The Victorian Government published Safer Together: A New Approach to Reducing the Risk of Bushfire in Victoria in 2015 based on recommendations from the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM). Safer Together adopts a risk reduction target, replacing the previous hectare target approach to bushfire fuel management on public land. This approach enables the government to act more strategically, by planning and implementing risk-reduction activities in areas that will derive the greatest benefit. The government has committed to maintaining residual bushfire risk at or below 70%. In addition, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), along with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Forest Fire Victoria, now involves local communities in prioritising fuel management activities and identifying opportunities to reduce risk across all land tenures.
Since the new approach was initiated, IGEM has published two monitoring reports that review DELWP’s progress in response to the recommendations. These recommendations are to reform bushfire risk management since the 2015 review and investigation. All of four recommendations are being implemented as part of Safer Together. The recommendations will be continually monitored as part of ongoing assurance activities, including breaches of planned burn control lines.
Underpinning the government’s efforts to reduce risk of bushfires is the Code of Practice for Bushfire Management on Public Land. The code was adapted from its 2006 iteration, following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. Risk-based planning, where human life is afforded the highest priority, is a fundamental part of the code; however, it also recognises the impacts of fire on the natural environment and thereby considers risk to human life, infrastructure and ecological assets within its approach.