On 7 February 2009, Australia suffered its worst-ever loss of life and property in a series of bushfires driven by severe weather in Victoria. On this day, 173 people lost their lives, many more were injured and lost their homes and livelihood along with extensive community infrastructure.
This was a latest in a line of bushfire disasters stretching back to European settlement of Australia, including many iconic events in recent times such as Ash Wednesday (SA and Vic.) in 1983; Canberra (ACT) in 2003; Sydney (2001–2); Wangary (SA) in 2005; Boorabin, (WA) in 2008 and Toodyay (WA) in late 2009.
The scale and the consequence of the February 2009 fires in Victoria resulted in the establishment of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (VBRC).
Commentary in the media and the preliminary analysis of the Bushfire CRC research suggests that the community did not fully understand the risk that it faced, and this is probably the case for most natural disasters. This underlines the warnings made in 2008 by Australasia’s chiefs with fire and emergency responsibilities - that existing fire management practices, at all levels, are not sustainable in today’s changing world.
The Bushfire CRC’s mission is to build on the previous work, the understanding of these events to help the sector and the community address this broader challenge.
In responding to this challenge, the Bushfire CRC, in conjunction with its partners, has developed a comprehensive research plan for the next three years that will set the agenda for longer-term studies. This has drawn on an extensive data collection following the 2009 fires, discussions with leaders in the fire, land-management, local government, academic and policy arenas, and the Council Assisting the VBRC.
The critical areas of concern to the community and the broader sector fall within three main program areas, which have been aligned to the widely accepted risk-management paradigm.
Download here - a six-page overview of the research projects