The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommends that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (or the single entity referenced in Recommendation 4) – with support from all legislated fuel management organisations for public and private land – lead a community engagement process to improve the Victorian community's understanding of:
a) the purpose of Victoria's fuel management program and the concept of residual risk
b) the conditions under which fuel management effectiveness is limited
c) how fuel management is planned, conducted, evaluated and reported.
As part of the review of the risk target committed at Recommendation 9, DELWP, in collaboration with EMV and land and fire agencies, will develop a community engagement process that:
- builds understanding of the fuel management program and its limitations,
- makes targets more meaningful and understandable to the community, and
- supports transparency and shared responsibility.
DELWP’s approach to FSIP1 Actions 5.3 and 5.4 was guided by the findings from FSIP1 Action 5.2 which provided a baseline of the community’s level of understanding and expectations around fuel management programs and attitudes and perceptions towards bushfire risk.
In the second half of 2021 DELWP engaged with agencies to seek their input and feedback on the development of a sector engagement process, and shared guidance and principles. Over the course of three workshops, approximately 40 sector participants considered their existing engagement guidance and frameworks to identify commonalities and leverage good practice towards development of a sector process.
The resultant draft sector engagement process and the shared guidance and principles were endorsed by the Bushfire Risk Mitigation Committee in November 2021.
In May 2022 DELWP held a further think tank session to help identify the opportunities and challenges to rolling out the sector engagement process with agency partners. DELWP plans to trial the products in the second half of 2022 and refine them using feedback from sector partners.
DELWP intends the community engagement process and shared guidance and principles to be flexible tools that can be applied to support engagement about bushfire risk understanding. This includes information about the fuel management program and its limitations, and to make targets more meaningful and understandable to the community (refer to FSIP1 Action 5.2).