On 14 January 2020 the government announced an independent inquiry into the 2019-2020 Victorian fire season would be conducted by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM).

Through this Inquiry, IGEM will examine Victoria’s preparedness for the fire season, response to fires in large parts of Victoria's North East, Gippsland, and Alpine regions, and will review relief and recovery efforts.

Clicking on the sections below will show details on the Inquiry's two phases and Terms of Reference, timing, and community participation.

Terms of reference

 

Phase 1 - Community and sector preparedness for and response to the 2019-20 summer season

Matters for consideration:

  • Effectiveness of emergency management command and control and accountability arrangements in Victoria.
  • Effectiveness of Victoria’s operational response to the 2019-20 fire season.
  • Review of the effectiveness of the declaration of a state of disaster under the Emergency Management Act 1986 – including the appropriateness of supporting legislative and administrative processes, communication, and community compliance.
  • State evacuation planning and preparedness processes/practices and their effectiveness with an emphasis on remote/isolated communities and Victorian peak holiday season locations.
  • The timeliness and effectiveness of activation of Commonwealth assistance, and Commonwealth resource availability
  • Preparedness ahead of the 2019-20 fire season; including the effectiveness of regional emergency management work undertaken to inform and educate the community about the coming season, community engagement, impact of lengthening fire seasons, and any relevant legislation, policy and practice. 
  • Consider all challenges and implications for bushfire preparedness arising from increasingly longer and more severe bushfire seasons as a result of climate change. 
  • In the context of bushfire preparedness, assess the readiness and responsibilities of statutory agencies, Local Government and State Government bodies. 
  • Review of all opportunities and approaches to bushfire preparedness, including different methods of fuel and land management (for example ‘cool burning’, mechanical slashing, integrated forest management, traditional fire approaches) to protect life and property as well as ecological and cultural values.
  • Consideration of the effectiveness of Victoria’s Code Red day arrangements and their application in practice.
  • In considering effectiveness of Victoria’s operational response to the 2019-20 fire season, IGEM should particularly consider:
    • effectiveness of the State’s response priorities, including primacy of life
    • effectiveness of public information and warning systems, including cross-border coordination and communication
    • impact of increasingly longer fire seasons on the ability to prepare, deploy and sustain efforts directed towards emergency events in Victoria
    • impact of providing Victorian responder officers to other Australian jurisdictions to assist with emergency events (as early as September 2019 this summer season)
    • availability and utilisation of private assets and resources (including plant equipment) to support emergency preparedness and response
    • planning and response mechanisms to protect biodiversity threatened by bushfire
    • effectiveness of the existing workforce model to support response, relief and recovery.
  • Review support available to staff and volunteers in terms of mental health and wellbeing.
  • Consideration of the adequacy of existing administrative and funding mechanisms in place at a state level to support the operational response efforts.
  • In considering the timeliness and effectiveness of activation of Commonwealth assistance, and Commonwealth resource availability, IGEM should particularly consider:
    • effectiveness of current national resource sharing arrangements when multiple and simultaneous fire events are occurring
    • effectiveness of existing governance arrangements supporting access to Commonwealth and State air fleets
    • use and integration of Australian Defence Force assets into Victoria’s emergency response and relief operations.
 

Phase 2 – Progress and effectiveness of Victoria’s immediate relief, and recovery arrangements concerning the 2019-20 fire season

Matters for consideration:

  • Effectiveness of immediate relief and recovery work and arrangements, including at the regional and incident levels.
  • Creation of Bushfire Recovery Victoria, the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and how these entities will work together for the benefit of affected Victorian communities, including consideration of long term efforts directed at social, economic (including small business, tourism and agricultural sectors) and environmental recovery.
  • Effectiveness of how roles and responsibilities for recovery have been divided between Emergency Management Victoria and Bushfire Recovery Victoria.

 Timing of the Inquiry

 

Timing of Phase 1 and Phase 2

IGEM will provide the first Inquiry Report into Victoria’s preparedness for and response to the 2019-20 fire season to government by 31 July 2020. This will ensure appropriate consideration and implementation of the report before the next fire season.

IGEM will provide the second Inquiry Report into the effectiveness of progress with relief and recovery arrangements to government by 30 June 2021.

The government will work with IGEM to allow timings of the inquiry to be adjusted to ensure its engagement with emergency management agencies will not impact current response efforts.

 Community participation - sharing your views

 

Submissions

To make sure the Inquiry considers the views and experiences of the community before, during and after the fires, the Inspector-General invites individuals and organisations to make submissions addressing the Terms of Reference.

As the Inquiry is being conducted over two phases:

  • the first report will focus on preparedness and response, and submissions on these topics will be considered until 17 April 2020
  • the second report will focus on relief and recovery, and submissions on these topics will be considered until April 2021.

You are welcome to make more than one submission throughout the Inquiry.

We also understand that if you have been affected by the fires, your views and experiences may change over time. 

The more views and experiences the Inspector-General hears, the more informed he will be to make recommendations that - if implemented - will bring better outcomes for Victorians. 

Making a submission

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

          Online submissions can be provided in Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Filipino, Italian, Persian, and Vietnamese, in addition to English.

How we treat submissions

  • Your submission will become property of the Inspector-General for Emergency Management
  • The Inspector-General for Emergency Management may publish, quote or summarise information provided by you in the Inquiry reports
  • None of our reports include any identifying information
  • The Inquiry reports will be provided to the Victorian Government
  • With your permission, submissions may be published on the website igem.vic.gov.au
  • Let us know if your submission is to remain anonymous and/or confidential
  • Personal details and sensitive information will be removed from published submissions unless you ask for your name to be published
  • You do not need to provide any identifying information unless you want to
 

Survey

Completing IGEM's community survey is another way you can share your views to the Inquiry.

