On 14 January 2020 the government announced an independent inquiry into the 2019-2020 Victorian fire season would be conducted by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM).

Through this Inquiry, IGEM will examine Victoria’s preparedness for the fire season, response to fires in large parts of Victoria's North East, Gippsland, and Alpine regions, and will review relief and recovery efforts.

Clicking on the sections below will show details on:

  • the Inquiry's two phases

  • Terms of Reference and 'matters for consideration'

  • timing

  • progress updates

  • community participation.

Terms of reference

 

Phase 1 - Community and sector preparedness for and response to the 2019-20 summer season

Matters for consideration:

  • Effectiveness of emergency management command and control and accountability arrangements in Victoria.
  • Effectiveness of Victoria’s operational response to the 2019-20 fire season.
  • Review of the effectiveness of the declaration of a state of disaster under the Emergency Management Act 1986 – including the appropriateness of supporting legislative and administrative processes, communication, and community compliance.
  • State evacuation planning and preparedness processes/practices and their effectiveness with an emphasis on remote/isolated communities and Victorian peak holiday season locations.
  • The timeliness and effectiveness of activation of Commonwealth assistance, and Commonwealth resource availability
  • Preparedness ahead of the 2019-20 fire season; including the effectiveness of regional emergency management work undertaken to inform and educate the community about the coming season, community engagement, impact of lengthening fire seasons, and any relevant legislation, policy and practice. 
  • Consider all challenges and implications for bushfire preparedness arising from increasingly longer and more severe bushfire seasons as a result of climate change. 
  • In the context of bushfire preparedness, assess the readiness and responsibilities of statutory agencies, Local Government and State Government bodies. 
  • Review of all opportunities and approaches to bushfire preparedness, including different methods of fuel and land management (for example ‘cool burning’, mechanical slashing, integrated forest management, traditional fire approaches) to protect life and property as well as ecological and cultural values.
  • Consideration of the effectiveness of Victoria’s Code Red day arrangements and their application in practice.
  • In considering effectiveness of Victoria’s operational response to the 2019-20 fire season, IGEM should particularly consider:
    • effectiveness of the State’s response priorities, including primacy of life
    • effectiveness of public information and warning systems, including cross-border coordination and communication
    • impact of increasingly longer fire seasons on the ability to prepare, deploy and sustain efforts directed towards emergency events in Victoria
    • impact of providing Victorian responder officers to other Australian jurisdictions to assist with emergency events (as early as September 2019 this summer season)
    • availability and utilisation of private assets and resources (including plant equipment) to support emergency preparedness and response
    • planning and response mechanisms to protect biodiversity threatened by bushfire
    • effectiveness of the existing workforce model to support response, relief and recovery.
  • Review support available to staff and volunteers in terms of mental health and wellbeing.
  • Consideration of the adequacy of existing administrative and funding mechanisms in place at a state level to support the operational response efforts.
  • In considering the timeliness and effectiveness of activation of Commonwealth assistance, and Commonwealth resource availability, IGEM should particularly consider:
    • effectiveness of current national resource sharing arrangements when multiple and simultaneous fire events are occurring
    • effectiveness of existing governance arrangements supporting access to Commonwealth and State air fleets
    • use and integration of Australian Defence Force assets into Victoria’s emergency response and relief operations.
 

Phase 2 – Progress and effectiveness of Victoria’s immediate relief, and recovery arrangements concerning the 2019-20 fire season

Matters for consideration:

 Timing of the Inquiry

 

Timing of Phase 1 and Phase 2

Phase 1 (report complete)

On 31 July 2020, Inspector-General Tony Pearce delivered government with his report on Phase 1 of the independent Inquiry. This will allow appropriate time for government consideration of the report before the next fire season.

Arrangements for tabling of the report in Parliament are at the discretion of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

Once tabled, the report will be publicly available from this website.

Phase 2

The Inquiry is now in Phase 2, focusing on relief and recovery, Submissions are open and can continue to be provided by email, online, and mail through to April 2021.

