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13 things Victoria could do to prepare for next summer's fires

IMGP8794.JPGAustralia suffered through a terrible summer. The 2019–20 bushfires have been described as 'the worst bushfires in our history’. Australia wide, approximately 19.4 million hectares have burnt since 1 July 2019 and at least 33 people dead. It has been estimated that a billion animals died. More than 2,500 homes were destroyed, with more than 300 in Victoria.

In Victoria, more than 1.2 million hectares have been burnt—making it the largest bushfire since 1939.

Now the Victorian government is holding an independent investigation into the 2019–20 fire season. It is being led by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management, and is looking at Victoria's ‘preparedness for, and response to, the current fire season, as well as review Victoria's recovery effort’. Submissions to this process are open until the end of April and preliminary recommendations are due on 31 July 2020.

We urge our members and supporters to make a submission.


The process

There are two phases. The current phase covers ‘Community and sector preparedness for and response to the 2019-20 summer season’.

It has a series of Terms of Reference, or TORs. You can respond to which of the TORs that are relevant to you.

Individuals and organisations are invited to provide submissions, addressing the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, through:

Inspector-General for Emergency Management
GPO Box 4356
Melbourne VIC 3000

There is also an online survey you can take. Depending on how many of the questions you answer, this will probably take about 15 minutes. You can access the online survey by clicking this link.


What to include in a submission

Obviously that is up to you.

There is a submission guide from the Victorian National Parks Association here. You can cut and paste which of these you agree with and send to the contact details above.

Friends of the Earth also has some suggested points to make in a submission. Here are 13 things that would build our capacity to deal with future fires:

  • increase funding for state government firefighters, including remote area firefighters
  • allocate annual funding to purchase firefighting aircraft
  • establish a new volunteer remote area fire force
  • create opportunities for urban based people to join firefighting efforts
  • rule out ‘Salvage logging’ of burnt forests
  • listen to the science and resist simplistic ‘more burning will solve the fire problem’ responses. Fuel reduction burning is a tool, not a panacea
  • stick with the "targeted risk reduction" approach. Hectare targets are not the solution
  • establish local volunteer GreenFire groups to work with land managers on fuel load management
  • continue to support Cultural burning programs
  • consider the contribution of native forest logging to forest flammability
  • rule out salvage logging of burnt areas
  • the state government should take a leadership role to educate the Victorian community about the fact that climate change will make fire seasons longer and more destructive
  • Victoria should continue to reduce carbon emissions in line with the recommendations of mainstream climate science

For a full copy of our submission, including our full list of detailed recommendations, or if you would like extra information to help prepare a submission, please contact [email protected]


Images: fire at Dinner Plain, Jan 4, 2020.


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