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14 bullets later.


Derrick McManus was a Police Officer was shot 14 times in less than five seconds and lying on the ground for three hours, with massive life-threatening injuries, before he was rescued.

They predicted he was dead. They predicted he would struggle to survive surgery. They predicted he would never walk properly. They predicted he would never go back to work. When he said he wanted to go back to the elite STAR Group, they literally laughed in his face.

They were wrong every time.

Two-and-a-half years later Derrick returned to full duties with the elite SA Police Special Tasks And Rescue (STAR) Group.

A real-life story of triumph over tragedy. It’s a dramatic and captivating ‘peek behind the curtain’ to see how Police Special Operations Units prepare for and manage extremely volatile and uncertain situations and how one man defied the odds and survived what no one thought possible. Derrick delivers this with an intelligent and cheeky sense of humour that reinforces every message.

Current Work
As a keynote speaker, Derrick is powerful, commanding, thought-provoking, life-affirming, charismatic and discerning in his message. But his message goes much deeper than the powerful and inspiring story. This is more than survival, more than resilience. This is about building the capacity for Human Durability - our capacity to thrive, physically and mentally, under any pressure.

In 2016 Derrick founded the Australian Centre for Human Durability to produce high-performance leaders who have the mental fitness, agility and strength to confidently lead, survive and thrive in any environment. This is world-first research, and his keynotes and workshops have such high impact he has formed research collaborations with the University of South Australia’s School of Psychology and The Australian Centre for Post-Traumatic Stress.

There couldn’t be a better message or a better speaker in this time of global pandemic that is going to affect our families, businesses, economies and global interactions, physically and mentally, for years to come.

Derrick brings his passion for family, his background in special operations, his successes, his challenges and his ongoing research to every stage, every interaction. Engaging with Derrick is transformational for the person, the team and any organisation.

Participants in the RAAF High-Performance Program summed up Derricks’ impact when they asked their commanders, “How do we spend more time with Derrick?”

Derrick is intelligent, grounded, authentic and has a quick wit and a wicked sense of humour that allows him to engage and connect with everyone.

Previous Experience

For 11-years Derrick was a Police counter-terrorist operative (trained by military SAS), sniper and special ops diver with the elite Special Tasks And Rescue (STAR) Group. They were trained for the safe resolution of high-risk incidents. Selection for STAR Group is gruelling to ensure members can sustain high-performance (leadership, perseverance, focus, grit, problem-solving etc) as well as mental well-being in any situation.

In an operation to arrest a high-risk offender, Derrick was shot 14 times with a Chinese military assault rifle. He was isolated from his team and bleeding from severed arteries in both forearms, massive torso injuries, two bullets in the left thigh, a bullet through the right Achilles tendon and more for three hours. The first doctor said, “All the textbooks say he should be dead … I actually don’t know how he survived, he’s an amazing human being.”

Derrick defied the odds and proved predictions wrong by merely surviving. He did it again by thriving, physically and psychologically, well beyond what anyone could imagine.

Recovery: Two-and-a-half years of arduous rehabilitation. There were tears, there were doubts and there was exhaustion. Then there was the drive of family, teammates and Derricks’ unyielding passion to be able to play, as normally as possible, with his children.

As his fitness and strength improved, he set new goals and dreams to include a return to full duties in the elite STAR Group. People literally laughed to his face but that didn’t deter him. He knew that they didn’t understand his passion to achieve what is most important to him.

He achieved the good life with his children very quickly and two-and-a-half years after the shooting, despite still carrying huge physical disablements, he returned to full duties with STAR Group.

Just three months after the shooting, Derrick met with an internationally renowned trauma psychiatrist and was immediately, psychologically, cleared to return to STAR Group and never required to see any psychiatrist again, unless he chose to.

However, 3 years after the shooting he was diagnosed with mild depression and PTSD as a result of divorce, separation from his children, fractured friendships and then his dog died. Derrick immediately accepted the diagnosis and did everything the doctor advised. 1 month later he went for a check-up and was completely cleared.

Again, he defied the odds.

Television: He has been featured on A Current Affair (Ch 9), I Survived (Fox) and Good Morning Australia (Ch 7) and others, as well radio in almost every state. He is very willing to engage with media to support your event and your message if requested.

He has spoken at conferences all over Australia, USA, New Zealand and Singapore. More recently he has spoken virtually to Australian and international audiences too. Whether it’s opening or closing a conference; a mid-conference workshop or breakout, as a panellist or delivering an in-house program, Derrick will have audiences thinking and acting differently within minutes, he’ll influence positive workplace cultural change and will ensure your event is remembered for years to come.

Talking Points

Human Durability - sustaining optimum performance

Get Your Head in the Game of winning - Mindset and Strategies for Success

Taking Responsibility for Choices and Consequences - a Rare Commodity in Business Today

Changing ‘Back to Basics’ into ‘Know Your Base Line’ - reset for success

Mental Health/PTSD/Depression

A Thousand Possibilities - problem solving

Managing Risk - Derrick loves risk but survival was dependent on risk management not risk taking.

Optimising High-Performance

Focussing merely on peak performance leads to burnout, stress and depression. Let’s sustain optimal performance instead.
So powerful that we booked Derrick for conferences in four states. Austbrokers Holdings Ltd

Westfield was looking for a speaker who could demonstrate the importance of (1) operating as a professional team, (2) planning and preparing for all eventualities, (3) setting and delivering goals. Derrick’s life experience was a natural fit and in addition he was able to structure his speech to touch on our corporate objectives. The audience was inspired by his courage, tenacity and honesty and having listened to and/or engaged over 20 motivational speakers I rate Derrick as one of the best we have encountered.

Security Westfield

You'll get a lot out of Derrick. He holds your interest. He will inspire you. He is so energetic and enthusiastic. Most importantly, he shows a genuine interest in you and what you need

Macquarie Wealth Management

Derrick’s situation was such that I felt many parallels could be drawn to illustrate goal setting, teamwork, perseverance and determination, training, focus and courage. He delivered his talk in a very natural, open and insightful manner. It had a very positive effect on my staff.


If Derrick could conjure up all the will power to endure what he did, and win through, then so can we.” This is exactly the commitment we were looking for in our people.

Mitsubishi Motors Aust.

When you talk to Derrick, his warmth, authenticity, humour, intelligence and genuine desire to impart knowledge mean you want to stay talking to him for hours

Madhavi Nawana Parker, Behavioural Consultant

All my people said after the program was, “How do we spend more time with Derrick?

RAAF Air Warfare Centre, Innovation Hub
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