Saturday, July 13, 2024

Fire strategy calls for co-operation

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The vision for bushfire management in Victoria for the next 10 years has been set out in the recently released Bushfire Management Strategy.

Severe bushfires earlier this year once again highlighted the devastating impacts bushfires can have on our communities, economy and natural environment.

Unfortunately, climate change means these events are becoming more severe and frequent. Their complexity also means fire agencies alone cannot tackle these challenges. Now more than ever, a shared approach for managing bushfire is paramount.

Victoria’s Bushfire Management Strategy is a joint commitment by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) and other land and fire agencies on the direction of bushfire management in Victoria over the next decade. It articulates an agreed strategic approach to managing bushfire in Victoria and spells out that everyone has a role to play in bushfire management.

For individuals, communities and businesses it means staying informed and taking responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing to improve levels of emergency preparedness and build community resilience by understanding bushfire risk and being prepared for bushfires.

This includes preparing properties for the bushfire season, creating a fire plan and acting on it when required and keeping up to date with emergency and fire danger warnings and acting as advised by emergency authorities.

The strategy sets out objectives across seven key domains: people and community safety, critical infrastructure and economic resilience, Aboriginal selfdetermination, ecosystem resilience and nature conservation, informed decision-making, shared responsibility and capability and capacity.

It brings together the work DDECA was already doing with community, local government, scientists and industry.

It reflects the $500 million investment the Victorian government made into reducing bushfire risk following the 2019-20 bushfires and considers how to mitigate and respond to bushfire on all land types, whether public or private. This includes what resources are needed and how they will be used by government department or agency, municipal council or landholder.

The strategy builds on two years of consultation directly with Victorians which identified they wanted greater transparency about government decisionmaking and a voice in how to reduce bushfire risk, strengthen resilience and support recovery.

The strategy is supported by a rolling three-year implementation plan and Victoria’s Bushfire Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Framework. Together, these products will not only drive accountability but also make sure Victorians can have a say in designing actions. They’ll allow DEECA to measure and report on the progress against agreed outcomes, maximise investment and drive continuous improvement.

The strategy was developed in response to recommendations from the Inspector-General for Emergency Management’s Inquiry into the 2019-20 Victorian Fire Season and the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office’s audit into reducing bushfire risks.

Victoria’s Bushfire Management Strategy and supporting documents can be viewed online at vic.gov.au/fire-strategy.

This article appeared in the Corryong Courier, 13 June 2024.

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