The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommends that Emergency Management Victoria – in collaboration with the community and emergency management sector:
a) updates the 2012–13 State Emergency Risk Assessment to include strategic and operational elements of emergency management.
This should consider:
- the place-based risk assessment development through the community emergency risk assessment process
- consequence management capability across the sector
- existing risk models for natural and human-induced hazards.
b) provides guidance and support for the sector on how to incorporate the updated risk assessment in emergency management planning, policy development, decision-making and assurance activities.
DELWP and DJCS will lead a review of the legislative framework and consider legislative change to:
- enable more effective planning and delivery of bushfire management across different land tenures and responsible agencies
- support greater interoperability
- ensure all firefighters (including volunteers) have sufficient legal protections when carrying out fuel management, and
- consider any relevant legislative recommendations from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
Legislative changes will be introduced in 2022.
The review will:
- ensure accountabilities for fuel management are clear, and consistent with the principle of shared responsibility,
- maintain individual rights and responsibilities while also enabling land and fire agencies, public authorities, councils, private organisations and individuals to work together to manage fuel on public and private land
- enable land and fire management departments and agencies, including DELWP, the CFA, local government, DoT and other land managers, to conduct fuel management on any land where mutual agreement exists
- identify any measures required to better enable Traditional Owners to carry out cultural fire
- ensure consistent protections and immunities for all personnel, including volunteers, when carrying out fuel management activities on behalf of their legislated organisations
- consider the role of an expanded Code of Practice for Bushfire Management
- examine the need for change to regulatory tools such as fire permits, and
- enable to end-to-end bushfire risk management framework for all public and private land in Victoria, such as powers to create plans or standards for how land and fire agencies manage bushfire risk.
DELWP and DJCS (EMV) are leading the legislative framework review which will deliver a recommended package of legislative amendments to government and the ministers responsible for bushfire risk management legislation, including alternative options where relevant.
In October 2021 SCRC approved a request to extend the due date for the delivery of this action to July 2023 to allow sufficient time to engage with stakeholders.
The Fuel Management Legislative Review IDC has been established, comprising executives from DELWP and DJCS (EMV) which meets regularly to provide oversight. This IDC is supported by the Fuel Management Legislative Review Working Group. The working group consists of government departments, fire services agencies, land managers, Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Office of Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM), and provides advice to the IDC on the review.
In July 2022 DELWP developed a discussion paper describing key issues with the current legislative framework, opportunities for improvement and the key outcomes to be achieved by the review. The discussion paper will inform a series of workshops to be held with the working group from July to September 2022. The workshops will explore identified issues and provide members with the opportunity to suggest improvements to fuel and broader bushfire management across public and private land. The workshop outcomes will inform the development of policy options for public consultation and government consideration in 2023.
IGEM notes that the scope of the legislative review does not include identifying measures required to better enable Traditional Owners to carry out cultural fire. DELWP instead intends to work with Traditional Owners to progress their aspirations for cultural fire and broader bushfire management through its review of the Code of Practice for Bushfire Management on Public Land (2012) and a separate legislative review project that focuses on removing barriers to cultural fire practices.