medal.

He has completed university studies in Law, Forensic Science and post-graduate studies in Management.


Talking Points
Leadership without Authority