Perth Hills report and community meeting

Created date

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 10:48pm

This week saw the release of the report outlining the work undertaken by the University of Western Australia team in the aftermath of the Perth Hills fires in February this year. The report was commissioned by FESA to get a better understanding of the community affected. This report is now on our website and provides a valuable addition to the similar work conducted following the Victorian bushfires in 2009.

The findings were startlingly similar in a number of ways to those in Victoria. Communities still see that there is a generic risk, but still do not believe it is a risk to them personally. This is an important finding as it underlines what has been suspected for some time, but does place a challenge on the agencies to start to address this issue, particularly  as the report also shows that acceptance of the threat is strongly correlated to preparedness.

The report has attracted substantial local media, with the communities showing a strong willingness to get further involved with ongoing research in these areas. One of the promises made to the local communities was to hold feedback sessions; and I had the pleasure of hosting the first community meeting in the suburb of Kelmscott in Perth last night. It provided a great opportunity to discuss with the residents what the findings meant for them, and what the various government agencies were doing with the findings.

The UWA team did a great job in presenting the results in an approachable way. The presentations were followed with an hour and a quarter open panel session with representatives of FESA, DEC and the Shire council as well as the researchers, and a wide range of questions were asked and answered. The meeting also gave the Bushfire CRC an opportunity to publicly thank the residents for their co-operation in the research.

It is great to do these meeting as sometimes it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day work and forget who we are really working for; meeting the residents in fire affected areas quickly brings clarity back in the picture.