The Andrews Labor Government today released and responded to the independent investigation of the Lancefield-Cobaw fire, which resulted from a planned burn that broke containment lines in early October, and the Inspector-General for Emergency Management’s report into Victoria’s fuel management targets.
The independent investigation carried out by Murray Carter into the Lancefield-Cobaw fire has recommended improvements to the systems and processes of the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning (DELWP) that are crucial to the delivery of planned burning throughout Victoria.
The investigation has made 22 recommendations and found:
- DELWP needs to do more to improve the way risk is assessed
- Clear accountability and governance structures
- Contingency planning is in place
- Engage the community more about the role of planned burning
DELWP has asked the Inspector General for Emergency Management (IGEM) to provide independent oversight to ensure all recommendations are implemented and progress is reported publically.
It is rare that planned burns break containment lines but DELWP has committed to ensuring it has the right systems in place to reduce bushfire risk and the community has confidence in the work carried out by the Department’s local forest firefighters across Victoria.
The Government also today released its response to the Inspector-General for Emergency Management’s report into Victoria’s fuel management targets, accepting all the report’s recommendations - including a new focus on the greatest areas of risk for fuel management on public land.
Previously, planned burns were driven by a hectare target. Going forward Victoria will become more sophisticated in the way we manage planned burning and put local communities first. This response addresses key recommendations in Murray Carter’s report.
The response builds on the Inspector-General’s recommendations by setting a new direction for integrated bushfire management across Victoria. Key changes include:
- introducing a risk reduction target to fuel management on public land from July 1 2016, to lower the impact of a major bushfire on lives and properties of Victorians by nearly a third
- fire and land management agencies partnering with locals to find the most effective mix of actions to reduce bushfire risks and impacts for communities
- greater partnerships between CFA experts and residents in planned burns across private land
- fire agencies partnering with other agencies and communities to manage bushfire risk across public and private land in the highest risk areas – where it makes sense
The new direction, to be implemented over the next five years, seeks to ensure that fire and land managers and community work as one to reduce bushfire risk. This will lead to safer communities, thriving rural economies and healthy environments for current and future generations.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville
“What occurred in Lancefield was unacceptable and the Department will now work hard to ensure it has better systems and processes in place to help rebuild community trust in planned burning.”
“The Inspector General for Emergency Management will oversee the Department’s progress on implementing the recommendations and will provide regular updates to Lancefield and other local areas.”
“Our forest firefighters are members of local communities right across Victoria who work hard to reduce bushfire risk. They are committed to working together to be smarter and more collaborative to help protect people, communities, and our local environments from fire.”
“In the past the approach to planned burning has been driven by a target, not by focussing on the areas of high risk. We will now work to reduce the risk of bushfire by focusing on high risk areas and listening to locals.”
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett
“Now is the time for new thinking when it comes to bushfire preparations and management as we do all we can to reduce the risks to ensure a safer state.”
“The CFA and EMV will work closely with forest firefighters and local communities to ensure locals are part of the decision making when it comes to planned burning.”
Reviewed 10 February 2021