Round Table Report – 8 Dec 2015

Wendy Bedggood

At the final Roundtable meeting for the year we were presented with the government’s response to the Inspector General for Emergency Management (IGEM) recommendations on the report into the ‘Performance Targets for the Bushfire Fuel Management Program on Public Land’ which was carried out early in 2015.

It is difficult to summarise all that was presented at the meeting but for those who want more information documents are at the website Several of our local identities star in this document.

The Main points are:

  • The focus is changing from hectare based targets to fire risk reduction targets these are more subjective and a lot harder to measure.
  • As part of the new approach, fire and land managers will work with communities to involve them in decision making about bushfire management all year round.
  • Bushfire risk levels will be different across Victoria, and will be looked at at a local level and will involve local communities to understand what this risk means for local people, property and the environment, and what actions can be taken to reduce this risk.
  • Fuel management will be one of a mix of strategies used to keep communities safer and more resilient to bushfire events.
  • The planned burns will not mean less or more burning, but will identify smarter and more strategic burns.
  • There will be a transition period and until June 2016 the planned burn programs will continue as scheduled for the next 6 months.
  • 2016/2017 the government will use a risk reduction target to guide fuel management on public land, maintaining bushfire risk at or below 70%
  • 2017/2018 Land and fire agencies will combine their efforts to manage fuel loads on private and public land, based on where and how risk can most effectively be reduced.
  • 2020 Ultimately it is seen there will be one fire management sector which will measure all bushfire management strategies against risk reduction in order to invest in the most effective ways to reduce risk.

The Phoenix modelling system is going to be heavily relied on for predicting risk reduction and as with many government things the devil will be in the detail. It was not clear to me how or who the local community engagement would take place.

There has also been a change to the personnel driving the Round table meetings and I am unsure  how and if it will continue into the future.