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Engagement with councils on emergency management is vital

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The public release of the second phase report from the Inspector-General for Emergency Management’s (IGEM) independent inquiry into the 2019-20 Victorian fire season has been acknowledged by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).

The fires tragically took the lives of five Victorians and destroyed more than 300 homes while burning 1.5 million hectares in a matter of weeks.

The IGEM report focused on the progress and effectiveness of Victoria’s immediate relief and recovery arrangements, in which councils play a critical role.

MAV President, Cr David Clark, said communities are being heavily impacted by fires, floods and storms. Councils want to do everything they can to help.

Cr Clark said the MAV broadly supports all 15 recommendations including those referencing the MAV and councils. The recommendations provide a significant opportunity to dramatically enhance arrangements for communities impacted by emergencies.

“The frequency and intensity of the fires, floods and other emergencies impacting our regions is increasing,” Cr Clark said.

“We need to ensure that councils are properly supported to provide quick relief in emergencies, and can help their communities to recover and build back better.

“Leveraging the strong connections councils have with their communities to deliver improved outcomes and focusing on actions to better enable local knowledge and capabilities are key hallmarks of many of the recommendations.”

However, Cr Clark added that the MAV holds some concerns about the recommendation to establish a new recovery entity.

“Councils already have a legislated responsibility to coordinate relief and recovery locally,” Cr Clark explained.

“They do this by leveraging their close relationships with communities. Further discussion is required to ensure community needs are at the forefront of any proposed models.”

The MAV also expects further detail on how the Victorian Government intends to acquit all other recommendations.

“This initial response is welcomed but should be further enhanced through detailed planning to deliver the reforms,” Cr Clark added.

“Effective engagement with councils as the voice of local communities is vital.

“The IGEM report helps us to understand the challenges and opportunities, and we look forward to working with the Victorian Government to improve the existing arrangements.”

For further information, contact the MAV Strategic Communications team on (03) 9667 5590.