We coordinated the local government response to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission on behalf of the 77 Victorian councils insured by MAV Insurance during 2009–2010.
Of the 77 councils represented, 27 were impacted by the Black Saturday bushfires.
The Cities of Greater Dandenong and Stonnington were not represented. Neither were affected by the bushfires.
Neil Young QC, Dr Greg Lyon SC and Jonathon Redwood represented us and 77 Victorian councils at the commission. They were supported by Mallesons Stephen Jacques.
During the proceedings, our evidence demonstrated the complexity of the legislative regime councils work within and highlighted the limited resources available to local government to fulfill its many fire management obligations.
A number of the recommendations in the commission’s final report [PDF] were directed at councils or have implications for local government.
Working with councils, we developed a submission to the Victorian Government in response to the commission’s final report recommendations.
We continue to actively represent Victorian councils at state level in the implementation of the Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations, including:
- integrated fire management planning
- township protection planning
- shelter options, including neighbourhood safer places
- native vegetation removal along roadsides
- land use planning
- local government resourcing and support
- identification of vulnerable people
- evacuation planning
- hazard trees identification and notification procedures
- animal welfare during emergencies
- community alert sirens
- Fire Ready campaign
Councils covered by the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 are currently responding to many of these recommendations.