The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommends that Victoria Police – in collaboration with the community and the emergency management sector – reflect on events of the 2019-20 fire season to review and enhance evacuation plans and processes with consideration of:
a) high risk areas (including remote locations)
b) early evacuation triggers
c) the potential for isolated communities
d) the presence of tourists and non-residents
e) individual decisions to not evacuate
f) the inability to evacuate
g) consequence management and compounding events such as the loss of essential services or health impacts.
Victoria Police, in collaboration with relevant agencies, will update the Joint Standard Operating Procedure (JSOP) for evacuations and other relevant doctrine to incorporate learnings from evacuations during the 2019-20 summer. This work will be completed in two phases (with priority actions completed before the upcoming season, followed by consideration of longer-term actions).
IGEM notes that EMV leads the updating and publication of evacuation JSOPs and guidelines in coordination with agencies including VicPol. JSOPs and guidelines are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain current and incorporate recent learnings.
In the second half of 2020, the EMC approved:
- updated JSOP 3.12 – Evacuation for Major Emergencies (October 2020)
- updated Evacuation Guidelines (October 2020)
- updated JSOP 3.10 – Traffic Management at Emergencies (December 2020)
- updated Traffic Management Point Guidelines (December 2020).
VicPol has approached this action through the revision of its internal guidance for evacuations. Exercise Praesidio in October 2019 (refer to Action 11.7) identified misalignment between JSOP 3.12 and the guidance documents in use by VicPol.
VicPol advised that work commenced on amending the internal guidance but remained in progress at the time of the 2019–20 fires and that lessons from evacuation planning and return operations during the fires reinforced that amendments were required.
VicPol provided IGEM with revised internal guidance reflecting changes authorised in December 2020, following consultation with organisations including DELWP, FRV, CFA, Ambulance Victoria, DoT and VICSES, to ensure consistency with the recently updated JSOP 3.12.
VicPol advised IGEM that the longer-term activity referred to by this action consists of evacuation and traffic management related training as per Action 11.10, therefore IGEM will continue to monitor implementation through that action.