|The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission bushfires called for ‘the State, municipal councils, individuals, household members and the broader community’ to accept their share of responsibility for managing the risk posed by bushfire. At the same time, the Commission called for the protection of human life to be the paramount consideration in fire policy (Victoria 2010). How those considerations are to be balanced has proved difficult.
A review of the 2011 Western Australia fires found that the use of mass evacuations, although ensuring no lives were lost, was inconsistent with the model of shared responsibility – communities are not encouraged to take their share of responsibility for hazard mitigation ‘if they believe the default response to an emergency is to evacuate’ (Keelty 2011). Implementation of shared responsibility must be done in the context of cultural and legal norms including expectations about the role of government, the right of people to make their own autonomous choices and the value of social and environmental considerations.