Impacts of bushfires in Victoria
The New Approach
Safer Together is our new approach to reducing the risks of bushfire, it focuses on how effective our actions are in reducing risk, not just the amount of activity we undertake.
This new approach sees us move from a hectare target for planned burns, to a risk reduction target for bushfire management. It means a more integrated approach across public and private land, with fuel management just one of the range of different management actions we will take to protect lives, homes, jobs and the environment.
Inspector General Emergency Management Recommendations
In February 2015, the Government asked the Inspector-General for Emergency Management for an independent comparison of the existing hectare target approach to bushfire fuel management on public land with an alternative risk reduction target. The Inspector-General made the following recommendations:
A risk-reduction target as the most effective form of performance target for bushfire fuel management on public land to protect life and property and guide investments in fuel reduction burning.
The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommends that DELWP:
- Continue to develop and employ its capability to predict the smoke effects of planned burning, ensuring its planned burning processes remain consistent with the State Smoke Plan.
- Adopt performance measures to monitor the quality and effectiveness of community engagement activities.
- Continue to develop the reliability of its estimates of unit risk-reduction costs. The availability of such estimates will be required to enable comparison and prioritisation of options for bushfire risk-reduction across the areas of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, and would involve contributions of other emergency management agencies.
In the event that government adopts a risk-reduction target:
- The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) transitions to this target through a defined program of activities and milestones. Effective transitioning will require DELWP to enhance their capacity and capability to implement risk-based planning and needs to be supported by appropriate performance measures and dedicated monitoring, evaluation and review.
- Government supports DELWP in making this transition.
The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommends that:
- DELWP report clear, publicly accessible information on bushfire risk and ecosystem resilience, and report on the key activities required to achieve outcomes for the community in these areas.
- DELWP's transition to risk-based planning and performance measurement is supported by a program of internal and external reviews.
The Government accepts these recommendations by the Inspector-General and will adopt a risk reduction target to guide our fuel management on public land.
Why We Need A New Approach To Bushfire Risk
The aim has always been to reduce risk from bushfires, with planned burning being only one of a range of tools available to reduce risk. Using a hectare target to guide planned burning meant we increased our activity, but it didn't tell us how effective our actions were at reducing risk. It didn't take into account that some areas in the state are more or less likely to be impacted by bushfires, or that too much planned burning can damage ecosystems.
The new approach is about:
- better assessing where and when to use fuel management and other risk reduction activities
- avoiding unacceptable impacts on the environment and communities
- better integration across public and private land
- land and fire managers working together and with communities to plan and deliver integrated bushfire management
- involving local communities in decision making, drawing on local values and insights to promote resilience
- using world-leading science to manage fire and ecosystems.
Delivering The New Approach
Firstly, government will use a risk reduction target to guide fuel management on public land, maintaining bushfire at, or below 70%
Then, land and fire agencies will combine their efforts to manage fuel loads on private and public land, based on where and how we can most effectively reduce risk.
Ultimately, working as one fire management sector, we will measure all of our bushfire management strategies against risk reduction, so we can invest in the most effective ways to reduce risk.