July 2009

Created date

Monday, June 1, 2009 - 9:00pm
  • New CRC puts bids to Canberra
  • Research Adoption
  • Black Saturday Taskforce Interim Report
  • Royal Commission hearings
  • Presenting the research
  • Canberra – Science Innovation
  • RMIT workshop
  • Gold Coast conference


New CRC puts bids to Canberra

In Canberra this week all 14 final round applicants for CRC funding were given the opportunity to present their case to a selection panel for the Cooperative Research Centres Program.

The CRC for Fire – Environment and Society had its two hour presentation and interview on Tuesday. Bushfire CRC chair Len Foster lead the presentation with a substantial input from Euan Ferguson, President of AFAC.  Both stressed the need for an ongoing national research capacity, the success of the current CRC model, the innovative proposed research program, and the support from a broad industry.

Others on our panel were  AFAC CEO Naomi Brown; Bushfire CRC Deputy CEO and Research Director, Dr Richard Thornton; Research Manager Lyndsey Wright;  Bushfire CRC Board member John Gledhill; and researchers Professor Drew Dawson from the University of South Australia, and Professor Rod Keenan, from the University of Melbourne; and myself.

After 18 months of planning, preparing and harnessing support, I can safely say that, for the moment, the task of establishing a new CRC is out of our hands.  I believe that our bid is a strong one and am hopeful that ongoing funding is forthcoming.

The Australian Government expects to announce the outcomes of this CRC selection round this month.


Research Adoption

The Bushfire CRC research adoption and education program has been actively progressing in recent months including the following:

  • Workshops:  Aerial Suppression, Safer Decision Making, and Volunteerism.
  • Seminars:  Effective Management of IMTs,  Grassland Curing Pilot (Northern Australia) briefing, and with Forestry Industry Brigades.

Upcoming events

  • Training workshop - Evaluating Community Education Programs – at New South Wales RFS next week.
  • Seminar and field trip - Risk management in plantations– Northern NSW in August.

More details and registration instructions here.

Research products are available here

The two field guides that were launched at the April Stakeholder meeting - ‘Burning under young eucalypts’ and ‘Smoke exposure management field guide’ – are now available. The first 25 copies of each Field Guide are free of charge for Bushfire CRC members; contact Vaia Smirneos (Vaia.Smirneos@bushfirecrc.com)


Black Saturday Taskforce Interim Report delivered


The interim report of the Bushfire CRC Research Taskforce into the Black Saturday fires was delivered to our Victorian agencies partners before being tabled at the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission last week.

Every day over a period of nearly two and half months, the Bushfire CRC placed teams of up to 50 researchers from across Australia, NZ and the US in the field.

This amounted to more than 2000 staff days of extensive data collection and analysis.

This interim report sets out the preliminary establishment of the data set, and partial findings from the extensive study undertaken that included an examination of more than 1300 properties and interviews with 600 residents.

The introduction and overview of the interim report is online.


Royal Commission hearings

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission is concluding its first block of public hearings and has heard evidence from several Bushfire CRC researchers. The hearings have also regularly referred to the research findings in the Program C book Community Bushfire Safety. Researchers to appear so far are Dr Kevin Tolhurst from the University of Melbourne; Professor Doug Paton, University of Tasmania; and Dr Kat Haynes and Professor John Handmer, both of RMIT University.


Presenting the research

The Bushfire CRC has been invited to present its research at several important events recently, both in Australia and elsewhere. These include:

  • The International Association of Wildland Fire held a Webinar on “Prepare, Stay and Defend, or Go Early: International Perspectives”.  I presented on aspects of the Australian position while others presented on the issues as they were being debated in the US, Canada and Europe. As a follow up, I expect that the US will have interaction with AFAC as the position is further analysed in the light of recent Victorian experiences.
  • The Northern Fire Managers meeting in Cairns was an opportunity Research Director Dr Richard Thornton and me to provide an update on the directions of the research program and get valuable input and support
  • The northern Australian 2009/2010 bushfire seasonal outlook workshop also occurred in Cairns – a Fire Note on its outcomes will be released soon.
  • The NSW RFS hosted the International Wildfire Management Conference in Sydney where I spoke about Bushfire CRC research outputs and the Victorian Bushfire CRC Research Taskforce.
  • Bushfire CRC Research Adoption Manager Dr Noreen Krusel was a guest speaker at the Central Oregon, US, Interagency Preseason Fire Conference.
  • Program D researcher Dr Mary Omodei from Latrobe University presented at the International Association of Wildland Fire Wildland Fire Safety Summit 2009 in Phoenix,  Arizona on “Perspectives on Black Saturday Bushfires in Australia,  Part 1:  An Agency Perspective & Part 2:  A Research Perspective.” She was supported in her talk from representatives from partner fires agencies from Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.


Canberra – Science Innovation

The Bushfire CRC participated in the Australian Science Festival alongside the annual CRC Innovations Conference at the National Convention Centre in Canberra in late May. These two events under the one roof were an excellent opportunity to showcase Bushfire CRC research to a wide scientific, political and general audience. We used this to promote bushfire science to schools (more than 12,000 children arrived by bus over the week), the general public, and to invited parliamentarians, and department and embassy staff. Encouragingly, our booth at the festival saw a constant stream of school children through it, all eager to hear about the science of bushfires. It was ranked eighth best out of the 37 exhibitors by the school children – an excellent outcome considering many of the big names in public science communication were present.

Australian Science Festival   Australian Science Festival

Bushfire CRC post graduate student Matthew Phillips (project D2.1) from Deakin University was shortlisted out of 35 applicants (in the top 4) for the Co-operative Research Centre Association Early Career Scientist Award at the CRC Association Conference. Matt gave a 10 min presentation on his research into the fitness of tanker based fire fighting crews. While his presentation was clear, robust and well received the winner was a PhD scholar from the Oral Health CRC. Matt was also one of two students invited to present to a CRC Chairman’s breakfast at Parliament House.

This was a high profile opportunity to expose Matt and the Bushfire CRC to a broad national scientific and political audience of more than 500 people. Matt’s work has been made possible by the significant contribution of Bushfire CRC member agencies who have supported his work.


RMIT workshop

RMIT University is hosting a one-day workshop next week on bushfire research that has followed the 7 February 2009 fires in Victoria. The workshop is for researchers, fire and emergency service organisations and other organisations involved in fire risk management and recovery.  Presentations will be by researchers within and outside of the Bushfire CRC.

The workshop is on 8 July at RMIT University City Campus, 9am to 5pm. More information here.


Gold Coast conference

The annual Bushfire CRC/AFAC conference 22-24 September 2009 is now hopefully firmly in everyone’s diaries. Registrations are building and it looks like this year’s event will be as big as ever with a strong and innovative program of speakers, pre-conference workshops and field trips.

The call for Posters has gone out to all Bushfire CRC researchers. As in past conferences, each research project and all students are required to submit a poster to ensure that the broader industry has the opportunity to see the breadth and depth of the current research and education programs.

More at www.afac2009.org.au

Gary Morgan

Bushfire CRC