The Victorian Government has today announced an independent investigation into the 2019-2020 Victorian fire season.
With significant fires continuing to burn across a large part of the North East, Gippsland and Alpine regions, the Government has asked the Inspector General for Emergency Management (IGEM), Tony Pearce, to lead an inquiry into Victoria’s preparedness for and response to these recent fires, and to review relief and recovery efforts.
The Government will provide an additional $2.55 million to the IGEM to undertake the inquiry, which will consider the following matters:
- Effectiveness of emergency management command and control and Victoria’s operational response
- Effectiveness of the declaration of a state of disaster
- Timeliness and effectiveness of activation of Commonwealth assistance and resource availability
- State evacuation planning and preparedness process and practices
- Preparedness ahead of the 2019-20 fire season
- Effectiveness of immediate relief and recovery work and arrangements, and the creation of Bushfire Recovery Victoria, the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and how they work together
Preliminary recommendations into Victoria’s preparedness and response for the 2019-20 fire season are due to the Government by 31 July this year. This will ensure appropriate consideration and implementation of the report before the next fire season.
IGEM’s investigation into Victoria’s relief and recovery arrangements is due to report back to the Government by 30 June 2021, as that work is only just commencing.
As the bushfires are ongoing and we are still at the start of the fire season, the Government will work with IGEM to allow timings of the inquiry to be adjusted to ensure its engagement with emergency management agencies will not impact current response efforts.
IGEM was established as an independent monitor following the February 2009 bushfires and since then has worked closely with our emergency services sector to investigate bushfires and other major emergencies and the response to them.
As noted by Premier Daniel Andrews
“An independent investigation into this fire season will help identify any learnings there may be and ensure they are applied for the next fire season.”
“We continue to honour the work being done by our incredible emergency services personnel, and stand with bushfire affected communities as they recover and rebuild.”
As noted by Minister for Emergency Services Lisa Neville
“The IGEM was established for exactly this purpose – to investigate fires and other major emergencies and provide advice so we can continually improve our response.”
“As we move into supporting communities through the recovery stage, the Inspector General will help ensure that we have all the appropriate measures in place to protect lives and property.”