One of our legislative functions is undertaking objective and system-wide reviews, evaluations and assessments of Victoria’s emergency management arrangements. This includes reviews of the emergency management functions of responder agencies and government departments.
These reviews are based on our Annual Forward Plan of Reviews developed in consultation with the emergency management sector and shared with the minister.
These activities allow us to:
- identify emerging issues for the emergency management sector
- provide reliable, evidence-based information on what is working well and where improvements can be made
- identify ways for Victoria’s emergency management sector to continue to learn and improve
- provide the government and the community with confidence that the emergency management arrangements are fit for purpose.
In addition, we conduct reviews at the request of the minister under the provisions of section 64(1)(c) of the Emergency Management Act.
All IGEM’s assurance activities are guided by the Assurance Framework for Emergency Management which provides the foundation for a coordinated and collaborative approach to sector-wide assurance
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews
The Emergency Management Act 2013 requires IGEM to conduct system-wide reviews of emergency management arrangements in Victoria, based on an annual forward plan of reviews.
Our Annual Forward Plan of Reviews is developed in consultation with the emergency management sector and focuses on strategic, emergency management-related systemic issues of significance to all Victorians.
This review program supports the achievement of IGEM's legislated objectives in providing assurance and fostering continuous improvement of Victoria’s emergency management arrangements.
Our reports are published on this website subject to the minister's discretion.
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2023-24
We're conducting one planned review under our Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2023-24:
- Review of Victoria’s preparedness for major chemical, biological and radiological incidents
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2022-23
We conducted two planned reviews under our Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2022-23:
- Review of Victoria’s emergency call answer performance (published 3 September 2022)
- Review of Victoria’s water safety arrangements (completed 29 August 2023)
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2021
We conducted one planned review under the Annual Forward Plan of Reviews for 2021:
- Victoria’s preparedness for major public health emergencies, including pandemics (published 3 September 2022)
This review was IGEM's sole, planned review in addition to completing Phase 2 of the independent Inquiry into the 2019–20 Victorian Fire Season.
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2020
In January 2020, IGEM received a request from the minister to conduct an independent Inquiry into the 2019–20 Victorian Fire Season. Due to the significant scope, timeframes and resource commitments associated with Inquiry, IGEM did not publish a forward plan, or conduct any additional planned reviews in 2020.
However the potential list of review topics previously identified are retained and described in the Forward Projection of Reviews - 2020. These topics will be further considered for review from 2021.
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2019
IGEM conducted one planned review under the Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2019 & Forward Projection of Reviews:
- Ten years of reform in Victoria’s emergency management sector (published 14 October 2020)
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2018 & Forward Projection of Reviews
We conducted one planned review under the Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2018 & Forward Projection of Reviews:
- Impact assessment and consequence management (published 26 August 2019)
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2017
IGEM conducted two planned reviews under the Annual Forward Plan of Reviews for 2017:
- Governance (completed 28 March 2018)
- Emergency management for high-risk Victorian communities (published 14 October 2019)
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2016
We conducted three reviews in accordance with the Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2016:
- Connecting and collaborating with the private sector and community organisations (published 25 June 2019)
- Fitness for duty (completed 26 May 2017)
- Incident management teams - accreditation and rostering (published 7 July 2017)
Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2015
IGEM conducted three reviews in accordance with the Annual Forward Plan of Reviews - 2015:
- Connecting with and preparing communities for major emergencies in Victoria (published 5 May 2017)
- Victoria’s emergency management sector preparedness for major emergencies (published 5 May 2017)
- Community recovery following the 2013–14 Victorian bushfires (published 26 February 2016)
Forward Projection of Reviews
The Forward Projection of Reviews provides the emergency management sector with a high-level, thematic overview of the potential areas IGEM may review and includes broad information on subject matter.
We consult with the emergency management sector in determining, planning and conducting its review program. This includes a consideration of potential changes to priorities due to the maturity of existing programs or activities, emerging risks and the review programs conducted by other entities.
Preparing this Forward Projection of Reviews ensures a progressive and system-wide approach to our annual review program.
The projection is based on:
- information sourced from government, community and the emergency management sector
- system-wide risk and performance monitoring activities
- environmental scanning
- criteria established in developing the Annual Forward Plan of Reviews.
The proposed areas for review are not listed in priority or schedule for completion as priorities may change each year. The number of reviews conducted each year may also fluctuate.
Read the Forward Projection of Reviews
Inquiry into the 2019-20 Victorian fire season (2020-21)
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.
On 14 January 2020 the government announced the Inspector-General for Emergency Management would conduct an independent inquiry into the 2019-2020 Victorian fire season.
The Inquiry was conducted over 18 months and concluded on 30 July 2021.
It was conducted in two phases.
- Phase 1 considered preparedness for and response to fires in large parts of Victoria's North East, Gippsland, and Alpine regions. The report includes observations, findings and 17 recommendations in identifying good practice and opportunities for continuous improvement.
- Phase 2 considered the progress and effectiveness of Victoria’s immediate relief and recovery arrangements. The report makes 15 recommendations and includes observations, findings, and community reflections.
