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

About the fire season

During the 2019–20 fire season Victoria faced its most challenging bushfire emergency since the devastating 2009 bushfires, with a geographic scale not seen since 1939. The significant human and property losses, and a range of consequential impacts, are still being experienced.

Between November 2019 and February 2020, more than 1.5 million hectares of Victoria was seared by fire.

Five people died, some 313 primary residences and 145 non-primary residences were destroyed or damaged, commercial properties and other buildings were also destroyed along with community infrastructure, cultural heritage sites and environmental assets.

Many regional small businesses, including hundreds not directly affected by the fires themselves, were – and continue to be – impacted by the events of the season.

Tourism was among the most affected industries at the height of the holiday peak and in the long period afterwards. Agriculture, logistics and small businesses were also affected.

The huge environmental impact in terms of flora, fauna and waterways is still being assessed, interpreted and experienced.

About the Inquiry

The Inquiry is being conducted in two phases.

Phase 1 considers preparedness for and response to fires in large parts of Victoria's North East, Gippsland, and Alpine regions. The Phase 1 report was provided to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services on 31 July 2020.

IGEM’s Inquiry Phase 1 report includes 66 observations, 36 findings and 17 recommendations in identifying good practice and opportunities for continuous improvement.

The Phase 1 report should be read in conjunction with the Review of 10 years of reform in Victoria’s emergency management sector as its recommendations are relevant to the findings of the Inquiry and are referenced throughout the Phase 1 report.

Many community members shared their views and experiences with the Inquiry by making a submission.

Phase 1 Report

The Fire Season Inquiry - Phase 1 Report (380 pages) is available from the link at the bottom of this page, or you can view as a flipbook by clicking on the cover graphic below. Alternatively, you can read the Fire Season Inquiry - Phase 1 Summary Report comprising the Inspector-General’s message, executive summary; and includes the observations, findings and recommendations in identifying good practice and opportunities for continuous improvement.

(External link)

Inquiry Phase 2

The Inquiry's Phase 2 is in progress and is considering the progress and effectiveness of Victoria’s immediate relief and recovery arrangements with the final report to be delivered by 30 June 2021.

Government response

On 14 October 2020, the Victorian government responded to IGEM’s Fire Season Inquiry - Phase 1 Report, accepting all 17 recommendations.

Read the government response from emv.vic.gov.au (External link)  

Author
Inspector-General for Emergency Management
Publisher
Inspector-General for Emergency Management, Victorian Government
Date of Publication