Monitoring the implementation of recommendations
On 14 April the Victorian Government released my first progress report on the implementation of actions in response to the Inquiry into the 2019–20 Victorian Fire Season: Phase 1 – Community and sector preparedness for and response to the 2019–20 fire season (Phase 1 report), delivered in July 2020.
The Inquiry’s Phase 1 report made 17 recommendations for improvement, all of which were accepted by government through a commitment to 113 response actions.
This monitoring report also includes the government’s progress in implementing recommendations from the Review of 10 years of emergency management sector reform where they were relevant to the findings of the Inquiry.
In terms of progress against the 139 response actions from both reports I found:
• 48 actions are now complete
• 75 actions remain in progress
• 6 actions are yet to commence.
Below are just a few highlights from this year’s progress report which is available on our website.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is leading the creation of the Office of Bushfire Risk Management to improve the management of fuel on public and private land.
The department is establishing 1447km of statewide strategic fuel breaks by July 2022 and is working with the Department of Transport to upgrade roads and deliver roadside vegetation management, including along major arterial roads where road positioning provides a strategic advantage for bushfire suppression.
Evacuation and traffic management
Victoria Police is improving evacuation and traffic management by conducting training and exercises around the state that incorporate high-risk scenarios like remote locations and popular tourist locations.
The exercises aim to test regional and incident-level agency preparations, planning, and decision-making for managing local community evacuation and traffic management in an emerging incident.
We know there is much to improve to make emergency information more accessible, especially reaching communities that are isolated geographically or who speak languages other than English.
The VicEmergency app will be enhanced with greater translation capabilities and accessibility for people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions is partnering with the Australian Government to strengthen telecommunications for isolated communities in bushfire and disaster-prone areas, with plans for over 300 NBN satellite backup sites statewide. During its pilot phase, 29 satellite backup sites were identified across East Gippsland, Wellington, Alpine, and Towong shires.
If you are interested in government’s implementation plans arising from the Inquiry, you can find them at vic.gov.au/igem-inquiry-review-implementation-plans
I look forward to visiting communities later this year to see and hear how these reforms are being realised in your region.