Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan today announced that $33 million would be allocated in the 2012-13 Victorian Budget to deliver more security for people living in bushfire-prone areas and boost the state's capacity to combat bushfires.
Mr Ryan said the Budget commitment built on the Victorian Coalition Government's promise to implement all 67 recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
"As part of the Budget, $20.6 million has been allocated to implement the second phase of the Coalition's Bushfire Buy-back Scheme," Mr Ryan said.
"The buy-back scheme is providing an alternative for eligible landowners impacted upon by the 2009 bushfires who wish to relocate from an area of unacceptably high bushfire risk.
"The funding will be used to acquire properties in these areas from landholders who have voluntarily decided to participate in the program.
"Landholders have until 31 May to submit applications and I continue to encourage interested landholders to apply."
Mr Ryan said the Budget also included $2 million for the development of Community Fire Refuges in areas where there was no suitable Neighborhood Safer Place location.
"In each of these locations, a Community Fire Refuge will be established. These will be places that offer short-term shelter from the immediate life-threatening effects of a bushfire," Mr Ryan said.
"The refuges will have a dual benefit as they are also likely to be used as an alternative community gathering point for purposes such as a sports or community hall."
Mr Ryan said in addition, the establishment of a vulnerable persons register would be a priority in this Budget, which would deliver on Recommendation 3 of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
"The 2012-13 Budget includes $10.4 million over four years to provide for the Vulnerable People in Emergencies Program," Mr Ryan said.
"This important initiative will equip local councils with the resources needed to identify vulnerable people in the community and establish a suitable mechanism to store, access and update the information.
"This Budget is about enhancing frontline services and taking new measures to protect the most vulnerable Victorians.
Victoria's economic challenges are real and they are serious, but the Coalition Government will not be defined by the challenges we face, but by the collective actions we take to address those challenges."
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government continued to make good progress on implementing the recommendations of the Bushfires Royal Commission.
"We live in one of the most bushfire-prone places on earth, and the Coalition Government is investing in a wide range of measures to better protect Victorians from bushfires," Mr Ryan said.
The Bushfires Royal Commission Implementation Monitor Neil Comrie will provide his final report to the Parliament on the implementation of the Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations by 31 July 2012.