IGEM also invited submissions addressing the Inquiry's terms of reference.
Our inquiry updates provide snapshots of how IGEM undertook the Inquiry. They also provide information on our implementation monitoring.
West Footscray Industrial Fire (2018)
On 30 October 2018, the Victorian Government requested the Inspector-General for Emergency Management provide advice regarding the 30 August 2018 West Footscray industrial fire.
The specific objectives of this review included an evaluation of the effectiveness of:
- high-risk site identification, preparedness and planning
- response and support agency roles and responsibilities
- community information and warnings, including the use of Emergency Alert.
The review was conducted from 29 January to 1 May 2019. It made 7 observations, 9 findings, 4 recommendations towards improvement of the emergency management arrangements.
The passage of time since the occurrence of the West Footscray industrial fire and the delivery of this report saw a number of improvements to the way in which the sector responded to similar events. These are identified in this report.
On 14 August 2020, government released and responded to IGEM's report, supporting in-full the 4 recommendations.
Read the government response from emv.vic.gov.au
Review of the July 2017 SKM Recycling Plant Fire in Coolaroo (2017)
The Inspector-General for Emergency Management conducted a review of the July 2017 fire at the SKM Recycling Plant in Coolaroo.
The Coolaroo fire broke out on 13 July and burned for 11 days, sending clouds of smoke across Melbourne. At the height of the blaze, hundreds of nearby residents were urged to evacuate due to concerns about air quality.
Lessons learnt during the Hazelwood mine fire played a key role in handling the Coolaroo fire. Emergency workers used health monitoring data to make decisions about how harmful smoke and ash would be for locals, and people in the area had online access to air quality readings via the Environment Protection Authority website.
Working closely with emergency management agencies, IGEM examined how well the improvements introduced following the Hazelwood mine fire were applied in the Coolaroo fire response.
The review identified key improvements including:
- improved emergency management sector coordination and collaboration for planning and response to managing smoke hazards
- reduced community exposure to harmful smoke
- improved health, safety and wellbeing of emergency service personnel for smoke hazard incidents.
On 14 December 2017 government released IGEM’s Review of the SKM Coolaroo Recycling Plant Fire report.
Review of response into the thunderstorm asthma event of 21-22 November 2016 (2015-17)
The Victorian Government requested the Inspector-General for Emergency Management to review the emergency response to the Melbourne thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016.
The review's primary goal was to identify opportunities to learn from this event in order to improve future preparedness and response arrangements and performance.
IGEM provided government with two reports:
- Review of response to the thunderstorm asthma event of 21-22 November 2016 - Final Report (released 27 April 2017)
- Review of response to the thunderstorm asthma event of 21-22 November 2017 - Preliminary Report (released 1 February 2017)
IGEM’s Final Report documented what was known about thunderstorm asthma and analysis of the facts relating to the emergency response. It provides 25 findings and 16 recommendations to support improved preparedness and response to future health emergencies and other types of unexpected, rapid-onset emergencies.
Read more about the review and its terms of reference.
On 27 April 2017, government released and responded to the final report from IGEM's review into the thunderstorm asthma event of 21 and 22 November 2016, accepting in-principle all 16 recommendations in the report.
Find out about government's response to IGEM's recommendations.
Review of the initial response to the 2015 Wye River - Jamieson Track fire (2016)
In early 2016, government requested the Inspector-General for Emergency Management review aspects of planning for, and response to, the December 2015 Wye River – Jamieson Track fire.
The fire started by lightning strike on 19 December and was contained 34 days later.
About the review
The review was conducted within the normal scope of the Inspector-General’s responsibilities under s.64 of the Emergency Management Act 2013: to foster continuous improvement in Victoria's emergency management arrangements.
In undertaking this review, the Inspector-General considered the planning and implementation of strategies surrounding the response to the fire to identify potential learnings for the future as well as areas of good practice.
An interim update and draft report was provided to the minister on 21 January and the final report on 19 February 2016.
On 25 February 2016, government released IGEM's report. The review made 4 recommendations on areas for improvement, all relating to the operational management of bushfires.
The Victorian Government accepted all recommendations. The Emergency Management Commissioner developed a response in collaboration with the chief officers of the Country Fire Authority, (then) Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, and (then) Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board.
Find out about government's response to IGEM's recommendations
Review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land (2015)
On 17 February 2015, government asked the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) to conduct a review of performance targets for the future bushfire fuel management program on public land.
About the review
IGEM's review examined a risk-based approach to bushfire fuel management against the then existing hectare-based performance target program.
The review aimed to support the future delivery of the most appropriate bushfire fuel management program that would reduce the risk of bushfire to people, property and the environment, with the overarching priority being the protection of human life.
Read about the review and IGEM’s approach: Review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land (published 21 May 2015)
On 19 November 2015, government responded to IGEM's report accepting all recommendations including the adoption of a risk reduction fuel target.
In related activities, IGEM monitored and reported on government’s implementation of recommendations from the review of performance targets, in addition to managing the investigation and reporting of any breaches of control lines by a planned burn.
Find out about government's response to IGEM's recommendations