What a difference a year makes

Created date

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 4:02am

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago I wrote that Australia and New Zealand’s national fire research funding was due to expire in mid 2013, with no new research funding guaranteed. But in early 2013 the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC was announced. On 10 December it was officially launched by the Federal Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, right in front of Parliament House in Canberra and flanked by a water bombing helicopter and fire and SES vehicles. It was fantastic to attend and represent the Bushfire CRC.

The AGM was held in late November, and arrangements are well underway to establish a Trust to ensure all Bushfire CRC members get the most out of their investment in a decade of fire science. Immediately after the AGM, we held a special event to emphasise to Bushfire CRC partners the advances in knowledge that Bushfire CRC research has achieved since Black Saturday across all scientific disciplines. The half day event also highlighted the achievements of the Bushfire CRC PhD student program to all partners.

Three students of the PhD program spoke about the progress of their studies and how it linked in with the ongoing work of fire and land management agencies. Dr Briony Towers, who has now completed her PhD and is involved with a Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC project through RMIT University, studied bushfire preparedness messages for children. Much of her work has been adopted by agencies for their community education programs for fire and other natural hazards. Grace Vincent, Deakin University, presented her research into firefighter fatigue. David Barton, RMIT, talked about the differences between resilience and recovery from his studies of the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Marysville.

Three more students were profiled in videos. See more about the current work of Brenda Mackie, and the completed work of Rowena Morris and Jaymie Norris, both of who are now employed by CRC partner agencies. Watch the videos on the Bushfire CRC here.

It has been a very successful year, no matter how you measure it. We held our biggest conference ever with AFAC in Melbourne in September; outputs from the three year research extension are coming in; successful and important community research task forces were undertaken after major fires in Tasmania and NSW – with more research underway in NSW following the October fires; our first ebook was launched to help parents talk about bushfire safety with their kids; and throughout we connected with Bushfire CRC people across Australia and New Zealand through meetings, phone calls and social media. All of this will continue through the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

On behalf of the Board and the staff at your Bushfire CRC, thank you to all of you in the wider Bushfire CRC community for your superb efforts over the past year. A special thank you must go to the researchers, lead end users and agency supporters for their strong collaboration. The Bushfire CRC is pleased to be part of such a progressive industry

My very best wishes to you and your family for a happy Christmas and a safe and successful New Year.