What is the survey asking?

IGEM is using survey to find out about your views on:

  • individual and family emergency plans
  • community emergency plans
  • fuel and land management in the community
  • campaigns and messages
  • information and warnings (including evacuations and the State of Disaster in Victoria)
  • Victoria’s immediate response to the fires

How can I take the survey?

There are two (2) ways you can take the survey: telephone, and online with your smartphone or computer.

Telephone

To take the survey over your phone, please call IGEM on (03) 8684720 or email igem@igem.vic.gov.au (External link) to let us know your:

  • name
  • contact number
  • preferred time for IGEM to call you

Sharing your views on all areas being covered the survey may take some time. For your comfort we suggest being called on a landline, or using your mobile phone's hands-free / speaker option.

Online with your smartphone or computer

You can access the online survey by clicking this link

When does the survey close?

The survey will close on Sunday 26 April 2020.

 

 

Community meetings - frequently asked questions

Recognising the current situation with Coronavirus / COVID-19 we are now holding meetings online.

We will offer face to face meetings again when it is safe to do so.

Why does the Inspector-General want to hear your views and experiences?

The Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) is conducting the independent inquiry into the 2019-20 Victorian Fire Season (the Inquiry).

To ensure the Inquiry considers the views and experiences of the Victorian community before, during and after the fires, the Inspector-General is offering communities several ways to contribute:

What is the purpose of the online meetings?

Online meetings provide an opportunity for individuals from across Victoria to discuss their views and experiences with bushfire preparedness, response and recovery.

The information gathered during the meetings will contribute to the community views in relation to the Terms of Reference.

Meetings will also help the Inspector-General to identify issues for further consideration relating to community preparedness; and the performance of emergency services, government agencies and other organisations involved in bushfire preparedness and response.

Who can join the online meetings?

The Inspector-General would particularly like to hear from communities directly affected by the 2019-20 bushfires, however all interested community members can join the meetings.

Joining a meeting is also an opportunity for any Victorians wanting to share their views or experiences on broader community and emergency management sector preparedness for the 2019-20 fire season.

Media, council staff, government agency, or police and emergency service representatives may also join or listen to these meetings.

If people are not yet ready to share their experiences, there will be opportunities to do so later in the Inquiry, including further face to face meetings when it is safe to do so.

How are the meetings run? ​​​​​​

We are using a cloud-based product called Zoom (External link) that allows people to join a meeting over the internet with their mobile phone, landline or computer.

There are three (3) ways to join a meeting:

  • Option 1: using a laptop/computer
  • Option 2: using a smartphone/tablet
  • Option 3: using a landline/phone call (you cannot see anything via this method)

It’s preferable if you download Zoom before the start time of the online meeting.

To register to join a meeting, go to the bottom of this page to see a list of meetings. Click on your preferred location to take you to the registration page.

Why do the meetings focus around locations?

The meetings are focusing on a range of communities across Victoria.

Each location will provide IGEM with an opportunity to hear a broad range of community experiences of bushfire preparedness and response activities across Victoria.

Some meetings will allow us to specifically hear the views and experiences of many of those affected by the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires.

Register to join a meeting, go to the bottom of this page to see a list of meetings. Click on your preferred location to take you to the registration page.

The locations chosen are intended to provide people the opportunity to join as a community, however anyone is welcome to join a meeting.

What is the format of the online meetings?

The meeting will run for approximately two hours.

The facilitators will set the scene, explain how zoom works and then Inspector-General Tony Pearce will briefly explain the scope of the Inquiry.

Tony will then handover to our facilitators to help each attendee to share their thoughts, views and experiences over the course of the meeting.

Do I need to register to join a meeting?

Yes you will need to register to join a meeting.

After you have registered, you will be sent information on how to access the meeting.

Please register to attend by using the map or list of locations at the bottom of this webpage.

Clicking on the location you're interested in, will bring you to an information and registration page.

How do I join a meeting?

You will need to register to join a meeting.

Please register to attend by using the map or list of locations at the bottom of this webpage.

Clicking on the location you're interested in, will bring you to an information and registration page.

After registering, you will be sent details on how to access the meeting.

Do I need to share my identity to join at meeting?

No.

You will need to register a ‘name’ to enter the meeting. This can be any name you want to use online so the facilitator can involve you in the meeting.

Our facilitator will also ask you to state your first name when you come to the microphone to tell your story/give reflections. 

If your smartphone, tablet or computer has a camera, you can also choose if you want others to see you.

How much will it cost me to join an online meeting?

Zoom uses your internet data to connect you to the meeting.

For a 2-hour meeting we estimate this will mean about 2GB total.

Other than this, there are no other costs.

Do I need to load special software/app? 

No special software is required.

You can work off your preferred internet browser – please note Chrome is the most stable browser for zoom.

It’s preferable if you download Zoom before the start time of the online meeting.

Will my details be retained by IGEM or the meeting host?

No. your details are not stored.

We do not collect any personal information; and the IP addresses are not logged or kept (under Victoria’s Information privacy and data laws). 

How can I share my views if I can't join a meeting?

Written submissions are another way to share your views and experiences. You can make a submission by the following methods:

Community meetings

Recognising the current situation with Coronavirus / COVID-19 we are now holding meetings online.

There are three (3) ways to join a meeting:

  • Option 1: using a laptop/computer
  • Option 2: using a smartphone/tablet
  • Option 3: using a landline/phone call (you cannot see anything with this method)

Please click on the links below for details on how to register for a meeting.

Technical advice on how to join the online meeting is available here (External link).

We will offer face to face meetings again when it is safe to do so.

 

No events are currently scheduled.