Created dateMonday, December 1, 2008 - 10:00pm
Dear Bushfire CRC partner
As 2008 draws to a close and the Bushfire CRC enters its final phase with a strong challenge to secure a future role for a national fire research program, it is timely to acknowledge the solid achievements of recent times.
Over the past five and a half years, much of our collective research effort has focussed on finding improved ways of reducing the level of bushfire risk for our community. And now, we are well into the phase of having this research utilised by our members and the wider community.
With some confidence it can now be seen that the combined efforts of 19 fire, emergency and land management agency stakeholder organisations from across Australia and New Zealand, and the research capabilities of some 20 universities and related research providers, is resulting in clear community and industry benefits.
With the Christmas season now upon us, I would like to briefly reflect on a few highlights of the past 12 months where these benefits were most obvious.
- The year began with an Innovation Review out of the Federal Government coupled with a more specific CRC Program Review. After much uncertainty about their ambit and timeframes, the outcomes of these reviews subsequently changed the very nature of our chief source of funds - the CRC program - and the way the program was heading into the next decade. This had a huge impact on our planning for the CRC Fire – Environment and Society, overwhelmingly in a positive way.
- Our biggest event for the year, the International Bushfire Research Conference, incorporating the 15th Annual AFAC Conference attracted around 1100 delegates to Adelaide in September. I know of no other CRC that is so successfully partnered with its industry to be able to gather such a number of people to hear about research. And I know of no other conference that attracts as much on-site support from ABC Local and Online to communicate our research to local, national and international audiences.
- Our pre-conference workshop trialed a new format this year. It was an ambitious venture but I could not be more pleased that Bushfire Incident Response attracted 75 senior people with a working interest in managing all the complexities of a bushfire incident. This included five CEO/Chief Officer level participants. Next year at our Gold Coast conference, we will build upon what we learnt at Adelaide and have more pre-conference workshops covering targeted outputs for research adoption with end-users.
- Our Stakeholder Council meetings continue to meet the demands of our partners with a full day in April and October of presentations and discussion on our progress. Both days were most productive and successful with each attracting around 40 participants from all end-user organisations from around Australia and New Zealand.
- An occasion to celebrate achievement was the launch of the book Community Bushfire Safety; a collection of Bushfire CRC Program C research studies around community safety. The book is unique to the fire industry both in Australia and internationally with its focus on community safety as a key component of bushfire management. It explains how we need to alter community attitudes to accept responsibility for fire risk so we can better manage the safety of people and property for bushfire.
- In October a 5th Year Independent Panel Review established by the Bushfire CRC Board, concluded its work with a highly favourable assessment of our research quality, performance against agreed milestones and research adoption processes. The Panel was left with a very positive view of the Bushfire CRC, which is a tribute to the combined effort of all researchers, stakeholders, Board members and staff.
- The Bushfire Research Fund is now a reality and is welcoming donations from the broader community. The Fund is on the Register of Environmental Organisations with the Australian Government’s Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Donations to environmental bushfire research are tax deductible.
And finally, and importantly, in the last few weeks the Australian Government’s requirements for the next round of bidding for new CRCs have become clear. Building upon the success of the current Bushfire CRC, AFAC and its partners have, over the past year, been coordinating a bid for a new research centre under the Cooperative Research Centres program.
You will hear more about this bid in the New Year but, in brief, the research being proposed will address the broad areas of risk management, carbon, water, biodiversity, local government, community resilience, economic impact assessment, residential fires, incident management, and the use of technology.
The bid will be submitted to the Federal Government by 20 March 2009. Successful bids are expected to be announced in July 2009.
So, although we enter 2009 with some uncertainties, our successes and achievements to date are a wonderful basis for moving forward.
In concluding may I, on behalf of the Board and the staff at the Bushfire CRC office, take the opportunity to express my continuing thanks to all those in the wider Bushfire CRC ‘community’ for the efforts you have put in over the past year.
My very best wishes to you and your family for a Happy Christmas and a safe and successful New Year.
Chief Executive Officer