Royal Commission and the Bushfire CRC
Created dateSunday, August 1, 2010 - 9:00pm
The final report of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission contains much discussion on the nature of bushfire research, past, present and future.
The Bushfire CRC Research Taskforce data and other Bushfire CRC research was heavily drawn upon for the Commissioners deliberations – based on a formal Memorandum of Understanding signed early on between the Royal Commission and the Bushfire CRC.
In my personal evidence before the Commission I stressed that Bushfire CRC does not do all the bushfire research required by agencies and the community.
I said that I encouraged more research to be conducted, and that we were not in competition with the universities or CSIRO. I encouraged more total funds to increase research. I was pleased that these themes were picked up in the final report.
In addition, the Commissioners requested the Bushfire CRC to make a formal submission on the question – “what are the existing gaps in fire knowledge?” The report quotes extensively from our submission (see the footnotes in the report at Volume II , Chapter 11) on the history of fragmented research in Australia, the need for more skilled fire managers, the funding constraints on national bushfire research, the limited breath of research, and the collaborative approach to research seen in recent years.
Clearly, without the Bushfire CRC, the Commission would not have had the number and quality of expert witnesses to help provide the background knowledge for the Commissioners to make their findings.
The Commission released a list of future research priorities. Much of the original Bushfire CRC research program provides a solid evidence base for this research. The Bushfire CRC Research Taskforce, in particular, provides a wealth of data on Black Saturday on fire behaviour, why some houses burnt and others did not, and on the actions and decisions taken by residents.
The Commissioners commended the Bushfire CRC saying they had: “...benefited from extensive research conducted by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority, and numerous other research bodies.”
The Royal Commission recommended a permanent national centre for bushfire research with reasonable surety of long-term funding. In response the Bushfire CRC released a public statement that it would transition to the Australian Fire Research Institute.
In other news
The three-year extension of the Bushfire CRC has been formalised with the signing of the Commonwealth Agreement between the CRC and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in July. This Agreement ensures funding for our new research program to get underway.
The Bushfire CRC and AFAC Annual Conference in Darwin is less than a month away – from 8 to 10 September. A day of pre-conference professional development sessions precedes a packed conference program with presentations on key issues for our sector and updates on ongoing research projects. Come and visit us at the joint Bushfire CRC and AFAC Expo stand and be sure to see our research poster display in the adjacent Drager Lounge. More at www.afac2010.org
The Southern Seasonal Bushfire Outlook workshop is on 23-24 August at the Bureau of Meteorology offices in Melbourne. This follows the July Northern workshop in Darwin, which will soon produce an outlook for wider circulation. These workshops are a tangible example of the transfer of Bushfire CRC research into a practical application for agency partners all around Australia. For information on how to get your organisation involved in the Southern Seasonal Bushfire Outlook workshop contact Vaia.Smirneos@bushfire.com
CEO, Bushfire CRC