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.

The sections below provide detail on the Inquiry's two phases and Terms of Reference, timing, and community participation.

 

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 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.

 

Submissions

To ensure 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 15 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 know that the fire season is not over and 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

 

Community meetings

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

Inspector-General Tony Pearce is conducting an independent inquiry into the 2019–20 Victorian Fire Season.

To ensure the Inquiry fully considers the views and experiences of the Victorian community before, during, and after the fires he will be conducting community meetings in the following locations, and on the dates, and times shown below.

Tony will also visit all other fire-affected areas to provide additional, local opportunities for community members to provide their views and experiences.

Further details on venues, and other opportunities to provide your views and experiences to the independent Inquiry will be progressively published on this website, and advertised in state and local media.

We encourage you to register to attend a meeting. Clicking on your preferred location from the list below will take you to an online registration form.

 

Location

Date

Time

Venue

Bonang

Tuesday
10 March

2 - 4 pm

Bonang Hall

Corryong (External link)

Thursday
12 March 

6 - 8 pm

Upper Murray Community Recovery Hub

Wangaratta (External link)

Friday
13 March

6 - 8 pm

Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway

Healesville

Monday
16 March

6 - 8 pm

The Memo

Longwarry (External link)

Tuesday
17 March

11 am - 1 pm

Longwarry Public Hall

Bairnsdale

Tuesday
17 March

6 - 8 pm

Bairnsdale RSL

Mallacoota

Wednesday
18 March

6 - 8 pm

Mallacoota Golf & Country Club

Orbost

Thursday
19 March

6 - 8 pm

Orbost Snowy Rovers Club Rooms

Morwell

Friday
20 March

6 - 8 pm

Kernot Hall

Horsham

Monday
23 March

6 - 8 pm

Horsham Town Hall

Portland

Tuesday
24 March

6 - 8 pm

Portland Civic Hall

Colac

Wednesday
25 March

6 - 8 pm

Colac Otway Performing Arts & Cultural Centre

Bendigo

Thursday
26 March

11 am - 1 pm

 

Ballarat

Thursday
26 March

6 - 8 pm

Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility

Mildura

Friday
27 March

6 - 8 pm

Alfred Deakin Centre

Cann River

Monday
30 March

6 - 8 pm

 

Bemm River

Tuesday
31 March

11 am - 1 pm

Bemm River Community Centre

Lakes Entrance

Tuesday
31 March

6 - 8 pm

Lakes Entrance Mechanics Institute

Buchan

Wednesday
1 April

11 am - 1 pm

 

Bruthen

Wednesday
1 April

6 - 8 pm

Bruthen Mechanics Hall

Omeo

Thursday
2 April

6 - 8 pm

Omeo Community Hall 

Harrietville

Friday
3 April

6 - 8 pm

Harrietville Hall

Geelong

Monday
6 April

6 - 8 pm

 

Melton

Tuesday
7 April

6 - 8 pm

 

Craigieburn

Wednesday
8 April

6 - 8 pm

 

Dandenong

Thursday
9 April

6 - 8 pm