We are working towards a consistent and integrated approach to fire management planning with Victorian agencies, and state and local government.
This includes representing councils on a number of state-level fire-related committees, such as the State Fire Management Planning Committee.
We coordinated the local government response to the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission: Final report recommendations and the Victorian Government’s implementation strategy.
As a result of the Royal Commission process, councils are implementing a number of new fire-related policy and programs. To support councils with the increased workload, we lobbied for state-funded resources for councils and ran a recruitment process to engage fire and emergency management coordinators.
We also wrote a submission in response to the Victorian Fire services property levy options paper.
Community Fire Refuges Pilot
Community Fire Refuges (refuges) were piloted at two school sites in the Yarra Ranges Shire and a co-located CFA fire station at Blackwood in Moorabool Shire. The pilot was initiated in response to recommendations from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
The Emergency Management Commissioner has publicly released its Community Fire Refuges Pilot Program Evaluation Report (PDF - 179.2KB). The MAV supported Yarra Ranges and Moorabool Shires throughout the pilot and advocated on behalf of the sector for councils to be relieved of their legislative responsibility to designate and therefore be liable for refuges in their municipality. We also stressed that councils should not be required to fund the building and on-going maintenance of refuges.
Additionally the MAV asserted that the scope of the pilot did not allow for a review of the suitability of refuges within broader bushfire safety policy which includes evacuation, warnings, community education and resilience. This position is further outlined in MAV’s submission to the Fire Services Commissioner Bushfire Shelter Options Discussion Paper.
The Pilot Program Evaluation Report supports these positions outlining that:
A detailed review of the Policy should be undertaken before the next fire season, before further refuges are established
Refuges must only be considered where no other shelter options are viable
The State Government should accept legal liability
Designation should be by the State Government, not the council. (legislation has been amended already to reflect this recommendation)
Funding and overall governance should be State-managed by a State department or agency, and
‘Ownership’ of the Policy must be clearly identified.