IGEM acknowledges that for many people recovery can be a long-term process, and is undertaking its community engagement in two stages:

  • During the first stage IGEM will gather feedback about the effectiveness of the emergency relief and initial recovery activities (first six months after the fires).
  • During the second stage, IGEM gather feedback on the progress and effectiveness of recovery activities in the medium term (12+ months after the fires).

The Inspector-General will provide their second Inquiry Report into the effectiveness of progress with relief and recovery arrangements to government by 30 June 2021.

The government will work with IGEM to allow timings of the inquiry to be adjusted to ensure its engagement with emergency management agencies will not impact current response efforts.

Inquiry updates 

 

Community updates on the Inquiry's progress

Community update - 3 (10 August 2020)

Community update - 2 (9 July 2020)

Community update - 1 (27 May 2020)

Community participation - sharing your views

To ensure the Inquiry considers the views and experiences of the Victorian community before, during and after the fires, the Inspector-General will offer communities opportunities contribute.

Currently views and experiences can be provided through submissions under Phase 2 of the Inquiry, through to April 2021. Submissions relating to phase 1 of the Inquiry can continue to be provided, however these will inform an addendum to the Phase 2 report.

As further opportunities for community participation under Phase 2 are confirmed, we will publish details on this website, and promote through our Twitter (External link) our Facebook (External link) accounts, and local media outlets.

 

Submissions

To make sure the Inquiry considers the views and experiences of the community before, during and after the fires, the Inspector-General invites individuals and organisations to make submissions addressing the Terms of Reference / 'matters for consideration'.

The Inquiry is being conducted over two phases:

  • The Inquiry's Phase 1 report focusing on preparedness and response was provided to government on 31 July 2020.
  • The Inquiry's Phase 2 will focus on relief and recovery, and submissions on these topics will be considered until April 2021.
    • To help inform this second report, IGEM will gather feedback about:
      • the effectiveness of the emergency relief and initial recovery activities (first six months after the fires)
      • the progress and effectiveness of recovery activities in the medium term (12+ months after the fires)
  • Submissions relating to Phase 1 of the Inquiry can continue to be provided, however these will inform an addendum to the Phase 2 report.

In addition to the Inquiry’s ‘matters for consideration’, IGEM would like to hear from individuals and organisations about: 

  • how the 2019-20 Victorian fires affected you 
  • what worked well in the delivery of emergency relief and recovery activities during the first 6 months
  • what did not work as well as you would have expected or preferred
  • your suggestions for improvement. 

We understand that views and experiences may change over time, and that communities now have the added challenge of the coronavirus emergency (External link) during their bushfire recovery. We encourage individuals and communities to share these impacts during the engagement process. 

The more views and experiences the Inspector-General hears, the more informed he will be to make recommendations that - if implemented - will bring better outcomes for Victorians. 

Read about IGEM's use of relief and recovery in this Inquiry.

Making a submission

Individuals and organisations are invited to provide submissions, addressing the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, through:

Online submissions (External link) can be provided in Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Filipino, Italian, Persian, and Vietnamese, in addition to English.

How we treat submissions

  • Your submission will become property of the Inspector-General for Emergency Management
  • The Inspector-General for Emergency Management may publish, quote or summarise information provided by you in the Inquiry reports
  • None of our reports include any identifying information
  • The Inquiry reports will be provided to the Victorian Government
  • With your permission, submissions may be published on the website igem.vic.gov.au
  • Your submission may be requested by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (External link)
  • Let us know if your submission is to remain anonymous and/or confidential
  • Personal details and sensitive information will be removed from published submissions unless you ask for your name to be published
  • You do not need to provide any identifying information unless you want to

 

 

Community meetings 

As opportunities for community participation under the Inquiry’s Phase 2 are confirmed, IGEM will publish details on this website, and promote through its Twitter (External link) and Facebook (External link) accounts, and local media outlets.

 

No events are currently scheduled.