December 2009

Created date

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - 10:00pm

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year

Greetings to all Bushfire CRC partners,

This year was a challenging one for most Bushfire CRC member agencies. The year was barely underway when we faced extreme weather events that lead to floods in the north and tragic fires in Victoria.

But amidst the challenges the Bushfire CRC recorded some notable achievements in 2009:

·     Our research output continues to meet or exceed what is expected in our Commonwealth Agreement.

·     Our research output now totals well over 800 separate items – research reports, journal articles, conference presentations and posters, and books.

·     The annual conference on the Gold Coast attracted 1100 participants from our industry to hear more on the progress of our research and the workshops were again successful in assisting in the transfer of knowledge.

·     Our work with the Victorian agencies and the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission demonstrated the great importance of a bushfire research coordinating body that can quickly draw on expertise both in Australia and internationally.

·     The Australian Government extended the life of the Bushfire CRC through to 2013.

As 2009 draws to a close, and along with it our seven year research program, it is clear that the priorities for our industry have changed in ways unforseen by our industry at the start of this decade.

Much of our current research program was shaped by the priorities of the day and has served us well. Today our focus has evolved somewhat to change centred on climate and drought, demographic shifts, new demands with workplace health and safety, and emerging technology.

To this mix we can add a range of issues arising out of the tragic Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria during February. It is with these new priorities that we look ahead and plan a strategic research agenda to take us into 2010 and beyond.

As partners, we must continue to work closely together to better understand and prioritise the research issues arising from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires on the management of extreme bushfire risk and to place these in the context of the broader research needs of the industry. 

The Bushfire CRC received an additional three years funding from the Australian Government; $15 million for research in the period 2010-2013. We will use this to conduct research into national issues arising from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and to begin research that we have all identified as being required to meet the industry’s needs by 2020.

Further work has begun to identify an appropriate research vehicle and funding sources to secure the future of longer term fire-related research in Australia. This action follows the bid earlier this year, and subsequent feedback, to obtain CRC Program funds for an ongoing research program. It was during that bid process that the industry committed to ongoing funding for quality research to underpin its policies and procedures. The importance of a science-based approach has been highlighted by the increasing number of third party inquiries that industry is being subjected to.

Discussions between our industry and research partners will continue on how best to build on the success of the Bushfire CRC. Into the future, Australia needs to conduct research across a range of fields for the benefit of our broad industry and the communities they serve. As one of the most bushfire prone areas on earth, the nation needs an end-user lead institute that will work closely with similar bodies internationally and will collaborate with organisations with an association with fire in areas such as building, planning, local government, health, media, risk management, insurance, water and power, and telecommunications.

Our industry has come a long way over the past decade – and a long way over the past year. A broadly-based, nationally coordinated research program with international links is a worthwhile aim for our future. I welcome you to join us as we move 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.

Gary Morgan
Chief Executive Officer
Bushfire CRC