Black Saturday - more to be done

Mon, 06/02/2012 - 07:41

It has now been three years since the horrific fires of 7 February in Victoria and still they are very much a part of our industry conversation. There have been large fires before and after Black Saturday but these fires have reshaped the way we all go about our daily business of seeking and applying new knowledge on managing the bushfire threat.

Australian Government funding for the current Bushfire CRC research program was shaped exclusively around issues related to the Black Saturday fires. At the time it made perfect sense to target short term funding directly at the issues most pertinent to those fires.

But now, three years on, we realise that far more knowledge is needed for us to deal with bushfires across the country, amid fast moving changes in community values, demographics, climate and technology. We now also can see the connections between emergency management of bushfires, cyclones, floods and other natural hazards.

We must not forget that both the subsequent Royal Commission and the Senate recommended the establishment of an ongoing national centre for bushfire research. While many of the other recommendations have been publically discussed and acted upon, this recommendation is still outstanding.

Much of my efforts in 2012 will be directed to ensuring this aim is not forgotten by working towards obtaining ongoing funds for an Institute to expand into the areas not currently being covered by the national research program, in addition to exploring links with other natural hazards.

This is being done in conjunction with partners who are already doing research into these broader fields including the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and many universities.

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