Mainstreaming fire and emergency management across legal and policy sectors: joint research and policy learning

Vulnerability to fires, and the ability to protect life, property and other assets, is largely defined by activities and policy settings in other policy sectors, defining fire and emergency management as a whole of government and cross-sectoral challenge. The community expects that different parts of government, with non-government players, will operate in a coordinated manner. Recent experience in Australia and elsewhere confirms that such coordination is often lacking.

Primary hypothesis is that improved community outcomes through better policy responses before, during and after major fire events can be achieved through 'mainstreaming', or the incorporation of fire and emergency management considerations in other policy sectors. Fire and emergency management will conversely be strengthened by enhancing its understanding of the implications of policy processes and decisions in other sectors.

Primary research question:  What are the institutional arrangements, policy processes, legal measures and urban and regional planning regimes - past, present or proposed, that are available, amenable to rigorous investigation, likely to be feasible in the Australian context, and most likely to support mainstreaming?

The project will specifically focus on the following three areas:

1.    The litigation experience

2.    Perceived inconsistencies

3.    The role of government in fire management

Related news

Disaster Handbook Review
Handbook of disaster policies and institutions—improving emergency management and climate change adaptation Professor John Handmer and Professor Stephen Dovers
Ebook author Dr Briony Towers at the launch
Highlighting the breadth and depth of Australia’s national bushfire research program, two books were launched by the Bushfire CRC on 23 October in Melbourne.
Watch an insightful interview on emergency law with Bushfire CRC researcher Michael Eburn.
Two books have been launched by the Bushfire CRC
Highlighting the breadth and depth of Australia’s national bushfire research program, two books have today been launched by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).
Fears and myths in fire law
Since the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, litigation due to damage caused by bushfires has come into the spotlight. But just how common is bushfire litigation? A Bushfire CRC researcher has delved into the legal archives and produced a valuable resource.
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Fire Note 97 reports on research that shows that Australian emergency management policy suffers from a lack of clear objectives or measures of success.
Fire agencies and the community need to understand the limit of the law as it applies to fire planning and emergencies and to advocate for reforms to ensure that the legal system does not impose undue burdens on communities that must live with the risk of fire.

External References

A table of reported and unreported cases dealing with issues of liability for causing, or failing to control, bushfires.

With the support of the Bushfire CRC, Dr Michael Eburn reviewed the history of litigation seeking compensation for causing, or failing to extinguish a bushfire.  The results of the study can be found in the paper:

Eburn M and Dovers S, Australian wildfire litigation, International Journal of Wildland Fire 
Submitted: 7 July 2011.  Accepted: 15 December 2011. Published online: 30 April 2012.

[Browse online version]

Rachel is undertaking an analysis of Australian insurance law and the regulatory system covering property damage caused by fire. Rachel was interviewed at the 2010 Annual Conference in Darwin.

See video

Resources linked to this Project



Workshop material

Research Report