October 2009

Created date

Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 9:00pm
  • Future of the Bushfire CRC
  • Stakeholders AGM
  • Gold Coast conference
  • Excellence Awards
  • International connections


Future of the Bushfire CRC

Work is now underway to determine the research program to 2013. As part of this process interviews have recently been conducted with stakeholders to better understand and prioritise the research issues arising from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and to place these in the context of the broader research needs of the industry.  The outcomes of these interviews were presented to the first meeting of the Bushfire CRC’s Research Advisory Forum held this week at the CRC offices in Melbourne. Around 50 representatives from fire and land management agencies and research organisations across Australia heard series of project proposals from research team leaders on topics grouped around the themes of Understanding Risk, Communicating Risk and Managing Risk. The next step is to develop these issues into the research project plans and to fill any gaps in the preliminary research agenda.  The full details of where we are at with the research program planning will be discussed at next month’s Stakeholder Council meeting.


Stakeholders meeting – change of date to 19th November 2009.

Stakeholders would now be aware that due to a clash in meetings, the Annual General Meeting of the Bushfire CRC Stakeholder Council will now be held on 19 November 2009 in Melbourne. This meeting will discuss the issue of ongoing research and, accordingly, the new partners who signed up for the CRC for Fire – Environment and Society have also been invited to participate.

This will be an important meeting to gain agreement on the ongoing nature of bushfire research for our industry. I urge all senior decision making Stakeholder’s to attend.


Gold Coast Conference and Bushfire CRC workshops for industry


Thanks to our Queensland hosts, our annual conference, in conjunction with AFAC, at the Gold Coast Convention Centre last month again exceeded expectations with more than 1100 delegates attending over the three days. The week began with 150 delegates participating in the two Bushfire CRC pre-conference workshops and a full-day seminar. These sessions allowed many of our researchers to present their research to the broader industry and open up for discussion ways in which it can be better utilised. This was followed by two days of conference presentations (including nine by Bushfire CRC researchers), a research poster display and a spectacular conference dinner.  

Conference presentations, posters, videos and photographs are being progressively uploaded onto the Bushfire CRC website here and the Knowledge Web. This is another important part of Research Adoption so please be sure to promote this content within your organisations.


Excellence Awards

A highlight of the conference was announcing the recipients of the inaugural Bushfire CRC Awards for Excellence.

It is important that our finest students and researchers are recognised and celebrated and these awards are a new initiative to achieve those aims. Works conducted over the life of the Bushfire CRC by a student and by a researcher were considered. The awards included $10,000 to the honoured researcher and $5000 to the honoured student for research into their field of expertise.

The awards recognised individual excellence in meeting the Bushfire CRC objectives of enhancing:     

  • the contribution of long-term scientific and technological research and innovation to Australia's sustainable economic and social development;
  • the transfer of research outputs into commercial or other outcomes of economic, environmental or social benefit to Australia;
  • the value to Australia of graduate researchers; and
  • collaboration among researchers, between researchers and industry or other users,  to improve efficiency in the use of intellectual and other research resources.

Following a call for nominations from all Stakeholders the Bushfire CRC Governing Board decided that the most worthy recepients were: Joshua Whittaker (pictured left, below), for the Student Award and Dr (Lachie) Lachlan McCaw, for the Researcher Award. (Pictured right, receiving his award from Bushfire CRC Chairman Len Foster.)


  • As a Bushfire CRC PhD student at RMIT University Josh has not only successfully completed his studies but also contributed to the Program C Bushfire Community Safety book, provided material for input into the Garnaut Report on Climate Change, and played a lead role in the Bushfire CRC research response taskforce following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires.   It is recognised across the Bushfire CRC and the industry that Josh has contributed well above the normal expectations of a student. More on Josh.
  • Dr Lachie McCaw has been a project leader in the Bushfire CRC research team since its inception and during this time has delivered high quality research outcomes in understanding the ecological impact of fire on the landscape.  Whilst Dr McCaw’s work has been principally focussed in south west Western Australia, working with the Department of Environment and Conservation, he has taken on a national role in the broader evidence based decision making in the land management area playing an important role in the completion and evaluation of the work on Project Vesta and is a mentor to emerging researchers in this field.  He was the leader of the fire behaviour component of the Bushfire CRC Research Response Taskforce following the 2009 Victorian bushfires and is a role model for researchers in this industry for now and into the future. More on Lachie's research.


International connections

The Australian Government has made it clear that it desires to see its investments in research benefiting from international networks and for Australia to be seen as a leader, influencing the global outcomes. Through the strong international links of its Stakeholders, the Bushfire CRC has formed good international networks.  To build on these relationships, the Bushfire CRC has proceeded to formalise opportunities for strengthening joint international research. Apart from the financial benefit of having additional funding from overseas, being used on Bushfire CRC research projects in Australia and New Zealand, these connections also provide the Bushfire CRC researchers with extended opportunities for collaboration and building of wider scientific networks.

On rural and land management research, the University of California, the US Forests Service, the US Joint Fire Science Program (which includes all National US Agencies and the States) and Canada have expressed strong desires for joint research with the Bushfire CRC.  On structural and emergency management research, we will seek through the AFAC connections, similar interest from the UK and Europe research agencies.

Once the final research program for the period 2010 – 2013 is agreed to by Stakeholders, we will select projects that will increase the return on investment to Bushfire CRC Stakeholders as a result of international collaboration.