On 30 July 2021 Inspector-General Tony Pearce delivered the ‘Inquiry into the 2019–20 Victorian Fire Season – Phase 2’ report to the Victorian Government.
Delivery of this second and final report which focuses on the effectiveness and progress of relief and recovery activities and arrangements during and after the fire season, concludes the Inspector-General’s independent Inquiry.
Arrangements for the public release of the Inquiry’s Phase 2 report are now at the discretion of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and IGEM looks forward to the government’s response.
Community contribution has been critical to the Inquiry’s conduct and its outcomes.
While COVID-19 restrictions affected our engagement activities, we were fortunate between periods of lockdown to travel through East Gippsland and the North East and engage personally with many of you and your neighbours at a time when your community was deeply involved in recovery from experiences of the 2019–20 fires.
With Phase 2 of the Inquiry complete, we can share some facts about communities’ contribution during this phase. These are of course in addition to those conducted for Phase 1 of the Inquiry.
Between October 2020 and April 2021:
- 43 one-on-one interviews with community members conducted
- 3 online focus groups held – 23 people attended
- 41 face-to-face community meetings in fire-affected areas – 372 people attended
- 95 surveys completed, with the majority from people who had been impacted by the fires
- 67 written submissions for Phase 2 – 88 per cent from fire-affected area
Implementation of agreed actions and recommendations
The Victorian Government has supported the intent of all recommendations arising from the 2020 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and notes the overlap in reform priorities identified in both the Royal Commission report, and recent IGEM reviews and inquiries.
As an immediate priority, the government is focusing its efforts on implementing actions arising from IGEM’s Review of 10 years of emergency management sector reform and Phase 1 of its Inquiry into the 2019–20 Victorian Fire Season. You can read the government response to both of these reports and find relevant information about government’s implementation plans and progress from vic.gov.au/igem-inquiry-review-implementation-plans
As part of IGEM’s assurance function we will report annually to government on departments’ and agencies’ work implementing these agreed actions. You can find out more about our implementation monitoring at igem.vic.gov.au/fire-season-inquiry/monitoring-implementation-of-recommendations-and-actions
In addition to undertaking our new monitoring activity, we’ll be preparing the Phase 2 community submissions for publication to our website in coming months.
As discussed and agreed at each of the community meetings, the Inspector-General will return annually to the East Gippsland, Alpine and Towong shires to personally update communities on progress of the implementation of recommendations accepted by government.
Again, IGEM would like to sincerely thank all community members who provided their feedback and experiences of relief and recovery throughout Phase 2 and to the Inquiry more generally over the past 18 months.